Welcome to Farming Friday on the Fealy Family blog! I’m going to kick off the first of our farming posts this year by sharing some information about a tour happening next week, which I am a little bit excited about!
As most of you know, we are currently in our second year of our “Farm Apprenticeship” here at Blue Sky Produce. We have learnt a lot in twelve months, probably the most of which is that there is still a lot we don’t know! The nature of farming is very hands on, with little time to get away from ‘the tools’ but we are very conscious of the fact, that to be the best farmers we can be, we need to be open-minded and take up as many opportunities as we can to learn as much as we can about farming and the issues facing the wider agricultural industry. So, when we saw the advertisement for the Joel Salatin Tour organised by local community based, family business RegenAg, we knew we had to make an effort to try to get along to some of the events being offered.
I’ll be honest and admit – I didn’t know much at all about Joel Salatin, except for the fact that Time magazine had named him ‘The World’s Greatest Farmer’ – that alone was enough to pique our interest to find out more. I did a bit of research and here’s the basics about Joel.
Joel Salatin is a third generation farmer whose multigenerational family enterprise owns and operates Polyface Farm, in Virginia’s, Shenandoah Valley (USA). Salatin, describes himself as “Christian–libertarian–environmentalist–capitalist–lunatic–Farmer”. His 550 acre farm is touted as America’s premier non-industrial food production property, using direct sale marketing and selling pastured beef, pork, poultry and rabbits to more than 4,000 families, 50 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets generating some $10,000 per acre income per year.
Here’s a few good links to check out for some more Joel Salatin background;
Joel is also the author of nine books and spends much of his time touring and lecturing about his farming methods and is in Australia this month delivering a stack of events.
RegenAg, in conjunction with a number of sponsors, is co-ordinating Joel’s tour to Cairns, Mareeba, Brisbane, Noosa and Byron Bay and you can find all the details here. Below is a summary of the events happening up here in Tropical North Queensland next week (care of the RegenAg website) .
This event is for local and state government representatives, farmers and entrepreneurs. They are invited to join in this timely opportunity to catapult the regional conversation forward on how we support and grow our local family farming economy, how we link our farmers with consumers and how we get young entrepreneurs started in farming. The Cairns and Tablelands region is ideally suited to further develop and capitalise upon a cornucopia of niche market, farming and food tourism opportunities.
Talking food politics and food ethics, Joel reveals with characteristic wit and practical experience how communities can grow a resilient, solar-driven, participatory, localized and integrated foodscape that supports local farmers and cultivates a sustainable food economy.
One-day jam packed masterclass exploring the secrets of Polyface Farm systems, and how to create a vibrant, diverse, profitable and successful farming enterprise. This day will be chocker block with practical information and the nuts and bolts of how to get started and establish on-farm enterprises that are both regenerative and profitable.
So, although we are now farming here at Blue Sky and I grew up on a Dairy Farm (and I still believe I could milk a cow with my eyes closed), we still feel very ‘new and naive’ as farmers – we don’t even know what we don’t know yet! We are only just now starting to realise and get to see some of the real issues currently facing farmers in Australia. We want to educate ourselves about farming, not to just rely on the opinions of our families (yes Dad – I’m sure I’m going to hear yours once I hit post on this!). We want to gain our own knowledge so that we can earn our place at the ‘farming table’ and in time perhaps offer some viable input into our local farming community.
We believe that if we want a future in farming, then we have to invest ourselves in the industry and invest our time (and money) in learning all we can. Although (and I am embarrassed as an adult in my mid 30’s to say so) I am feeling a little scared and intimidated, like I don’t really belong, I am going to ‘woman up’ and go to all three Joel Salatin events. Matt is coming to the Evening Talk, and depending if he can get off the farm for a day – the master class too.
Is anybody else coming? What do you think are the big farming issues I should take with me to the events? What questions should I be asking Joel? Stay tuned for a post after Joel’s tour for my wrap up!
Oh, and I will be tweeting from the events too, so join me on twitter if you’d like to hear some of the conversation that the sessions will stir up!