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Standing Ground | Journal Entry 00

Hey everyone! Here it is…something you had no clue about but within the past couple months I’ve started a project that I’ve become very passionate about. Below is my introduction which will also be released “officially” via Edible SLO on June 1st, but for those that follow me I am releasing content early!

The farms, ranches, and properties you will be seeing are apart of an on-going project. Therefor, I try to visit each place once or twice every two weeks. My purpose is to photograph the happenings; the good and the bad, the beautiful and ugly. This is a no holds barred project and is meant to be honest. Each journal entry will spotlight different individuals or the same and what is currently happening on their land.

Anyway… enjoy and please comment your thoughts! This is an on-going project:


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My name is Richard Fusillo and I’m a Central Coast freelance photographer. I’ve been creating

images since 2004 but within the last few years I’ve realized that I have been lacking an outlet

in my art. That outlet being personal projects. Standing Ground is a project of mine that has

stemmed from an interest in food photography and the curiosity of what goes on behind the

scenes. As a photographer I’ve always been intrigued of what happens before that final image.

In food imagery, I always ask the chef about the ingredients. Not the plate, not the styling, or

the amount of time it took to prepare…but I’ve always been curious of where did the meat

come from, or what about the vegetable I see neatly sliced on the plate or put in a puree. Sure

the food tastes amazing but why?

Standing Ground is a collaboration between me (the photographer) and multiple individuals that not only farm or ranch, but truly believe that where our food is coming from is ultimately more important than how it looks on a plate. Not only is it crucial to understand the food we eat, but I also want to explore how that food is grown and harvested. To learn about the land is just as important as the product itself.

As a population many of us normally don’t think about this. Sadly nowadays so much food is

over processed to the point where you can’t track down the farm or ranch it came from. This

project is about the ones that care. I will be spotlighting and following not just people but a way

of thinking, a more sustainable method of life. Standing Ground is about the individuals that

believe living off the land is an integral part of how we as a population should focus. It isn’t just

about the final image. It is about understanding the ground we walk on and to respect it.


The first ranch I contacted was Outlaw Valley Ranch. We have never met, and our first interactions were through Instagram. I was so nervous at first because what if they said NO…but after some personal pep-talking I sent them a message. And well, as you can see I ended up on their ranch!

Alex and Kelsey Karol own and operate Outlaw Valley Ranch. Their chunk of paradise is 60 acres

of oak studded grasslands 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Templeton, California where they

reside and operate. Both are first generation ranchers, neither one grew up in the field, but

both had a passion for the land and working with their hands. Unhappy with industrial

agriculture and the environmental devastation it causes, Alex and Kelsey wanted to be more

connected to their food.

The first day I arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thankfully Alex and Kelsey have agreed to not hide anything. The ranchers have been nothing but amazing. On the first day I photographed them moving fences for their sheep for fresh pasture, they showed me their solar panel mobile electric fence units, I got to meet their guard dog Sasha whom lives with the herd 24/7 protecting them from predators, and just before I arrived a lamb was born.

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We are grass farmers first. If the soil is healthy, the grass is healthy, the sheep are healthy,
the birds are healthy, and so are we who eat the meat in the end.
— Alex and Kelsey
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The most important thing we do to keep our sheep and rangeland healthy and thriving is our
pasture management. We move our sheep to a new patch of grass every few days. Manure
never builds up in one place too long, grass is not eaten down too low, and the sheep are never

sleeping and eating in the dirt where parasites and worms tend to be. We are simultaneously
building organic matter, putting down fertilizer, and thus improving our pastures year after
year.
— Alex and Kelsey

The second time I came to the ranch Alex and Kelsey were in the process of shearing (and it was Day two). Personally, I’ve never seen an animal being sheared before so it was definitely a unique experience. Alex did the shearing, and Kelsey collected the desired wool. She chose the cleaner wool, wrote down the sheep’s number and then bagged it for future sales.

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We shear our Navajo-churro sheep every six months, once in the spring before all the grass
seeds out (contaminating the wool) and again in the fall. I shear using the New Zealand method,
the most efficient and humane method of shearing. It is a pattern that is repeated the same on
every sheep, keeping the sheep comfortable and controlled and applying pressure to keep the
skin tight to avoid cuts.
— Alex and Kelsey
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First, I shear the dirty belly wool that is thrown to the side. The
remaining wool, called a fleece is sheared off all in one piece. The fleece is then gathered and
skirted, bagged and labeled for sale.
— Alex

Well, I hope you enjoyed the first journal entry of Standing Ground. Please follow along and if you have any suggestions on farms, ranches, businesses or people that fit this project please email me. I am looking for more individuals to take part in this. It is an on-going project and each farm or ranch I visit at least once every week. I am there to document the happenings. The good and bad, the real, the grit. More images will be released in the future including more words and stories. Thank you for looking.

As the land changes, our stories will adapt and change. Standing Ground


OUTLAW VALLEY RANCH

I encourage you, the reader to not only visit their site but support. The ranch is ran by two people, daily. Make sure you follow them on Instagram too! @outlawvalleyranch

We look forward to sharing more from the ranch!