310: Who needs a title? This is JOEL SALATIN!

Chatting with a Sustainable Farming giant.

Joel and his family own Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Featured in the iconic foodie book Omnivore’s Dilemma and award-winning film FOOD INC., the farm’s moniker is “healing the land one bite at a time.” A prolific author (12 books to date) and speaker, he promotes local food systems, freedom of food choice, and farming systems that build the commons.

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In This Podcast:

Having three generations of regenerative and sustainable farmers to learn from, Joel Salatin was very immersed in the philosophies of farming that rejected the use of chemicals.  Their efforts over the years on the virtually barren land his father purchased in the early 60’s has resulted in a vibrant, and productive farm that Joel now runs. He shares several key lessons he learned about farming and soil generation, and throws out some gems worth quoting!


Listen in and learn about:

  • How he tracks his story back to his grandfather who was actively organic farming and using a non-chemical approach after WWII and way before Joel was born
  • His father’s education in economics after flying in the war and eventually bought a farm in Venezuela
  • Losing their farm in 1961
  • Settling in Pennsylvania after finding a good deal in a rough valley
  • Blessed with a good water source
  • Getting the advice of many to start farming in the traditional chemical way, and rejecting it
  • Designing their farm in a portable way – the creation of pasture poultry
  • His father’s “Animals move!” and how that defines much of what he does today
  • Controlling where cows poo
  • Some of the sustainable farming concepts that were being used on their farm before Bill Mollison started his movement
  • Starting with almost no soil to the point they could walk without touching any vegetation
“Nature wants to be abundant. Nature is not a reluctant partner… Nature is a partner that wants to dance. Nature wants to immerse us abundance”
  • Perennials flow their energy into the ground, annuals pull from the ground and stores it in fruit etc.
  • Moving to a one-day rotation for their cows and noticing an explosion in soil creation
“Soil doesn’t deepen, it actually up-ens”
  • Taking over the farm at age 31
  • They take in carbon in every way they can
  • How his soil is saturated with calcium and they haven’t applied any chemicals or lime in years
  • Add or
  • The weak link is closing the solar-biomass-decomposition cycle
  • A description of the Polyface Farm, including 650 acres where only 180 acres are open land
“A good farm should be aesthetically and aromatically, sensually romantic”
  • A core of twenty people that generate the farm income
  • They grow pastured livestock and so much more
  • The irrigation system they created to collect and distribute the water that rains on the property
Polyface Farms mission: To Develop Environmentally, Economically, and Emotionally Enhancing Agricultural Prototypes and Facilitate Their Duplication Throughout the World.
“You cant build life out of something that hasn’t lived”
  • Processing biomass over the years

As well as:

  • His failure – The time the tried adding sheep to the farm with a PVC pipe
  • His success – Having his son running the farm willingly, and getting his kids and grand-kids interested in some aspect of the farm culture
  • His drive – Seeing the land come alive! Seeing the land transform.
“Caressing the land to the point where our participatory visceral touch elicits greater abundance in the commons”
  • His advice – Don’t quit participating!

Some of the Books written by Joel:

Your Successful Farm Business: Production, Profit, Pleasure

Salad Bar Beef

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front

You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise

Patrick’s Great Grass Adventure: With Greg the Grass Farmer

Joel’s Book recommendations:     

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

How to reach Joel:  

Website: www.polyfacefarms.com


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