Salatin Family Models Non-Industrial Farming

Reader Contribution by Andrew Perkins and Mother Earth News Fair Director
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With the 2019 FAIR season now in the rearview mirror, we are full speed ahead on 2020 planning. That includes the first EVER on-farm FAIR experience! Advance passes for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at Polyface Farm will be available for purchase on the FAIR website later this month, and they will include “earlybird” discounts. Check back the week of Nov. 11.

Further down in this posting are a few images featuring some of the “points of interest” that attendees will experience at this one-of-a-kind event along with captions written by Joel Salatin. First, here is a little history on the farm:

In 1961, William and Lucille Salatin moved their young family to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, purchasing the most worn-out, eroded, abused farm in the area near Staunton. Using nature as a pattern, they and their children began the healing and innovation that now supports three generations.

Disregarding conventional wisdom, the Salatins planted trees, built huge compost piles, dug ponds, moved cows daily with portable electric fencing, and invented portable sheltering systems to produce all their animals on perennial prairie polycultures.

Today the farm arguably represents America’s premier non-industrial food production oasis. Believing that the Creator’s design is still the best pattern for the biological world, the Salatin family invites like-minded folks to join in the farm’s mission: to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.

Contented salad bar beef cows lounge under a portable shade mobile at Polyface on a hot summer day. The Eggmobiles follow closely behind, enabling laying hens to scatter cow patties and eat fly larvae.  Biological sanitation duplicating nature’s bird-herbivore symbiosis is a foundation to health and hygiene.  The guard goose watches for aerial predators.  Polyface models mobile and scalable infrastructure for pasture-based livestock systems throughout its production.

On-farm processing at Polyface offers environmental bio-security (chickens don’t scatter feathers all over public roads) and value-added opportunity in pastured broilers. With simple, low-cost processing infrastructure available today, highly efficient small-scale farmstead production is now possible and profitable. Benchmark throughput is 20 birds per person per hour.

Mobile boiler shelters offer pastured birds a new salad bar, new lounge area, and new bugs every morning.  Vacated squares behind the shelters quickly recuperate in newly fertilized forages. At Polyface benchmark: one person can move 4,500 broilers an hour without any more equipment than a small, customized hand dolly. To date, the farm has never lost a broiler to a hawk.  This model facilitates debt-free embryonic entry and subsequent scaling.

Pastured turkeys enjoy expansive paddocks defined and protected by electrified netting.  The “Gobbledygo” offers mobile shelter and roosts for flocks of 400 birds. Moved every couple of days, the turkeys stack an additional income to broilers, cattle, and laying hens. The multi-enterprises substantially increase income per acre and offer pathogen control through biological diversity.

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