Owner Jim Gates. Image © 2009–2016 Studio Nuñez

It all started by wagon train in 1871, when Jim Gates' people first came to Nevada County to make their home here. Born slightly later than 1871 with boots on his feet and a lariat in his hand, Jim's been ranching all his life.

Concerned about the integrity of our local food supply, Jim founded Nevada County Free Range Beef (NCFRB) in 2004. He started out with 12 cows handpicked from his commercial herd, and in two years' time expanded the NCFRB herd to 100, ranging across the pastures of neighbors Bill and Anna Trabucco. That same year BriarPatch Co-op Community Market came on board as a retail distributor.

Early in 2007 Jim left his day job to devote himself full time to the company. Thanks to the enthusiastic patronage of local consumers, demand soon outpaced supply, so in 2008 Jim again expanded his program to include individually selected cattle from 11 nearby small ranches. This partnership boosts local, family ranching by providing a fair market for quality-raised beef. It also promotes sustainable farming practices, as Jim and participating ranchers work with the natural rhythms and resources of our local climate, soils, and seasonal grasses.

Today, the Nevada County Free Range Beef herd stands at over 325 Shorthorn, Red Angus, Hereford, and Devon mother cows. Jim personally oversees several parcels of land comprising more than 3500 acres. His profound knowledge of genetics, feed conditions, and gentle handling techniques ensure that only the best, most nutritious beef reaches your table. No growth hormones or antibiotics have ever been or will ever be used, and all pasture land is naturally fertilized and managed, without pre-emergents, pesticides, or petrochemicals.