James Gilles, 5th-Generation Farmer

Sep 8th, 2017

James Gilles represents the fifth generation of Gilles to farm the hilly land west of Owensboro since his ancestors first homesteaded there in the 1800’s.  Over more than a century, his family has raised corn, soy beans, and tobacco on their Kentucky farm.  But 50 years ago, James’ father brought something new to the farm—Angus cattle—which would set a course for the next generation of Hill View Farm.

At first, the cattle were raised and sold just like every other commodity on the farm.  Like most farmers, the fruits of the Gilles’ labor was just another input for someone else in the food chain.  Grains go to processors, tobacco went to co-ops, and the Gilles’ angus cattle were sold to butchers who would resell to customers.  That all changed when a friend bought a cow direct from Hill View Farm.  It was processed at a nearby butcher facility, but the customer knew where his beef had been raised. And right away, the difference in flavor was obvious.

For decades, Hill View Farms had been improving their herd.  With each generation of cattle, selecting the right animals for breeding that would make better beef than the one before.  Slowly but surely, they built a superior herd of genetics. Not only that, but they did it nature’s way—forage diets on rolling pastures, no added hormones or antibiotics.  But few had appreciated it before now.

Soon, one customer turned into many, and Hill View Farms was selling halves and quarters of beef to friends and neighbors all around their community.  The meat became so popular, some customers wanted to be able to buy year-round, not waiting until another steer became ready. 

It was 2013 when James Gilles returned to Hill View Farms—the fifth generation to do so—and opened Hill View Farms Meats.  It was their own brand, their own label, and the ability to sell retail cuts direct to hungry consumers like you and I through markets like MarktWagon.com.  As popularity grew, James added pork and chicken, too.  All of it raised with the same care for both the animal’s stock as well as diet, environment, and sustainability.

James is a steward of the land that his great, great grandfather once farmed.  You play a part in keeping that tradition moving forward every time you order their meats on MarketWagon.com, and share this story with others who appreciate the work that James is doing.