Everette Shank likes to try new things, and more than that, he wants healthy birds. That’s what led him to try growing chickens for Shenandoah Valley Organic. His wife Karen and daughter Annie share the same sentiment; as Karen puts it, “If I’m going to butcher a bird, I want it to be healthy.” Likewise, she doesn’t want the birds eating food made from byproducts, antibiotics, and chemicals “any more than I’d want to eat that myself.” Having fewer birds, which SVO allows farmers to do and still earn fair compensation, also results in healthier birds. It’s clear: the Shanks’ commitment to raising the highest quality chickens runs deep. Everette starts the day at 4am with a check of the chickens, followed by breakfast and several more walk-throughs before settling the birds in for the night. When they’re not caring for their flock, you’ll find the couple camping and birdwatching, or participating in one of their many volunteer gigs -- Everette donates his construction skills to a number of projects, and Karen caters Salvation Army and Friendship House meals for local folks who need a little help.

Lynda Bostrom