Fundraiser for Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund Held at Polyface Farm


Joel and Teresa Salatin Hosts for FundRAISER on behalf of FTCLDF

Salatin and Polyface Live

by Guest Blogger, Joseph Heckman, Ph.D.

Many folks have read about Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in The Omnivores Dilemma, Acres USA, The Stockman Grass Farmer or seen him in the movie Food, Inc. Listening to a recording of a favorite musician does not compare with a live concert experience.  Likewise, in the case of “rock stars” of sustainable grass based farming and traditional/local food systems, nothing recorded comes close to experiencing a live tour given by Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm.

On September 11th I had the pleasure of attending the annual Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense FundRAISER farm tour and lunch hosted at Polyface Farm. 

Joel-Salatin-Explains-on Farm-Tour

Joel Salatin and his roving band of pigs

I had viewed The Polyface Farm video numerous times since I have been showing it for many semesters of teaching agricultural courses at Rutgers University.  From that movie I came with certain expectations of what I would see and hear, but the farm tour offered so much more.  Joel Salatin is a talented speaker and teacher who is always coming up with new and better ways of describing the principles of ecological farming systems.


Joel Salatin Outstanding in His Field (with his grassfed cattle)

For example, at one point during the tour with the cows grazing in the pasture around him, Joel pulls up a long stem of grass and bends it to make a kind of “S” shaped graphic.  He uses this to illustrate that the growth pattern of grass takes place in a sigmoid curve.  This pattern is one of slow growth initially, followed by rapid growth, and finally slow growth as the grass approaches maturity.  Using this prop and his colorful descriptions of forage growth stages he makes his salient point about the proper time for “the cows to meet the grass” –- near the end of the rapid growth phase.  With the audience standing where the cows were yesterday, and Joel standing in the tall grass where the cows were moved to that morning, this was a very effective teaching moment in the principles of rotational grazing.


Mobile Chicken Coops are Moved Behind the Cattle

Another wonderful ecological feature that added to this pastoral concert was the flock swallows that swirled all around over the grazing cattle.  As Joel pointed out, we never saw any swallows flying over the chickens on the short pasture, only the cattle.  These herbivores stir up the insects while grazing in the tall grass and the swallows are there to capture that meal.  This is just one example of the observable ecology of the live tour that is not apparent on the The Polyface Farm video.

At the end of the tour, Joel was presented with a hot off the press copy of The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.  Everyone in attendance also received a copy of this newest book by Joel Salatin.

The tour was followed by a wonderful meal prepared by Local Foods Chef Ben Thompson that included fermented dill pickles and peach chutney made by Real Foods Chef, Monica Corrado, and fresh baked whole grain artisanal Breads by Nourishing Traditional Foods Cook, Maureen Diaz and a wine tasting by Jason Bise of the Country Vintner.


Soy Free Feed Available at Countryside Natural

Before heading back home everyone filled their coolers with foods for sale at the Polyface Farm Store.  (In addition to shopping at Polyface Farm, a number of us purchased soy free organic feed at Countryside Naturals in nearby Fisherville, VA.  In my case, the savings from avoiding charges on shipping chicken feed to my farm in New Jersey was huge.)


Max Kane and David Gumpert

People had come to the FundRAISER not just from Virginia and surrounding states, but also folks came from Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconsin, and even Arizona.  All over this great land people evidently care very deeply about local traditional food systems and defending their human right to enjoy such foods.

Many thanks to Cathy Raymond of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund for organizing this enjoyable event for a good cause.  I am already looking forward to next year.


Dr. Joseph Heckman

Dr. Joseph Heckman is a soil scientist with the Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station. He grew up on an organic dairy farm, and has helped to organize the Rutgers Raw Milk Seminars. Heckman has written a number of articles on organic farming for Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal published by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and protects consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods.

Note from Kimberly: If you’d like to participate in the Benefacator Appreciation Event at Polyface Farm next year, please contact the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund at info at

Cathy Raymond would like to share her fabulous photos of the last two years of this event with you:

View the FundRAISER Photo Album 2010.

View last years photos, FundRAISER Photo Album 2009.

And here is another blog about the FTCLDF event from Chef and Cooking Instructor, Monica Corrado, a sponsor.

Joseph is a frequent guest blogger for Hartke is Online! See his recent blog posts, below.

For Family Fun Tour a Raw Dairy Farm

Massachusetts Scene of a Modern Day Rebellion

Backyard Poultry Farming Explained by Soil Scientist

Would you like to submit a guest blog? Visit the  About page.


  1. Wish I could have attended….go Joel!!

    Last week Organic Pastures Dairy just got their first 500 Rhode Island Red chicks. We will have an Egg Mobile and pastured eggs in five months!!

    Can not wait…we are taking on more and more faces.

    Mark McAfee

  2. Mark,
    We will be honored to buy your eggs as well as your fine milk. Thanks for having a truck at the Danville farmers market.


  1. […] Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm “LIVE” Jump to Comments This is an excerpt from a recent guest post by Joseph Heckman, Ph.D., on Kimberly Hartke’s blog: […]

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