Polyface Farm (Part 1)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

~ John 10:10 -11 ~

Polyface Farm, in Swoope, Virginia is probably the most famous farm for sustainable agriculture in America… and we had never heard of it until a few months ago… so it’s never too late to learn. If you haven’t either… It is worth your time getting acquainted if you are looking for ways for sustainable farming and living. :o)

Once Joel Salatin and Polyface farm showed up on our radar, they seemed to be everywhere. For us it started in 2021 with a trip to the “Homesteaders of America” conference where Joel Salatin was the featured speaker. Then, in 2022, some friends of ours (who homestead in Ohio), let us know that they were organizing for Joel Salatin to speak in the area. We couldn’t attend that event, but when we were talking with one of the youth at our church (who built his own goat barn at age 10, and now raises goats, cows and enough chickens to be selling broilers for profit), we asked him how he learned so much and he mentioned Joel Salatin’s books. We were excited to be able to let him know about the event, which allowed him to go and meet this man who has had such a great impact on his life. Then we watched ”Fresh”, and Joel was quite prominent in the video. 

Finally, in May of 2022, we took a trip to Virginia to go camping, and see Rob’s sister and scheduled a tour of Polyface Farm, led by… Joel Salatin. We put together a video of the farm tour, which is far from catching the breadth and depth of the tour, but gives a quick overview.

Our biggest take-away from the visit to PolyFace farm is that what God made works amazingly well if you treat it the way that God created it to be treated (and is amazingly resilient even if you don’t). Here are some examples, simply looking at the cows.

  • Their cows (and other animals) receive no shots and are much healthier (with much healthier and better tasting meat) since they are given the diet and life God created them for. 
    • Most industrially raised animals are given many shots and meds (which go into our food), while cows raised the way God made them don’t need any. (A quick digression: Are we humans required to have many shots these days as well? Could part of that be our weakened immune systems?… and a fair bit of financial incentive for “those in charge”?) 
  • In nature, the larger herbivores come through the fields and keep the grass at the best height for healthy growth while also depositing wonderful fertilizer (manure), which can be used around the farm. When they move on, the birds then follow and peck through the manure for bugs and break it down. This then results in healthier grass (and other plants) and the cycle continues, without the need for any industrial fertilizers.
  • If cows were simply raised the way God intended them (as grazing herbivores), the world would have plenty of food without the need for pharmaceuticals, fertilizer or pesticides (and the bills, health costs and dependence on outside supplies).
    • Think about the supply issues and food shortages that are constantly in the news this year due to fertilizer issues. This problem should never have existed if we had followed God’s natural ecosystems rather than man-made industrialized system.
    • People would then eat healthier foods and be healthier and reduce healthcare costs.

Our personal applications from the trip will be discussed in “Polyface Farm Part 2”.

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