FIVE MARYS FARMS
FORT JONES, CALIFORNIA
Carhartt-wearing, lamb-pulling, small-town business owner Mary Heffernan, her husband, and her four kids once called Silicon Valley home. It’s where they flourished as small business owners, Brian as an attorney, and planned to raise their four girls, all named Mary.
It’s peculiar, then, to see how seamlessly they fit into their Northern California community, today. It’s as if they were made for this life, which, to be fair, we believe they were.
Jump back a few years, and you’ll find the Silicon Valley-based Heffernans with local-fare restaurants on the business roster and providing high-quality protein to their customers as a top-shelf priority. After working with local farmers to supply their restaurants, Mary and Brain decided they could take on the challenge themselves.
With deep roots in California agriculture, they began their search for a ranch to fit their needs. Insert the historic Sharps Gulch Ranch in Fort Jones, California. After eight weekends of ranching from afar, the Heffernans packed up their four girls and moved to their new-to-them 780-square-foot ranch cabin.
Today, in addition to being the face behind the @FiveMarysFarms social handles, which not surprisingly has a loyal, engaged following, Mary leads the charge of marketing, packaging, and shipping ranch-raised beef, pork, and lamb across the country. And, in 2018, the Heffernans took over the historic local bar to create a community gathering place to serve ranch-raised protein and their favorite cocktails.
With a rule of taking care of livestock before themselves and pouring into the local community as though it’s her full-time hustle, Mary is the epitome of what it means to be a Ruralist.
What makes Mary a shoo-in for The Ruralist?
Although Mary has farming roots in her family tree, her ability to relate to the most novice agricultural customer is a skill not many achieve, even with years of communications training. Mary has identified a common denominator with her online - and in-person - community, and that’s being a mom.
It’s her duty to feed her children safe, nutrition food, which are the same standards she sets for her customers.
Transparency - even on the tough days of ranching - is important to Mary. From writing of their latest vet technique (learned via YouTube) to sharing the latest photo of Tiny (Mary’s youngest Mary) holding the newest piglet, customers have the opportunity to learn about ranching and the perseverance needed to face and work through those challenges every day.
How is she impacting rural America?
First, investing in a small town is the utmost sign you’re planting roots. While the Heffernan family got their start in an urban setting, they’re showing Ft. Jones they’re in it for the long haul. As they revitalize one storefront - then another - they’re bringing life into their rural community.
Second, the time commitment of sharing her family’s ranching story is second-to-none. Mary uses social media to show a real-life, behind-the-scenes account of her family’s daily ranch life, which allows customers to see exactly how their products are raised and experience the journey from first breath to the livestock’s “one bad day.”
Mary, notably, gives an unfiltered account of her day-to-day. This means, customer or not, her followers are learning about agricultural topics they might not otherwise have access to.