by Pamela Denholm
George Lewis of Ventura Grain offers quality feeds Every Day!
We are a “salt of the earth” bunch, we eaters of local food and homesteaders. We shop local because we are all about “the little guy” and robust communities that have character. We like knowing the names of our farmers, butchers, bakers, even soap makers. However, despite the support and enthusiasm of people like you and me, the growth of the local food market has been slowing. Not many of our younger generation are choosing agricultural career paths, and as our communities grow, develop, and become more urban, our farmers are defending their livelihoods against complaints about the noises and smells that accompany farming.
Ventura Grain, a locally owned and family operated animal feed mill that has serviced farms and animal owners from its location in Taunton since 1924, went up for sale late last year. The fear amongst farmers and homesteaders was that this local treasure, one of the last feed mills in this area, a symbol of our agricultural heritage, would fall victim to the same fate as other local businesses and farms: assimilation into something larger and faceless, or–worse–broken down, sold for parts, and subjected to land development.
We waited with bated breath. The good news arrived in the name of George Lewis. Raised on a small farm, he has a triple major from Bentley University in finance, economics, and earth sciences & sustainability, and a post college career in private banking. He feels connected to the deep agricultural roots of southeastern Massachusetts, and has the desire, the need even, to continue the legacy. Ventura Grain was just the opportunity he had been scouting around for, and so it was done.
With the support of the Ventura family, George has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the feed mill business. He commutes from Brookline to Taunton to start his workday at 6:00 am. This early, the office is quiet and he gets the paperwork out of the way, because from 7:00 am on the mill runs, and so does he. As he sinks his teeth into the animal feed business, learns the ropes, and gets to know farmers, he sees nothing but opportunity. Perhaps a new, smaller mill for organic feed? He would like to double Ventura’s size in terms of feed production, perhaps invest in a slaughterhouse too, a very necessary anchor for livestock agriculture in the region.
George takes great pride in his fourth generation “older style” feed company. They use no fillers, no animal byproducts–just good feed made from grains, legumes, and minerals. When I asked him what he loved about his new career path, he responded, “I love how my new customers are the animals. nd that I don’t sit behind a desk all day.”
When you visit Ventura Grain, be it for some nutritious feed for your critters, a new pair of muck boots, or some gardening must-have, you will still be greeted by some familiar faces. Jess Ventura manages the retail store, and wave to Matt Ventura as he heads out to make deliveries! Be sure to introduce yourself to George, too!
148 Longmeadow Road
Taunton, MA 025780
Pamela Denholm owns South Shore Organics and proudly supports local family run small farms and businesses.