Tom, Eric and I headed down to Cowdray Hall in Sussex for a two day course at the beginning of this week with the wonderful Joel Salatin who runs Polyface Farm in the States. Joel has been a personal hero of mine ever since Eric brought a video about his farm back from a Regenerative Agriculture course a year or so ago. Joel Salatin inspired our chickens’ movable pen, our geese, our pigs and our not so far off plans for cattle on The Oak Tree.
But most of all he has helped me to believe that it is possible to farm in a way that is good for the environment, is good for people and is a viable business. Polyface Farm keeps livestock in healthy, humane conditions in a way that improves the soil, is very efficient in a good way, and which provides healthy and delicious food. What’s not to like? Well, to do so he has to break half a tonne of stupid rules and regulations designed to suit industrial agriculture (sound familar?) but he’s not too bothered about that. He’s too busy getting on with it.
Our goals at The Oak Tree aren’t exactly the same as those of Polyface farm, but we can learn one hell of a lot from those good people!
It’s quite a way down to Midhurst, and we arrived fairly late Sunday evening at our campsite. An Oak Tree pork casserole & Oak Tree Salad leaves, prepared in my campervan along with a little refreshment in the form of wine and beer just what was needed too to help us get a good night’s sleep ahead of meeting the great man.
Next morning Eric was up bright and early to feed a campsite robin some of his breakfast…
Eric shares his breakfast
I’m not going to try to summarise everything we learned from Joel. Frankly everyone who attended the course, including some very extremely experienced farmers, was bedazzled by the range and breadth of Joel’s knowledge, and his incredible enthusiasm. Essentially Joel shows, by his own example and experience, what really matters when running a farm that aims to make a positive difference.
So what I will attempt to do here is give you a tour of the wonderful ideas and experience of Joel Salatin links from the web.
Firstly a video of Joel Salatin introducing Polyface Farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxTfQpv8xGA
TED talk by Joel Salatin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T9UaP1AsMI
… and an interview in The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/31/food-industry-environment
If you’re really getting serious, get hold of a copy of Food Inc. It is a fantastic, though frightening, film, that feature Joel:
And this book of his is most definately on my birthday list!
I’ve already read this one, and he dedicated my copy to us all at The Oak Tree Farm.
And finally here we are with the great man himself:
Tom, Joel, Joanne and Eric