Mónica Hernández-Melanςon

T. Moise Farms

Sunset, Louisiana

12 Hernández, Mónica photo 3 Monica_Hernandez_TMoiseFarmCom_Piglets_02.jpg

Mónica Hernández-Melanςon is a Hispanic farmer and business owner located near Lafayette, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country. Mónica grew up speaking Spanish in the country of Peru and came to the United States when she was 16 years old. She previously lived in San Francisco and New Orleans before starting T. Moise Farms near Sunset, Louisiana, with her husband.

 

Mónica came to farming with a strong background in retail business administration and managed 23 stores before beginning the farm. She has used these experiences to build innovative products for local markets.

 

T. Moise Farms specializes in the natural production of pork, poultry, eggs and raw honey. Among their innovative products are several Cajun meat products with a heavy dose of red pepper, such as Boudin, a tradition in southern Louisiana that mixes pork, rice and spices in a sausage casing. Other meats include spicy and non-spicy sausages, plus typical cuts of beef, pork and mutton. Eggs are washed and sanitized before packaging in a dozen.

 

Cattle, swine and sheep are slaughtered offsite, and the chilled carcasses are returned to the processing facility for preparation, packaging and freezing. Separate rooms have been built in this stand-alone building to cool down meats before preparation, to prepare meats and to store frozen meats. Specialty machines prepare Boudin and sausages.

 

All meat, poultry and eggs are grown by pasture-raised animals that have much more than the required minimum of space required to carry those designations. T. Moise Farms is unique in Louisiana, as it’s the only farm in the state with an on-farm processing facility for its diversity of meats.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency helped develop the business model and market reach with a Value-Added Producer grant and a loan for the processing facility. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provided technical and financial assistance on pasture management and high tunnel vegetable production. Horticultural foods include honey, pickles and sweet potato Boudin pie.

 

The farm is not USDA-certified organic due to the lack of an organic meat processing facility in Louisiana and the scarcity of organic feed supplements. Instead, Mónica’s family uses natural farming without fertilizers or pesticides applied to the pastures. They also do not give medicines like antibiotics or hormones to the livestock or poultry.

 

The farm is 40 acres in size, mostly in pasture. Twice a year, the family rents a no-till pasture drill from the St. Landry Parish Soil and Water Conservation District. They also drill a multispecies mix of cool-season forages around September and a warm-season mix around April.

 

Mónica’s family sells direct to the public using social media and direct marketing. The website, www.TMoiseFarms.com, has an online store with several dozen food products. The family hauls several freezers and refrigerators to farmers markets and restaurants and also has farm-gate sales.

 

Selected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service — Louisiana

Craig Smith, Agronomist