(fwd) Idealistic Farmer Takes from the Past, Looks Toward the Future

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflondon at mindspring.com
Sat Jul 15 11:24:47 EDT 2000

On 15 Jul 2000 00:34:58 GMT, in alt.sustainable.agriculture
aozotorp at aol.com (Aozotorp) wrote:

From the 7/14/2000 ABC Evening News:



21st Century Lives:
Joel Salatin

 Idealistic Farmer Takes from the Past, Looks Toward the Future

Joel Salatin runs a kinder, gentler farm in Virginia. (ABCNEWS.com)

By Peter Jennings

July 14 - You can call Joel Salatin a lot of things - farmer,
philosopher - just don't call him an organic farmer.
     "We don't use the term organic, we say we're beyond organic," the
43-year-old Virginian says.
     Maybe he's taking the organic movement into the 21st century by
it back to the pasture. Some might call it alternative agriculture.
food has become big business. Consumers now spend $6 billion a year on
and produce that carry the organic label. And more and more, says
Joel, that
label is being used when it shouldn't be.
     "Organic has become such a generic term," he says.
     Take free-range chicken, for example.
     "Free range can be anything from a dirt strip outside of a
house to where they're moved every day to a completely fresh pasture,"
Catering to the Animals
And that difference is what Joel Salatin's farm is all about. "We ask
animals, 'What is it that you want?' and then try to duplicate that or
that to them as close as we possibly can," he says.
     When you let the animals determine how they live, says Joel,
takes over, and begins to take care of itself.
     "Let the animals do the work," he says. "Let the pigs turn the
instead of $15,000 machines."
     And let the chickens take care of the insects. Joel's hen house,
the "egg mobile," follows his cows, and the chickens clean up behind
     "We don't see waste," he says. "We see resource!"
     It's profitable, too. The Salatin farm cleared $200,000 last
year. But
it's not designed to be an empire.
     "What we want to do is instead of us making more money, is we
like to see thousands and thousands like us access their
neighborhood," he
     Access their own neighborhoods with locally grown food - sold
right out
of the fields.
     "We're talking about carrots that are literally just a couple of
old by the time they get to the chef," he says.
     It's a bit of an understatement to say that Joel has farming in
blood. The last four generations of Salatins have farmed since they
emigrated here from farms in Switzerland. His farm in Swoope, Va., has
in the family since his parents bought it in 1961. But the farm hasn't
an ounce of fertilizer in 40 years.

Growing in Popularity
Joel believes that as consumers become even more savvy about their
supply, his kind of farm will only become more popular. After all,
it's hard
to compare the image of a typical hog farm, which usually finds the
swilling around in dirty water, with Joel's pigs, covered in flowered
grasses. Or, for that matter, a standard chicken factory with Joel's
     "The difference between that and looking at our birds out here on
green grass chasing down crickets and grasshoppers, it's really a
no-brainer," he says.
     It's all about who's growing the food, says Joel: a conglomerate
or a
real farmer. The difference can be felt all over the country.
     "Somebody living in New York City can sit down at a meal and say,
this was made by someone who cared,'" he says. "That's a sacred trust.
s a life worth living, that's a legacy to leave."


Other Links:


The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise
by Joel Salatin
 $30.95 postpaid
Order Now
"A half century ago farming was the most common profession in America;
nowadays it's one of the most difficult fields to enter. Fewer than
million farmers now make $1,000 or more a year in agriculture, and
many of
them are farmers by title only, rarely driving a tractor or planting
seed or
feeding livestock.
Joel Salatin, best known for his book "Pastured Poultry Profits"
Green, 1996), is on a mission to prove that it is possible to farm
in ways that are both enjoyable and lucrative. His own farm, Polyface
faces") in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is a showcase for
sustainable agriculture on a small scale."


Virginia Farmer Raises Free Ranging Chickens

There are still some farmers who believe in treating their animals to
natural surroundings, not only in order to raise healthier animals but
ethical values as well. On a small farm in the Shenandoah Valley near
Swoope, Virginia, Joel Salatin is doing just that with his chickens.

"The long term benefits for society are greater because we are
treating our
animals better. But we don't do it for business reasons. We do it
it's right." Salatin explained.

Salatin has developed a portable "Eggmobile" contraption which houses
laying hens. These hens forage as far as 200 yards from their home
the day. They naturally come back to roost so no fences are necessary
keep them contained. Salatin explained that on the usual "factory
laying hens are kept under prolonged lighting to create the illusion
spring time. They are therefore always laying eggs. On the Salatin
farm the hens are well aware of what season it is and go through the
winter rest period.

Salatin also raises about 6000 Cornish cross broilers a year. These
are kept in 2 foot tall mobile homes that are moved over fresh grass
morning. About 100 animals are kept in each house. A pen of the same
size on
a factory farm would contain some 1000 to 1500 birds.

Both hens and broilers have a diet that is substantially different
their unlucky relatives on factory farms. Because the hens are
they are able to choose their own food. Not only is this accomplished
natural foraging but Salatin gives them several different feeds to
from as well. He believes, depending on each individual chicken's
health and
the time of year, these birds will choose the food that is healthiest
them. Since the broiler houses are moved to fresh grass every morning,
broilers also have the same opportunity to choose their own diet. Both
and broilers obviously get plenty of green material, something that
would be
unusual on a factory farm and they are never given steroids or
which induce unnaturally rapid growth. One of the results, and also
reason why it is economically sensible to raise animals in such a
manner, is
that the lifespan of a laying hen on Joel Salatin's farm is generally
years compared to a normal factory farm lifespan of one year.

Lawrence F. London, Jr. Venaura Farm ICQ#27930345
lflondon at mindspring.com  london at metalab.unc.edu
metalab.unc.edu/intergarden InterGarden
metalab.unc.edu/permaculture PermaSphere
metalab.unc.edu/intergarden/orgfarm AGINFO

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