37
summer
2013
arches
It seems like the last thing someone in the busi-
ness of raising rabbits should have to worry
about is supply. Yet that’s the problem Brad
Andonian faced last summer. The bunnies at
his Abundant Acres Farm fell into a breeding
slump caused by “heat sterility.”
Brad doesn’t have that sort of concern on
his day job. He’s the third-generation proprietor
of Pande Cameron, a Seattle-area carpet retailer
that has been in business since 1924. He started
Abundant Acres several years ago as a side ven-
ture and raises rabbits, geese, ducks, turkeys,
and chickens.
The idea to start a farm formed out of a love
of gardening and a greater awareness of what
he was eating. Brad did a lot of research before
jumping into agriculture. He took courses at the
Washington State University extension center in
Puyallup, and he learned about rotational graz-
ing at Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, which is fea-
tured in Michael Pollan’s book
The Omnivore’s
Dilemma
.
He eventually bought a 39-acre plot
near Toledo, Wash., that hadn’t been farmed in
decades.
It was pretty worn out, but the nice thing
was that it didn’t seem to ever have been hit
with any pesticides or industrial chemicals, so it
was somewhat clean land,” Brad recalled. “That
suited what I wanted to raise as product, which
is naturally sourced meat.”
The animals at Abundant Acres are pasture
raised, except for the rabbits. They are caged.
It’s completely different than industrial agri-
culture,” Brad said.
He uses no chemicals or antibiotics on the
farm and is working to become as vertically in-
tegrated as possible, raising his own feed crops.
The rabbits supply a lot of fertilizer.
Brad sees parallels between his two ven-
tures; both, he said, serve customers who value
quality over price, and he applies similar busi-
ness principles to each.
I set my margin, and I’m pretty steady on
my price points,” he said. But that calculation
What we do: Brad Andonian ’90
Small-scale farmer (and rug-shop owner)
can be tricky on the farm. Brad said he can
plan for a certain level of predation, but there
are often surprises such as infertile rabbits or
sickness. Despite the challenges, Abundant
Acres has become a successful niche business.
At Christmas two years ago he sold about 200
geese, which made him the largest goose pro-
ducer in the state.
The money is how you keep score, but the
challenge of creating it is what has really driven
me,” Brad said. “The satisfaction from the cus-
tomers is the end goal.”
He says there is a robust urban farming
movement in the Seattle area and hopes more
people get a chance to grow their own food.
I think it would be fabulous if more people
gave it a go; it can be a rewarding experience,”
he said. “It doesn’t mean they’re going to turn
into ConAgra, but they’re going to learn a lot
about how life works and about the agony and
the ecstasy of small-scale agriculture.”
Greg Scheiderer
Brad resurrected this 39-acre farm in Toledo, Wash. For the past four years he has taught classes on raising meat-rabbits at Washington State University’s
Cooperative Extension in Mount Vernon, Wash. He advises on housing, feeding and daily care, breeding, and the ecological and health benefits of raising rabbits.
Brad now has about 100 breeding-doe rabbits on his farm.