Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who are your heroes?

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA is one of mine. If you have some time (over an hour of his talk and Q&A) check out this talk at Berkeley from 2005.  Michael Pollan introduces the man.  Salatin is a zealot for better farming, sounding more like a Preacher then a farmer. He talks about "romancing the next generation" to the beauty and quality of Agriculture that restores the land to its natural pathways.  

This is a true libertarian American who has literally gone around the industrial agribusiness infrastructure to create a highly profitable, ecologically exuberant farm system that ties itself deeply into his surrounding community.  His raising of Cows, Steers, Pigs, Chickens, Rabbits and Turkeys uses a fraction of the Natural Resources that the Industry uses to produce the same meats.  For instance, he can run a full size tractor for a day on 1 gallon of gasoline; his feeds use no industrial products, are all GMO free, when he uses feeds at all of course.  Most of what his divinely raised animals eat is grass, and the small life forms that inhabit this first soil layer.

The key to his success?  Symbiotic layering.  Or, in more approachable terms:  an elaborate system of Pasturing which mimics nature's pathways:  large mammals graze in a continuously moving pattern, managing and diversifying the grasslands;  Birds follow the large mammals soon after, picking out larvae and other insect life from the manure, they in turn nitrogenate (i made that word up perhaps?) the soil, further boosting the diversity and propagation of the grasses - which are then grazed again by the large mammels.  The system has more and more layers as the years go on, Polyface Farm is constantly evolving, using every possible innovation of modern technology.  

Don't want to sit through a lengthy talk (you're missing out!) then check this out:

Be well.

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