Javier Perez Rocha is the owner of Rancho Santa Marina, an organic sheep cheese farm, located just west of Atongo, Queretaro. When Javier was a boy his father bought the farm and since 1983 it had seen many iterations: cattle, hay, asparagus, mixed vegetables. Now, since 2009, it produces organic sheep cheese.
My visit to Rancho Santa Marina came about as one of my previous hosts, the awesome Ricardo Romero, suggested I visit while in Queretaro.
Here’s my interview with Ricardo from August 2019:
Javier is also a horse fanatic so the ranch is home to over a dozen horses of mixed breeds: Arabian, Lusitano, Español and even a donkey and a mule!
What makes Santa Marina so special is the rotational grazing of the mixed livestock and horses.
The different animals are given access to the fields one after another and in a certain order. The sheep girst, then the cows and goats. Then the pigs, then after a month, the horses are let in for a few days, then, the pasture regrows for another month. The fields are small so there is always something for the animals to graze on. Sprinklers irrigate the fields in dry times. Very little hay is needed for the animals, nor grain. Santa Marina is an example of an operational grass (and weed) fed livestock operation, the final sellable product being cheese. And meat.
Javier adopted the rotational grazing to maximize the efficiency of the water he does have on the farm. He chose to partner organic sheep cheese with this management method to produce a high value crop, while using as little energy as possible. The animals fertilize the fields, so no additional chemical are needed. The horses help disrupt the parasite cycle.
I had the chance to interview Javier and I’ve uploaded our chat for you to enjoy.
I had a great time visiting with and learning from Javier. To learn more about his farm, check out the site here 》》》