Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Hwy. 290 traffic and new development in Cypress, Whitehurst Heritage Farms sits on 100 acres of pasture and wooded land, unbeknownst to most who drive past.
Leslie and Michael Marchand have owned and operated the farm off Grant Road since early 2014, raising pastured chickens and eggs with plans to offer forested pork this summer.
Prior to opening Whitehurst Heritage Farms, Michael spent 10 years in business for himself before he began researching the pasture poultry movement and deciding to turn it into a small business.
“I got tired of sitting in traffic on Hwy. 290 and sitting in an office, and I just wanted to do something different,” he said. “I grew up in a small town, so [farming]is kind of in my blood.”
Whitehurst Heritage Farms chooses to be transparent in how they raise the chickens, Michael said, and the Marchands do their best to support other organic farmers across the state.
“We made a choice to buy organic feed, and that not only gives our customers high-quality pastured birds, but it supports other farmers in Texas who grow organic products,” Michael said.
The farm’s meat chickens, which grow to become 4 or 5 pounds each, are raised in protective mobile pasture pens and are moved to fresh grass every day.
“They have access to light and fresh water and food and access to the pasture that they are eating from that day,” Leslie said. “It’s as good for the land as it is for them.”
The egg-laying hens are in a similar setup across the farm. They sleep in a hoop house at night that keeps them warm and safe from predators such as coyotes and hawks and are moved to new pasture sections twice a week.
The Marchands collect fresh eggs from the nest boxes at least once a day, while fresh chicken is available about every two weeks in-season. The chickens are on the farm for about eight weeks until they are ready to be processed off-site at a local facility that is inspected by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Whitehurst Heritage Farms then sells fresh chicken and eggs to two local restaurants in Cypress: Black’s Market Table and Season’s Harvest.
“If someone wants to buy retail, we also supply eggs and chicken to Gramen Farms [in Tomball], but they can also contact us directly,” Michael said. “One commitment we made was to sell to individuals versus selling to a large chain or grocery store.”
Whitehurst Heritage Farms is one of only a handful of large-scale poultry farms in Texas as the majority of poultry suppliers that provide to grocery store chains operate enclosed chicken houses.
“It’s a completely different type of farming that we do,” Michael said. “It’s very laborious and physically a lot of work, but it’s the best thing for getting healthy birds and great products.”
Since opening the farm, the Marchands have capitalized on the growing interest in getting back to quality food.
“Somewhere along the way, our culture moved away from this,” Leslie said. “There is a resurgence coming, but everybody like us has to go back and learn how people did it in the past. We all have some roots to farming—you just have to figure out how far back it goes.”
A family affair
All of the products raised by Whitehurst Heritage Farms are named after owners Michael and Leslie Marchands’ children.
Christian’s Chickens—The birds, which live in protective mobile pasture pens, are moved to fresh grass daily and are fed certified organic feed. Each bird weighs about 4 or 5 pounds.
Marisa’s Pastured Eggs—Much like Christian’s Chickens, the egg-laying hens roam freely on the pasture and are moved to new areas twice a week. Eggs are available by appointment for $5.95 per dozen.
Thomas’ Turkeys—Free-range turkeys that are raised on the pasture and fed organic feed are offered seasonally.
Olivia’s Forested Pork—The Marchands plan to start raising pork in the forest on-site this summer.
Whitehurst Heritage Farms
17235 Grant Road, Cypress
Hours: By appointment only