The Bison Need a Christmas Miracle

Bison in the grass, before the well failed.
Bison in the grass, before the Lindner’s well failed.


Update: January 28, 2014I have terrific news! The campaign was a success!!  The Lindners raised enough money to fix their well, and will now begin the two-year process of regrowing their fields. The contributions totalled $155,133, with $41,264 coming from the Indiegogo campaign, which includes donations from many generous Eating Rules readers. The remaining donations came via mail-in checks and farmer’s market stand contributions.

I want to pass along a huge thank-you from Kathy and Ken – they contacted me and specifically said how generous Eating Rules readers are.  I’m so grateful for all of you. Together, we’re changing the world – one small farm at a time.

– Andrew

Kathy and Ken Lindner humanely raise 100% grass-fed bison at Heritage Ranch in Northern California.

Matty and I have been buying their bison for the past year and a half, from their table at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Through our shopping trips, we got to know them face-to-face, and I can say without a doubt that they’re the real deal. They left the corporate world behind to raise their bison, and they care deeply about the welfare of their animals and the impact their ranching has on the animals, the land, and the community. Last year, when I told Kathy about October Unprocessed, she enthusiastically contributed a guest post explaining their 15% Steak Rule – which I personally have found to be a powerful and lasting paradigm shift. And, we proudly served their bison at our wedding.

Unfortunately, their ranch is now dying.

In April their 34-year-old, 600-foot-deep well failed, and without it they’re not able to irrigate their fields to grow grass for the bison to eat. Having already spent their life savings to get where they are today, they cannot afford to replace the well on their own — it will take $150,000 — and they haven’t been able to secure a loan. Instead of lush pasture, the fields are now fallow. The Lindners have to purchase up to a ton of hay each day in order for the bison to survive, tripling their expenses. They simply cannot afford to keep going without water, and the ranch is dying.

Bison after the well failed

As a last-ditch effort, they’ve created an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the well. If they don’t meet their goal, they’re going to have to shut down and sell the herd. They will lose their business and everything they have worked so hard to achieve, and the bison will have to be sold and will go to feedlots instead of pasture.

So far they’ve raised about $24,000, with 29 days left. Matty and I made a contribution, and now I want to use my blog to help get the word out.

I know most of you reading this won’t have access to their bison (or don’t even eat meat!), so you may be wondering why I’d ask you to help. I believe the Lindners represent the very best of our good food movement. They work hard, they love and care for their animals, and they are good stewards of the land. They are dedicated advocates of non-GMO, heirloom, and heritage species. They are Animal Welfare Approved, and are a Green America Gold Certified Business, embedding “social responsibility into the DNA of their company.” And, they are deeply committed to helping others fulfill the same core values.

They’re doing their part to change the world, and for that I passionately support them. I hope you will too.

Please watch the video below, click through to their Water For Bison Indiegogo Campaign to learn more, and consider making a contribution to help save the ranch. (They also have some great “perks” available, which can make truly sustainable — and last-minute! — holiday gifts.)

With your help, Heritage Ranch can once again look like this. Thank you.

Lindner Bison on Spring Grass, before the well failed

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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August 19, 2014 2:30 am

It so nice hear/read they are doing their best by making sure we get healthy food NOT raised with chemicals nor hormones. I have had this nerve disorder for 20+ yrs, very complex (3 strokes) learned that beef
worsens pain by 70% on good days, actually sends me to bed. Dr found out that hormones/antibiotics are culprits. No beef since 2002.
Lindners are truly altruistic, a rare trait. I plan to buy their beef very soon.
Thank you for a special job well done..

S. King
March 3, 2014 7:56 pm

I will not be popular in saying this, and I love their efforts at raising a heritage meat, but if the only way to raise these animals is to pump untold hundreds of gallons of water from a 600 foot well (what aquifer is this tapping into?) I might suggest that this is not actually sustainable farming. Aren’t we in a water crisis in our western states with agriculture and municipalities draining away what is actually not a sustainable resource in some parts of the country? I do hope that they actually get rain, but I think they should also look at the real cost–maybe this was a wake up call…

Christel Sparks
January 22, 2014 5:45 pm

The site isn’t working for the donations. Is it over? What happened? It is beyond stupid that the government will let big ranchers drive wild horses off public lands but not help little farmers. *sigh*

January 19, 2014 12:34 pm

I just found this and see that you only have 36 hours left. I have made a donation and shared with my social followers. I sincerely hope that you get a last minute rally.

December 23, 2013 9:31 am

I did my small part. I’ve given to campaigns before and it is amazing what a difference is made when we all give a little or a lot. There are is many different levels that surely everyone can find something they are comfortable giving.

December 23, 2013 9:30 am

My first bison was a Lindner bison from the Alamitos Bay Farmers Market in Long Beach, and we bought from them many times. It’s definitely a good cause to support.

December 23, 2013 8:24 am

Thank you Andrew for posting this. One question that keeps arising is why they do not get a loan. The answer is in their book “Standing into the Storm”. Briefly, banks do not give loans to small farmers. Why? Banks want to ‘make money’ and small farms are a very risky business. Why are they so risky? Because the farmer usually has no resources and when a catastrophic event happens, like a waterwell break, that could spell the end. So you would think that the federal government would help, right? Well, read the farm bill and many blogs on that subject. The short answer again is no. So that really leaves the community, you and me, your readers, folks that believe in farming. Folks that believe ‘making money’ is not the end-all of our existence on earth. I am extremely grateful for the ~300 people who contributed so far, but… Read more »