Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Success Story

Marylee Reaume and her FarmASea: Nature’s Prescription Through Conservation Efforts.

Hertiage pig foraging

From the backyard to the barnyard, Marylee Reaume's agricultural journey responsibly raising animals through conservation. 

(Photo Courtesy of Marylee Reaume)

HAMPSTEAD, N.C., – The North Carolina coast is known for its beautiful beaches, its tasty oysters, and world class golf courses. But for Marylee Reaume and her husband Gabe, its home to something a little different. It is home to their small farm that’s making a huge difference.

Marylee and Gabe got their start with raising a few animals in their backyard. So, with a few chickens and a couple of pigs, their adventure began. In 2015 that adventure got a little bigger than their backyard could handle. With that the boat was sold and, in its place, came a tractor. But life would take a turn, and soon after expanding their operation Gabe was diagnosed with cancer.

This diagnosis pushed them to really be serious about what was in their food and how it was raised. The journey wasn’t easy, but the couple was determined to be fully informed and self-sufficient. In 2017, an idea became a realization and FarmASea was born.

The idea behind FarmASea is simple yet profound one. That idea is that every animal is a gift, and that their care must be respected and treasured.  

“A happy animal is a healthy animal”, said Marylee Reaume, Owner, and Operator of FarmASea.

With that in mind, establishing a healthy environment was paramount to that vision. The farm established several conservation practices, the biggest one being pasture rotation. By doing this, it allowed their animals to get all the nutrients available without depleting or over grazing their land. Ever the realist, Marylee understands that the efforts of conservation doesn’t happen overnight nor is it haphazard.

“You’ve got to be patient, its well thought out”, said Marylee when asked about conservation planning.

Another major conservation practice that FarmASea has implemented is a silvopasture system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines silvopasture as the integration of trees and forages into a working system on a farm. Well-managed silvopastures apply agronomic principles using a variety of native or introduced forages, provide reasonable nutrient inputs and nitrogen-fixing legumes to foster fertility, and utilize rotational stocking and other top grazing management approaches. Silvopasture optimizes forage utilization and ecological well-being of soil, water, air, and biological resources on the farm.

Recently Marylee received a USDA research grant for Silvopasture pork production. The research grant is in partnership with North Carolina State University, coauthored by Dr. Silvana Pietrosemoli. The goal of the research is to determine if a rotational grazing in a silvopasture is more beneficial than a continuous grazing method. This will ultimately describe the environmental impacts of a pig-silvopasture designed that is centered around rotational grazing. The proposed end date of the project in at the end of March in 2025.

It would be so surprise that FarmASea and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would end up working together to further the conservation efforts of FarmASea’s operation. Since they started working with the agency, the small farm by the sea has adopted seven conservation practices. The practices are a water well, groundwater testing, livestock pipeline, pumping plants, heavy use protection, and a watering facility.  The two primary resource concerns addressed have been soil erosion and water quality. Working together, Marylee and NRCS have made a huge difference in a relatively small space.

“Seeing someone who is passionate about conservation makes my job so rewarding, I hope to be working with Marylee with getting more conservation efforts in place”, said Kristian Turner, Soil Conservationist.

These practices fall under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the agency’s flagship program. The EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps producers in a way that makes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land.

Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration. The conservation practices installed at FarmASea covered 37 acres of their land for approximately $25 thousand dollars which has been fully funded. But if history is any indication, conservation efforts on FarmASea will continue into the foreseeable future for Marylee and Gabe.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Stories like Marylee’s are happening across North Carolina and the nation. Proving that our producers are true champions of conservation.

To get started, please visit your local USDA Service Center. To find the nearest center visit USDA Service Center Locator.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender