The weather is cold, but my computer is staying hot, the fan whirring from the heat generated by the keyboard activity. I’m in full blown planning mode for our first full season of raising chickens on pasture and there are so many details to plan.
I attended the Northeast Organic Farmers Association for Massachusetts winter conference last weekend. Why would a LI chicken farmer attend a conference In MA? Because the Pastured Livestock guru, Joel Salatin, gave a full day seminar to a group of about 200 people. For those who haven’t read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, I highly recommend it. Salatin is featured prominently in the book as a farmer who grows a diverse selection of livestock on pasture on his 500 acre farm in Virginia.
Salatin is the quintessential Jeffersonian “intellectual agrarian” and insures that the cycle of life remains in full force by recycling everything on the farm to benefit the grass, the animals, and the land. He has helped pioneer the resurgence of local, grass oriented livestock systems that nearly died away due to confinement houses and feedlots. The quality of the beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and eggs is so superior to the offering from the industrial agricultural establishment that he has developed a following of immense proportions. Pasturing livestock is gaining popularity around the country and our business model at Browder’s Birds will follow suit.
Salatin is an engaging, passionate and humorous speaker. A few thoughts that he and I agree on:
• Food from our farms should do no harm
• Food we produce respects and nurtures the carbon cycle
• Farms we’re creating are not nuisances
• When we lose openness, we lose transparency, when we lose transparency, we lose integrity
The idea is to bring food, farm and family together in a way that has been lost with the advent of industrial agriculture, confinement houses, feedlots and other farm practices where the public is not only not welcome on farm, but prohibited from visiting. The decline of the small family farm is a sad by product of the consolidation that has occurred in agriculture. In fact, there are twice as many people incarcerated in America than there are farmers. Think about thatx.we’ve become so disconnected from where our food comes from, that we readily accept whatever is put in front of us because we’ve lost the joy of celebrating really good, diverse, nutritious food. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, compare your cardboard tomato at the grocery store vs. a fresh grown tomato on your back porch or garden. There is no comparison and that example is true of countless other types of food.
A few more updates for all of you. Browder’s Birds, LLC is now an official NY state company! I have a laundry list of items to complete over the next couple of months including finalizing the land lease with the Peconic Land Trust, ordering chicks for the season, finalizing my feed vendor, setting up the brooder, ordering the necessary processing equipment, ordering water tests, building the required chicken tractors, and continuing to market to CSAs and our buying clubs. In addition, Holly and I will be moving out to Greenport, NY in late February to a bungalow we’re renting for the next year. I’ll live there full time as the pastured poultry business gets off the ground.
Once we get going, you are welcome to visit any time. Come see the chickens in action and see how they are grown. If you have any interest in helping process the chickens starting in early June, let me know. We will need all the help we can get. More on that later.
In February, you will be hearing more about our marketing efforts including our CSAs and buying clubs. In addition, I hope to blog on life on the farm, the issues we face and the funny things that happen to us.
Signing off from the North Fork!