The following is a synopsis of who we are:
Having both grown up on commercial (i.e. chemical and fertilizer-intensive) potato farms, Lesa and I for several reasons, had no interest what-so-ever in that type of food production. Serendipity would have it that we would become owners of an abandoned dairy farm and the question was what to do with all that fallow land. We sure didn't want to go into the type of farming we had grown up with and again, fate stepped in and a few years ago Cornell Cooperative Extension brought a gentleman by the name of Joel Salatin as a guest speaker at an alternative farming conference at Alfred State College. He planted the seed in me to seek further information about this up and coming "radical" approach to farming called pastured meat production.
This type of farming seemed much more user-friendly and ecologically sustainable and, as a practicing physician, it was obvious to me that this was a much healthier way to raise meat both for the consumer and the farmer. Not knowing if this was something we wanted to pursue in a big way, we followed Mr. Salatin's suggestion and began with pastured poultry since it was seasonal and not capital intensive to get into.
Our first foray into pastured meats was to raise 100 broilers in the summer of 2002. We gave away a couple birds to each of 30 or so neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances to get their input as to whether poultry raised this way was different and more appealing than what they'd been getting at the grocery store. People raved about the taste and texture of the meat and they also appreciated the fact that the birds were raised humanely and chemical-free. The following summer we had orders for 300 plus birds and the amount of orders climbed steadily for the next several years (just through word of mouth).
We then decided to pursue pastured meat production in a bigger way so in 2006 we added pastured meat goats and pigs. We subsequently added pastured turkeys and laying hens. After a few years, the goats had cleared the brush from our pastures so we were able to transition from goats to pastured beef in 2007.
We truly believe that diversified farms are more ecologically sustainable and thus are continuously experimenting with production of other products. We added a few honey bee hives in order to help pollinate our small apple orchard. We thus have been able to sell limited amounts of raw chemical-free honey. We also started rendering our lard which we've sold for cooking and we also have started making our own lard soap which we sell off the farm. We've been experimenting with mushroom production since 2015 and are anticipating our first saleable crop of log-grown Shiitake mushrooms in the summer of 2018.
We love to have visitors to the farm since we feel that it's very important for people to see and know where their food comes from and how it is produced. We truly believe that if more people knew how most of our food is produced commercially, they would demand significant paradigm shifts. We, as a society, have relegated the task of monitoring food quality to others, and they may not always have the consumer's best interest at heart. From the beginning, we've always tried to raise our animals with non-GMO feed. However, it had become progressively more difficult for us to ascertain that our chick, turkey and pig feed did not contain GMO grains, so in 2016 we transitioned to using only certified Organic (non-GMO) feed.
Who knows where this endeavor will take us in the future and what we'll be doing in 5 years. What we do know is that it will be an ever-changing adventure and it will allow us to eat delicious healthy food, meet great people who care what goes into their diet and hopefully be able to re-educate consumers about what real food should look and taste like. For me as a physician and for Lesa as an educator, these are very gratifying possibilities.