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Reconnect with your “Ecological Umbilical” at Polyface Farm

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Photo Credit: Bobby Gill @ultragrassfed

At the Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard University this past weekend, Joel Salatin gave an inspirational keynote speech that encouraged us all to reconnect with our ecological umbilicals. Joel wants to re-establish historical normalcy in our food supply, as well as in our greater culture, by making use of innovative technology and our knowledge of biologically appropriate farming techniques. He envisions a future of edible landscapes, domestic larders, pastured livestock, and solar driven carbon cycling in agriculture. I hope, for the sake of our country’s future, that Joel’s vision will one day become a reality.

Sometimes Joel’s ideas can be hard to visualize if you’ve never seen them in action.

I was fortunate enough to visit Joel’s farm in 2010 for a fundraiser farm tour and barbecue banquet that knocked my socks off. Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia is a multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm run by the Salatin family. It’s an incredible model for sustainable permaculture where all the animals play an important role in maintaining ecological balance.

During my visit to Polyface Farm two years ago, I got a chance to see how Joel produces his “salad bar” beef, “pigaerator” pork, and pastured poultry on an economically viable scale. One thing I will never forget about my visit is getting to see how joyful Joel’s young pigs were – they reminded me of puppies chasing each other around the forest enclosure where they were allowed to play, roll in mud, and root for tasty treats. Seeing how incredibly happy these pigs were almost made me feel guilty about eating them, until I remembered that the reason these pigs were provided such a worry-free existence was in order to provide us humans with incredibly nourishing food.

At the end of the day, Joel’s farm is the epitome of the circle of life, with respect for every animal in the chain from the lowest soil bacteria, to the cows on pasture, to the humans nourishing themselves on the grass-fed beef. It’s the way good food production was designed to function.Visiting Joel’s farm was a turning point in my career path, and motivated me to become more involved in the real food movement. I can’t imagine a better experience if you are looking for a way to reconnect with where your food comes from, and learn about how farming can be used to both heal the earth and nourish our bodies.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you all about the great opportunity coming up at Joel’s farm.

On Saturday, September 8th, 2012, Joel will be hosting another tour of his incredible farm, along with an amazing meal featuring meat straight from his pastures. He’ll load everyone up on the hay wagons and take them around for a tour of all the key features of his awesome farm. Hearing Joel himself discussing how he raises his animals, and explaining how his method of permaculture supports the local environment an economy, is an unforgettable experience for any Paleo or real food junkie.

In addition to the in-depth tour of Polyface Farm, there will be local wine sampling and an outdoor over-the-top barbeque and local foods lunch with the Salatin family. All attendees will receive a $10 shopping gift certificate, and door prizes including a shopping spree at the Polyface Farm Store. If you love good meat and you want to learn more about sustainable permaculture, this is an event not to be missed!

And if that wasn’t enough, this all-day event is being held in support of a great cause: raising much needed funds for the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, an organization dedicated to protecting the legal rights of our nation’s family farms, artisan food producers, as well as their consumers and affiliate communities.  Born out of the need to protect our access to the foods of our choosing, FTCLDF also defends the legal rights of the farmers to produce and direct market these foods  Supporting the FTCLDF is absolutely essential if we value the kinds of food that optimize our health and wellbeing.

Meat, Meat, and MORE MEAT!

I’ve seen the menu for the barbecue, and I’ve gotta say – I’m already envious of anyone who will be partaking in this feast. Chef Jed Shaner will be creating a barbecue of chicken, pork, and beef; he’ll marinate the meats for days and then slow cook them for hours onsite at Polyface. Chef Mike Lund will be providing the veggies, including a farmer’s market salad with tomatoes, tarragon vinaigrette, and edible flowers. There will be herb roasted potatoes for those of you who enjoy your safe starches, and even some gluten-free cherry and peach-blueberry pies topped with ice cream from grass-fed cows for those of you who like to indulge in sugar and dairy. These are just a sampling of the incredible food that will be enjoyed following the farm tour! (Personally, I think the meat is the ultimate menu item that can’t be missed!)

For more information about this incredible day of education and eating, check out the event homepage. I had an amazing time when I attended this event, and I know you will too!

Laura is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, pursuing her MPH and RD degrees, and will graduate in 2013. She is passionate about teaching others how to incorporate nutrient dense traditional foods into their everyday diets. Her blog is Ancestralize Me!

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  1. Lynn
    August 18, 2012 at 8:08 am

    My husband & I visited Polyface about 5 years ago. Not on a tour, however. We were vacationing in the Shenandoah Valley and called the farm to ask if we could stop by and see it, plus buy some products as we had the use of a kitchen. We were allowed anywhere on the farm except the private houses, only asked to close any pasture fences we opened. Wow, talk about transparency! We spent 2 hours wandering around, speaking with a few employees and some of the interns/apprentices. We bought bacon, ham, chicken, eggs, a beef steak and pork chops. To say they were all delicious is an understatement. Do what you can to get to his farm AND donate to the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Every day they fight for our rights to buy direct from producers plus support farmers when they are harassed by govt. bullies.

  2. Allan Balliett
    August 19, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Maybe you can’t make it to Polyface for this event, but whatever you do, please support the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (http://www.farmtoconsumer.org) If it wasn’t for Pete Kennedy and his staff we would have been put off from the leased land our CSA has been biodynamically farming for over 10 years after our landlord went into bankruptcy. There is simply no way small scale ecological farms can afford lawyers. At the same time, since farms and farmers are held in such low regard by the mainstream and businessmen in general, we are all vulnerable to illegal or inappropriate interference. The future of small farming is everyone’s future! Give what you can or at least join as a member. Pete Kennedy and Consumer Legal Defense keep a lot of farmers on their land every year! (Our right to buy directly from the people who produce our food is a right we all need to fight to re-establish!)

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