Joel Salatin: a Beyond Organic Local Food Activist

The local food movement has steadily gained ground since its beginnings in the 1970s, and Virginia farmer Joel Salatin has become one of its biggest movers.

| August/September 2009

  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms spread
    Joel Salatin and his family walk the walk, raising pastured livestock at Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA as part of a longstanding commitment to local food.
    PHOTO: RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms spread
    The driveway to Polyface Farm. Salatin runs a apprenticeship program to help new farmers.
    ROBYN LEE
  • joel salatin local food - dog and cows
    Joel's dog takes a turn supervising the cattle.
    RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - geese
    Polyface geese enjoy access to pasture.
    REX MOORE
  • joel salatin local food - solar panel rotational grazing
    Using solar-powered portable electric fencing makes it easier to manage rotational grazing.
    RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - pig
    A Salatin pig, foraging in the brush as pigs are adapted to do.
    RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms sign
    The Polyface Farms sign.
    ROBYN LEE
  • joel salatin local food - rooster and pigs
    Salatin raises chickens and pigs at his farm.
    ROBYN LEE
  • joel salatin local food - joel with chicken
    Joel tending to his chickens.
    RICHARD LORD
  • joel salatin local food - chicks
    Newly hatched chicks.
    RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - foraging pigs
    Salatin's philosophy is to let animals live as natural a life as possible. Pigs have natural foraging skills that they can put to good use in wooded areas.
    RICHARD JEONG
  • joel salatin local food - joel
    Joel is always happy to explain his ideas.
    RACHEL SALATIN

  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms spread
  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms spread
  • joel salatin local food - dog and cows
  • joel salatin local food - geese
  • joel salatin local food - solar panel rotational grazing
  • joel salatin local food - pig
  • joel salatin local food - polyface farms sign
  • joel salatin local food - rooster and pigs
  • joel salatin local food - joel with chicken
  • joel salatin local food - chicks
  • joel salatin local food - foraging pigs
  • joel salatin local food - joel

Joel Salatin is a farmer at the forefront of the return to local food and grass-fed meat. He's best known for his innovative techniques for raising and selling grass-fed meat, his books and articles about farming, and for being outspoken about government regulations that make life difficult for small farmers. His most recent book is Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front.

Hold on to your hat! Here are Salatin's candid thoughts on government regulations, vegetarians, the organic food industry, and making money at farming.

Tell us a little about Polyface Farm.

We're located eight miles southwest of Staunton, VA, in the Shenandoah Valley on 550 acres (100 open and 450 forest). We also lease four farms, totaling an additional 900 acres of pasture. We sell "salad bar" (grass-fed) beef, pastured pork, pastured poultry (both broilers and turkeys, as well as eggs) and forage-based rabbits.



Your livestock and poultry are “grass-fed,” and your farm is “beyond organic.” Do you find people are familiar with those terms?

Public awareness is definitely up. In the 1970s, when I was selling grass-finished beef and pastured poultry, nobody had even heard of the word "organic," much less "grass-finished." Now, thanks to best-selling authors such as Jo Robinson and Michael Pollan, the awareness is huge.

aggiemom98
7/4/2017 1:30:05 AM

I think this is great !!! I wish I was back in my 20's again and know what I know now !! I knew that would come back to me sooner or later !! But I am 65 now and have 7.5 acres but too old to handle it all ..... my 67 year old husband is not healthy enough for too much. Kudos to you !!!







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