Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the Farm with Joel Salatin

Found this in the Richmond Times while researching another story. Joel is a definately a pioneer in the local food movement and proof that we can grow food differently. This is a good read, hope you enjoy!

On the farm with Joel Salatin (Added: December 11, 2011)
Alternative farmer and author Joel Salatin says returning to the simple life is perfect antidote for today's fast-paced times. (more) 0 Ratings | 276 Video Views Post a Comment or Rate this Video
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Next Image > < Previous Image Credit: BILL LOHMAN Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things, at his Polyface Farm in Augusta County. Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things, at his Polyface Farm in Augusta County. Credit: BILL LOHMAN The Polyface Farm in Augusta County owned by alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin where he raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things. Credit: BILL LOHMAN Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatinhas written a new book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World." Credit: BILL LOHMAN 1 By: Bill Lohmann Richmond Times-Dispatch Published: December 11, 2011 Updated: December 11, 2011 - 12:00 AM » 1 Comments | Post a Comment SWOOPE -- Last summer, Joel Salatin and his wife, Teresa, were eating breakfast at their farmhouse in Augusta County when they realized they were not alone: a couple with two children — strangers — were standing on their back porch. "They're peering in the kitchen window, saying, 'Here's where they live! Here's where they live!' " Salatin recalled with a laugh. Salatin is far from an A-list celebrity, but in some circles — farmers and foodies, in particular — he's as famous as they come. His Polyface Farms is on a quiet country road west of Staunton, but many people find their way here, usually to buy fresh meat or eggs, or to see how he does what he does. Rarely, though, do they come to watch him eat breakfast. Salatin, 54, has become the face of the alternative farming movement, the plain-talking antidote to industrial agribusiness. He has been cast as hero in food-related documentaries ("Food Inc.") and books (Michael Pollan's "Ominvore's Dilemma"). He gallivants around the world — he's on the road 140 days a year — talking about his pastured chickens, grass-fed cattle and the pigs he sends into the woods to forage for acorns. Like a pied piper, he encourages others to come along, for the good of their food, their families and their planet. It's heady stuff for someone who self-deprecatingly characterizes himself as "a peasant with a pitchfork" whose primary crop is grass. Whatever fame he has achieved goes in the closet with the suitcase when he returns home. Influential as he is on the road, he's just one of the crew at Polyface, toting feed, digging postholes and cutting wood. The dirt under his fingernails represents a badge of honor as, in a way, does the "Steve" patch stitched to his ancient work shirt. Steve? "It's just a shirt from down at the thrift store," he said during a late-November interview at his farm. "We don't care what names are on them. They cost 50 cents, and when they wear out you just use them for rags." To Salatin, that's just normal, which also happens to be the thrust of his new book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World." It's his eighth book, but the first one he's not self-published. Center Street, a New York publisher with a Park Avenue address, is betting the folksy but outspoken Salatin will appeal to a broad audience longing for simpler times. * * * * * "I enjoy the theater" of media interviews and the speaking circuit, Salatin said as his all-terrain vehicle bumped along a dirt road on his farm. "But, man, do I enjoy getting out there and just grubbing and sweating. "My calluses are still plenty good and hard." Salatin is not an easy man to categorize. He's a champion of the local food movement, natural farming and self-reliance; he's no fan of pesticides and man-made fertilizers, government regulations and the wasteful ways of modern society. A graduate of Bob Jones University, a conservative Christian institution, he is welcomed warmly as a speaker at liberal outposts such as the University of California-Berkeley. His faith is deep, his politics well to the right and he's something of a tree-hugger. He's gregarious, but not in an acquiescent way. He's blunt and opinionated; he says more of us should raise chickens instead of parakeets. For those struggling to label him, Salatin saves them the trouble, describing himself as "a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer." "I have a really odd constituency," he said. "I'm loved and hated by everybody." Matthew J. Lohr, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which represents farmers large and small, sometimes agrees with Salatin, and sometimes doesn't. "We absolutely agree on many core values, chief among them the importance of home-grown agriculture," Lohr said. "His low-impact methods appeal to many people who prefer food grown under certain production practices. Joel has raised the consciousness of many people across this nation about the importance of farmers and of buying locally and eating seasonally. We thank him for that." * * * * * Salatin was 4 when his parents moved to Swoope, acquiring a farm that was overused, under-loved and visibly worn out. Shale poked through where lush grass should have been. But the Salatins couldn't be too choosy. They had come from Venezuela, where they had tried farming — his father worked for an American oil company as an accountant, which is how he wound up in Venezuela — but they lost their farm and their savings to political unrest, and returned to the United States for a fresh start. Though his parents never made a living from farming, they nurtured the property back to health by focusing on soil development and composting. His father developed a portable electric fence system that allowed him to move grazing animals from one patch of pasture to another, proving beneficial to the animals and the land. Joel Salatin took to farming immediately. At age 10, he managed his first flock of chickens and started an egg business. He wanted to farm, but wasn't convinced he could make a living. After college, where he majored in English and honed his debate skills, he returned to live at the farm but took a job in town as a newspaper reporter at The News Leader of Staunton. In 1982, having saved a small sum from living with his parents, he and Teresa took a leap of faith: He quit the paper and gave full-time farming a try. "It was about three years until we looked at each other and realized, 'This is going to work,' " Salatin said. "We weren't making much money. Just enough to live on. But it was working." National attention was about the furthest thing from his mind, but it started knocking at his door. In the late 1980s, a writer from the Stockman Grass Farmer magazine attended a field day at Polyface, liked what he saw of Salatin's approach to farming and wrote about it. Before long, Salatin was writing a monthly column for the magazine. Then came invitations to make public speeches. There seemed to be a genuine hunger for information about the sort of small-scale farming he was doing. He started getting phone calls from farmers and would-be farmers. He wrote a manual, thinking that might stop the calls. He cranked out 40 pages on his typewriter about raising pastured poultry, made photocopies, clipped together booklets — and sold 1,000 of them. All that did was lead to more speaking invitations and more books. "Joel Salatin is the alternative food industry's true pioneer," said Allan Nation, editor of the Stockman Grass Farmer. "He has never been afraid to leave the comforts of the fort to expand the frontier for everyone who is following him. When things go wrong he's quick to warn others, and when things go right he's never been afraid of spurring competition for himself by telling others about his success. He is one truly exceptional person." Salatin still farms the way he always has, but he's no longer small-scale. Besides the 550 acres of Polyface, he leases eight other farms to accommodate his multitude of chickens (20,000 broilers and 3,000 to 4,000 layers) and 1,000 head of cattle. His son, Daniel, manages the day-to-day operations, and Polyface apprentices run the satellite farms as subcontractors. Polyface has become an economic engine driving business to other small farmers in the area, Salatin said. The Salatins refuse to ship their food long distances. They prefer selling direct to customers at the farm or through buying clubs across Virginia, although their products are in select stores. He finds farmers markets too inefficient for his taste. Too many "nibblers," as he calls some shoppers. He wants to see people "really buying their food" at farmers markets, not just "little ribboned bottles of condiments and cute bow-tied mini-breads," and seriously move away from supermarkets. Salatin and his wife live in the house he grew up in, his mother lives next door, his grown children live on the farm, and his grandchildren roam the place as he did. Four generations at Polyface is perhaps Salatin's happiest harvest. * * * * * Polyface is open to visitors, who are welcome to shop, look around the farm, even watch the processing of poultry if they wish. Salatin says it's a wonderful idea for people to have a "visceral connection" to their food. He says people must take a greater interest in their food, where it comes from and what it takes to grow. He says they should get to know a farmer, grow vegetables and stock their pantry. Salatin says Americans should change their eating habits — starting with not eating as much processed food and clamoring for out-of-season fruit and vegetables — and become more self-sufficient. "I've met people in the middle of pretty big cities who have a freezer and a large pantry," he said. "They show you their dried goods and all the things they've gotten locally. It's available. You have to plan for it. You have to think about it, and you have to prioritize your life. "It's a mind-set that says, 'Our family is going to re-establish normalcy in our life.' "

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meat processing for organic and local products

Great news in this release as well as additional verification that more people are showing a concern over what they are consuming and taking steps to make changes in their food choices. Hope this trend continues and that Stokes County can be a participant in thes evoulution:

December 7, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE N.C. Meat Processor Goes Organic

Taylorsville, North Carolina- In a boon to the local and niche meat industry in North Carolina, a Taylorsville meat processing company has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process certified organic meats. For over 30 years, Mays Meats has provided custom and inspected meat processing services to local farmers who produce and sell niche meat products in local marketing channels. Mays Meats has been a leader in supporting the growth of the local meat industry by providing high quality inspected meat processing services (e.g., slaughter, fabrication and value-added product development). Longtime Mays Meats employee, Misty Dyson, coordinated the effort for USDA National Organic Program certification. “Our customers do a great job raising animals responsibly; having the option for processing under organic certification provides them with a level of third party verification that many consumers find valuable. Mays Meats is happy to provide this service to farmers as part of an overall effort to help them better market their meat products,” Dyson says.

Local beef producer Shelly Eagan, of Cleveland County’s Proffitt Family Farms, worked closely with Mays Meats in navigating the application process for organic certification. “Misty and I started working together on this back in February 2011. I really don’t think we could have done it without working together. Our beef has been certified organic for the 3 years but we couldn’t legally market using an organic label because we had nowhere to have the animals slaughtered under organic certification. We’re thrilled to now have that option. I think there are a lot of folks out there who are actually raising animals ‘organically’ who might consider getting certified now that they can actually make those claims on their labels.”

NC Choices Coordinator, Casey McKissick, notes, “It’s exciting to see the positive outcome of farmers and processors working together toward a common goal. It’s these types of partnerships across the supply chain that are moving the local meat industry forward in North Carolina. Mays Meats is the only commercial processor in North Carolina to provide slaughter and cut and wrap services under organic certification. This will create more market opportunities for local livestock producers and product choices for local consumers.”

Niche meats are meat products marketed based on attributes such as “organic,” “local,” “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” “humanely raised,” and “grown without antibiotics or added hormones.” The local and niche meat industry in North Carolina has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, bringing new economic opportunities for farmers, processors and other industries that support the local food economy.

A recent review of meat and poultry sales through natural foods retailers shows the “natural and organic
sector” growing at a much stronger rate than conventional meat and poultry sales. For example,
between 2008 and 2010, nationwide red meat sales increased 1.7 percent whereas natural and organic
red meat sales increased by 15 percent (Mintel 2010).

According to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), there has been a steep
increase in the number of farmers in North Carolina who are securing their meat handlers’ registrations—a
requirement for transporting and selling packaged, inspected meat. As of November 2011, 499 farmers held a
meat handler’s registration. That number is nearly four-fold increase since 2007 (NCDA 2011).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Think Stokes First: Holiday Night on the Town in King

Friday - December 9- 5:00-9:00 pm- Holiday “Night on the Town” The King Chamber of Commerce invites you to an evening of holiday celebration and shopping in the local shopping centers and downtown stores. There will be carolers from Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio and Wishful Thinkers will perform from 7:30-9:00 pm at Coffee, Tea & Me. Many merchants plan to offer refreshments in sharing the holiday spirit. Habitat for Humanity will be celebrating the Grand Opening of their Re-Store with a ribbon cutting at 7:00 pm, and with a Holiday Market of vendors in their building. Dalton’s Crossing, a new clothing store coming to the downtown area will also provide a “sneak peek” and their corner building will house Bubble Me Pink girls’ accessories, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Tupperware vendors. Stop by the Chamber office to visit vendors there including Elke’s Shoppe collectibles, Mimi’s Accessories for Women, Pitter Pat Boutique with decorative clothing and accessories for children, Bill McKinnis and Jennifer Sealey with tinware and beeswax candles, the Loveday’s woodcrafts and Jan Rollyson’s ceramics. Stop by Bunny’s Trees to have your picture made with Santa. Stores including those below will be open in many locations with special merchandise ready for your gift giving:Downtown King -Gentry’s Store-Radio Flyer toys, Schrade Commemorative Knife-150th anniversary of the Confederate States of America, Eden Pure Heaters and sleds Terry’s Furniture-great selection of quality furniture ready for delivery now Nothing Ordinary Unique Gifts-huge variety of gifts and decorative items with up to 75% from 6:00-9:00 pm on selected items Carroll Memorials-marble bookends and desk nameplates, fossil stone candlesticks, pen and pencil sets and flags Mickey & Co. Hair Designs-specials for the evening: single color shellac-$20, double color shellac-$23, French shellac-$25; Waxing: eyebrows-$7, lip-$5, lip & eyebrow-$10 Gift certificates , flat irons and haircare products will be available for purchase. Coffee, Tea & Me-live music, women’s accessories, and of course wonderful beverages King Music Center-instruments, music and lessonsKing Computer Center-electronics and suppliesB.J’s Shoes-boots, Converse and Pointer Brand overalls. Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio- dancewear, gift certificates and performances by the Musical Theatre students Dalton’s Crossing-men and women’s clothing store opening in February Talley’s Flower Shop-live plants, home d├ęcor, candles, stuffed animals and much more Habitat for Humanity of Stokes County-Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting at 7:00 pm on Friday, December 9 at the new office and ReStore, 117 Dalton Road. Habitat will also have a Christmas Market in their new facility featuring Carolyn Tilley with Handmade Baskets, Kim Burroughs with quilted items, Amanda Hamilton with Premier Designs Jewelry and Jeanette Pardue with Scentsy. King Shopping Center King Antique Mall-antiques, collectibles, advertising items, glassware and Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies
Tradewinds Consignments and Jewelry-nice collection of winter apparel and accessoriesAbba’s Family Thrift Store-toys, clothing, books and holiday decorating items. All porcelain dolls-$3.00, all Christmas items-25% off, all books $0.25 .King Chamber of Commerce –Limited Edition King T-shirts - (Construction Survivor). Prices are (S-M-LG - $10.00) and (XXL - $12.00) Yhese make great socking stuffers

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lodging Needed

A common theme during my time in Stokes County has been the lack of available lodging. Here are the facts: we have nearly 1,000,000 visitors a year, they have very limited options on where to stay if they want to extend their visit.

We understand the reality of the situation, it is very unlikely that one of the large chains will pick Stokes County as a location. That means we need to look at other options: campgrounds, RV Parks and individual cabins. This idea works in other areas across the state, especially along the coast and in the sparsely populated rural areas of the Appalachian Mountains, there is no reason that it will not work here.

The EDC Board and I have discussed this in detail, along with our Planning and Envirnmental Health Departments. We believe that we can work with prospective lodging developers with the guidelines that are already in place to assist them in creating the rooms necessary to fuel tourism spending.

We already have mechanisms in place to help with marketing cabins or vacation rentals. Our PurePlay tourism website receives 70-80,000 visits each month, we work closely with Hanging Rock State Park, all our river hosts and the other tourism venues across the county. What we need are people who believe in this opportunity to step in and make things happen.

We have scheduled a meeting to discuss this matter in more detail on December 12 at 10 AM. It will be held in the third floor conference room of the Reagan Building in Danbury. I ask that if you know of anyone who shares our passion and the vision of the future to join us. Good things are taking place, be a part of it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Assistance for Organic Farmers

I received this today and wanted to share it. Please pass it on to anyone who is farming organicly or looking to do so.


Raleigh, NC. (Nov. 22, 2011) – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking applications for a national initiative being offered in North Carolina. Administered under the 2008 Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the EQIP Organic Initiative helps certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production meet their conservation goals. Technical and financial assistance will help producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable.

Funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative will be available soon. Now is the time for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic productions to work with their local USDA Service Center to establish eligibility and apply so that their applications can be considered when funds become available.

EQIP is primarily used to provide financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices to address soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. An organic provision targets organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production:

Assistance is for conservation practices related to organic production
Assistance is limited to $20,000 per year and $80,000 during a six year period
Producers are required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan (OSP) or carry out practices consistent with an OSP
Producers must be pursing an organic certification or in compliance with their organic certification The initiative is available for farmers who are certified organic, transitioning to certified organic, or organic exempt according to USDA’s National Organic Program regulations. Farmers can submit applications for the initiative anytime throughout the year. However, NRCS will begin ranking eligible EQIP Organic Initiative applications on February 3, 2012 for possible funding. Applications are ranked based on greatest environmental benefit. For an application to be considered complete for ranking all land and producer eligibility requirements must have been met. Applications that are not complete by the first ranking date will be deferred to the next ranking period, which is anticipated to occur on March 30 and June 1, 2012.
Under the EQIP Organic Initiative applicants can apply for numerous conservation practices that benefit natural resources including: experimenting with cover crops and crop rotations, installing intensive grazing infrastructure (grazing plans, internal fencing and water lines), establishing wildlife and pollinator friendly habitat, and installing seasonal high tunnels. Applicants who apply for the national initiative can also apply for conservation practices under the general EQIP program.

Farmers should visit their local USDA Service Center today to apply for available funding for Farm Bill programs and initiatives; locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS North Carolina website at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.