I had the privilege of spending the day with Joel Salatin, a third generation alternative farmer, author, and the articulate farmer who appeared in the movie, Food, Inc. Salatin is a full-time farmer at Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and has authored nine books, four of them being how-to type books about organic farming. He was the featured farmer at the 2012 Follow the Farmer event at A Joyful Noise Farm in Black Forest, Colorado.
Salatin’s mission and primary goal is restoring health, wealth and respect to food and farming. A wordsmith, he describes his occupation as “mob-stocking hervbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” I really enjoyed his sense of humor and passionate conviction to integrated farming practices. Salatin stated, “We practice an integrated system rather than segregated. Animals are near their feedstuffs so that the manures can fertilize the plants that grew the food. The numbers are kept low enough for the farm’s ecology to metabolize the manure and compost rather than it becoming a toxic problem due to over-abundance.”
Salatin started out the day by saying “one thing we are not going to talk about today is what we can’t do. Let’s talk about what we can do.” I quickly learned that he was all about creating solutions. One of my favorite quotes of the day, and believe me there were some great ones, was “the only problem I sees is a constipation of imagination in the world!” We walked around A Joyful Noise Farm and Salatin talked about everything from chicken poop to rejuvenating the soil through disturbance and rest by rotation of animals. I almost felt like at the end of the day, I could become a farmer with what I had learned from him in one day! Don’t worry, I am not going to quit my day job yet.
At the end of the day, I sat down with Joel for a brief interview and asked him two very important questions.