News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

HolyCow helps children internationally

What began as a desire for Sisters residents Jared and Crystal Vogt to feed their family healthier food turned into a mission to help children overseas.

Crystal noted, “We became more health-minded after moving to Sisters six years ago and were trying to feed our family, good, clean, healthy food, but it costs a lot. The only way we could know for sure what we were feeding our kids was to raise it ourselves. So, we went in together with another family and bought one cow that we were to raise at our friends’ ranch east of Sisters.”

The Vogts raised the cow and shared the beef. The next year they bought more cows. Then the following year they bought more and sold the meat to family and friends. They picked up some experience during the couple of years as hobby cattle ranchers.

In 2019, the Vogts scaled it up and launched HolyCow Sisters, a nonprofit where their mission is “Eat Clean. Be Connected. Do Good.”

Crystal said, “It has become increasingly important for us to be connected to our food. We are connected to our food system, where it comes from, to the land, and the proceeds go to good causes.”

The Vogt’s first cause is donating all the proceeds to an orphanage in Southern India. HolyCow beef is donated locally to Wellhouse Market, a food bank through Wellhouse Church in Sisters.

“A couple of years ago, after we began our hobby farm, Jared went on a trip to India with our church to do mission work and made a connection to a pastor from Good Samaritan ministries,” Crystal explained. “There was an orphanage and Jared fell in love with the kids and the people. The orphanage had to be torn down because of a windstorm and the 67 children were scattered about living wherever they could.”

Jared wanted to raise money to build a new orphanage. Even though building an orphanage in India is less expensive than it would be here in the United States, he realized it would take too long to raise the money just by asking for donations.

Crystal added, “He figured the best way to raise money was for us to become a nonprofit, buy more cows, hoping more people will want to experience a connection to their food and give the proceeds to the cause.”

Now, dozens of cows graze in a pasture east of Sisters.

“We get the cows in the spring and raise them on the best grass all summer,” she said. “We also began rotating them to different pastures, since we now implement regenerative agriculture.”

Regenerative agriculture is a farming and grazing practice that rebuilds soil organic matter and restores degraded soil biodiversity — resulting in both carbon and drawdown and improving the water cycle.

“Instead of cattle ravaging the land and ruining it, we are intentionally moving them every day or two to new pastures, so the cow gets new growth, and it improves the soil they just left,” Crystal said.

Beginning this last summer, the Vogts, along with volunteers, have been poly-cropping over 30 acres at the ranch. Poly cropping can be described as multiple species planted together to complement each other and benefit the soil.

Crystal told The Nugget, “We went in and planted all different layers to help the land. We planted turnips that go down into the soil and help loosen it up, and then peas, oats, rye and clover. We put together a wheel line and move it twice a day to water the crops. Then we harvested the oat grass and bundled that up for the cattle for this winter.”

The Vogts didn’t stop there.

“We invited volunteers to help,” she said, “We want a chance for young people to come on out and be able to see how there’s value in working with your hands, to accomplish something as great as raising cows.”

The cattle on the ranch are beef cows, from Angus and Red Angus to Shorthorn and more.

Crystal added, “This was a great opportunity to work together with people for a good cause and I think this was healthy for everyone.”

“It’s been really amazing to see the progress of the orphanage they are building in India. It’s already been one-third funded, they’ve broke ground, and built the downstairs.”

Last year, Pastor Prakash, who runs the Christian orphanage in India, visited Central Oregon with his family. They were able to see the ranch and meet the cows that will be providing their orphans a new home.


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