Polyface Farm: My Visit to Local Food Paradise

by Sarah Activism, Green Living, Healthy LivingComments: 11

Polyface FarmLast weekend I had the opportunity to visit ground zero of the local food movement in the United States: Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.  Polyface Inc. has been featured in Smithsonian, National Geographic, Gourmet and numerous other radio, television and print media. The farm achieved iconic status as the grassbased farm featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and the award-winning film documentary, Food Inc.

My visit occurred as part of the annual fundraiser for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to celebrate its mission and vision to defend the rights of sustainable family farms and artisan food producers to make their products directly available to consumers in a manner that protects, preserves and enhances the environment and its natural resources.

If you love local, nutrient dense food and want to preserve your right and your children’s right to access it in future years, I encourage you to become a member of the Fund today.  There is no more effective use of $50/year (or $5.25/month) to protect your food freedom. When the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund reaches a critical mass of membership, you can be sure that the FDA and USDA won’t be sending in fully armed swat teams to mess with our dear farmers anymore!

What a day that will be!  I look forward to it and we can all make it a reality by pulling together to support the Fund!

polyface with KristinaI thought I would share a bunch of photos with you from my idyllic day in paradise at Polyface. The weather was perfection, the company cheerful, enthusiastic and stimulating, and the food nothing short of sensational. Many thanks to Kristina Hernandez (pictured with me at right) who took most of these gorgeous photos and generously shared them with me for you to enjoy.

When I first arrived at Polyface, the big white tent stood out. This is where the farm to fork breakfast and luncheon took place as well as the inspiring after lunch program.

big tent

Kristina, our photographer, standing in front of the registration area as attendees arrive.

farm to consumer legal defense fund

Here I am shortly after arriving at Polyface catching up with my good friend, Kim Schuette, Weston A. Price Chapter Leader of San Diego, California and owner of the clinic Biodynamic Wellness.

Kim Schuette and Sarah Pope

After an amazing breakfast buffet consisting of smoked salmon, egg casserole, salmon souffle, soaked muffins,pastured sausage, farm fresh yogurt with fixins, and of course, fresh grassfed milk, everyone loaded up on three large wagons loaded with hay bales for the grand tour of the farm with our host Joel Salatin.

Hayride

hayride2

At each stop on the tour, Joel Salatin gave an in depth, 15-20 minute explanation of how that particular farm rotation worked. Back and forth discussion with the tour attendees was encouraged with many taking the opportunity to pick Joel’s brain.

joel salatin2

pastured chickens

joel salatin3

Listening to Joel was both entertaining (he is hilarious!) as well as incredibly informative.  My brain was in overdrive!

listening to joel

pastured turkeys

hay

greenhouseJoel has an arrangement to allow his neighbor’s cows to graze on part of his land alongside his cows.

grazing cows

With my new friend Jubilee, a Polyface intern, in front of the Raken house (rabbit-chicken house). Amazing set-up designed by Daniel Salatin, Joel’s son. The raken house is the subject of a new short film directed by Kristin Canty who also directed Farmageddon.

Jubilee and Sarah at the Raken house

After the tour which took a couple of hours, it was back to the big tent for lunch. Pastured pork, chicken, baked beans, and many other selections tantalized our tastebuds! Everyone got very excited when dessert was brought out which consisted of peach cobbler and grassfed ice cream!

luncheon

Polyface luncheon

peach cobbler and ice cream

A visit to the Polyface Farm Store was an absolute must! If I lived anywhere within 3 hours of Polyface, I would make it a point to drive in every month or so and load up!

Polyface farm store

farm store

After our day at Polyface came to an end, many attendees headed over to nearby Staunton, Virginia for the Bacon Palooza and screening of the new film documentary American Meat, which features Polyface Farm. It was great to catch up with lots of amazing people at this event. Below are dear friends Amy Cazin and Casey Parker, of Primal Pit Paste fame who also happen to be members of my local food buying club in Tampa!

Bacon Palooza buddies

Both the Polyface Farm and Bacon Palooza fundraiser events were a sell-out so if you would like to visit local food heaven too, I would suggest making your plans early for the event next year in September 2014. I really hope to attend again!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (11)

  • Kevin

    My wife, son and I visited there two weeks before this event. Wonderful place. We are patterning our own small farm (7.5 acres) after Polyface, in as many ways as is possible.

    September 23rd, 2013 11:28 am Reply
  • Gail

    Sarah, After reading one of Joel’s books and meeting him last year at a conference, I was delighted to see the photos you took of your visit! I had pictures in my mind as to how he operated his farm, based on the book, but seeing the actual photos you posted made it real. I do hope to visit Polyface one day!

    September 15th, 2013 12:53 am Reply
  • Meagan

    I had so much fun at this event and it was great to say hello to you in person. I interrupted your conversation with Jenny from Nourished Kitchen to tell you thanks for doing what you do. I love the pictures you posted. Can’t wait for next year!

    September 13th, 2013 6:52 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      It was nice to meet you Meagan! I wish I had a picture of Jenny to post but I didn’t have any so I had to rely on other’s photos (the battery in my phone died unexpectedly so I was not able to take more than a few myself).

      Sarah

      September 13th, 2013 6:58 pm Reply
  • Briana

    So glad you got to go, and thankful you are sharing it. So much to learn, but on the right track here in North Georgia. I just started following your blog, and I love it! :)

    September 13th, 2013 4:52 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Welcome Briana! Always more to learn for sure :)

      September 13th, 2013 5:08 pm Reply
  • Marita

    So glad you got to go! Joel Salatin is one of my heroes! We were about 15 minutes away from his farm this summer but we were on a scheduled choir tour so there was no chance of stopping :( Sometime… Nice to see the Amish there as well. I’m from Amish country.

    September 13th, 2013 4:31 pm Reply
  • Susan

    Oh how I wish I lived near Polyface!! Especially after reading this article that Kelly the Kitchen Kop had posted on her FB page about the USDA approving the processing of our chickens to be done in China and then sent back to the U.S. So gross!

    http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/usda-allow-china-process-chickens-ship-back-u-214500281.html

    September 13th, 2013 11:33 am Reply
  • Jack Moore

    Thanks, Sarah for the reporting! Joel not only gave us a farm tour, but he made the case as to how grass-based farming really can feed the world and can provide farmers with a better income than debt-heavy conventional farming. Any reader who missed this year, should go in 2014!

    September 13th, 2013 11:23 am Reply
  • Renee

    How exciting for you! Had I known of the place back when I lived in Ohio, I would have LOVED to have visited there! Now that I live in Washington, (and, subsequently, didn’t learn about “healthy” eating until I got here many years ago), I can’t just take a drive over to that lovely farm. Thank you for sharing with us your adventure and delights!

    September 12th, 2013 2:33 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    It does look amazing. Love to have the chance to visit someday.

    September 12th, 2013 2:24 pm Reply

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