Despite his upbringing, a farming lifestyle wasn’t the obvious choice for Mr. Joyner. In his youth, he wanted to explore what lay beyond his rural setting. As such, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 82nd Airborne. Upon completing service, Mr. Joyner decided to return to the farm and focus his operation on raising grass-fed, antibiotic-free sheep. Having no prior experience with such animals, he soon realized that he would have to learn everything from square one. Today, Mr. Joyner’s farm is thriving using methods that enhance the natural conditions of his land. His farm uses a practice known as “rotational grazing”—the regular, systematic movement of herds to freshly rested areas—which helps to reduce soil erosion while maintaining a fresh supply of grass for the flock.

In addition to environmental consciousness, Mr. Joyner makes sure to treat his sheep as humanely as possible. In October 2008, his farm was Animal Welfare Approved, a stringent third-party certification of animal welfare standards. Mr. Joyner’s commitment to sustainable farming practices made him eligible to apply and be approved for a NCIF loan. He will use the capital to grow his ewe flock, purchase fencing, and carry out additional farm improvements.