Joel Salatin, Preaching the Heresy of Holistic Farming

Occupation: Farmer, author, rabble-rouser, cheerleader for a new model of food production

Joel Salatin

Place of Residence: Family farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

Background and Personal History:

Joel Salatin's family has been farming in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley since 1961, when his parents purchased a much-abused farm there and began working the land with regenerative techniques pulled from their Biblical understanding of Earth stewardship and the work of J. I. Rodale, who believed agriculture and health are inseparable.

The Salatins gradually restored the soil's fertility by building huge compost piles and gradually working various types of organic matter into the depleted earth. They planted trees, dug ponds, moved cattle daily with portable electric fencing, and invented portable sheltering systems to raise all their animals on perennial prairie plant polycultures. Following in his parents' faming footsteps, in high school, Joel began selling his own products at the local farmers market. After high school, he left for college, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Bob Jones University and came back to Pennsylvania to work as a feature writer for the Staunton, Va., newspaper.

Journalism didn't have the allure of the farm for Joel and, though writing would remain a constant in his life and career, he returned to farming. Soon afterward, he came to a radical concept: What if a farmer might actually make enough money from farming to do it full-time, raise a family successfully and have a good time doing so? That has been his mission and his calling ever since, and it is the message he shares with readers throughout the world. He and his family now raise livestock using holistic management methods and sell the meat from their Polyface Farm (a "farm of many faces") directly to consumers and restaurants in his area. He has become an international role model and mentor for people who want to raise food in ways that are environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial and financially sustainable.

Joel is the author of nine books and lectures and speaks frequently about environmentally friendly farming practices. His books are:

Fields of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating
Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
Salad Bar Beef
The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer
Family Friendly Farming
Pastured Poultry Profits

Current Projects:  "I'm always working on a book project," Salatin says, "and trying to innovate new production techniques on the farm."

Other Fun Facts:

"I married my high school sweetheart, Teresa, in 1980. My favorite hobbies are reading and watching land heal. My true addiction? Ice cream."

More Places to Find Joel on the Web:

Polyface Farms