You’re here because you know this already.
Free range, barn raised, even organic are labels we don’t subscribe to. They mean nothing to the consumer. Even Organic. You can grow organic grain and vegetables in soil that won’t support an earth worm. Organic feed formulations are not often disclosed by the manufacturers and we are too innovative in nature to blindly feed our chickens a supplement we have no visibility over. We care too much about our chickens and our customers to not know what we are feeding them.
On Regenerative Agriculture, we consider ourselves regenerative farmers. We are open to practises and methods that may not be widely adopted in the regenerative agriculture space, though. We are less dogmatic than most, we prefer to show our neighbours the benefits of rotational grazing instead of admonishing them, and we hope to connect with grain growers directly in the future, working with those who grow regeneratively, paying the premium to support their work. We hope to work so close with these farmers that we run our chickens on their land in order to close the fertility loop. Life Goals!
We are not sure the label “Regenerative” describes what we do, ultimately. We don’t wish to simply regenerate our land, we want to explore what we can actually achieve when working with nature. We want to go beyond just regenerating our land to a prior state. We want our farm to still be highly productive in 500 yrs.
Yes, we work with nature. But we are exploring what we can achieve and produce on our land in doing so. We use nature as a technology. So labels like regenerative and sustainable don’t quite sit perfectly with our overall philosophy.
We are, genuinely, pastured. This label is something the industrial chicken scene is attempting to move in on. Static sheds with meaningless outdoor access is not a pastured system.
Genuine Pastured is mobile. Chickens moved to fresh pasture every single day. It’s a focus on the chicken being able to express its natural instincts. It’s even more so about the soil and surrounds, and nothing improves in nature without movement.
On Small Farms
We also consider ourselves a small, family farm. Thought we hope to grow out of this label as well. Simply put, we can’t solve the problems in our food system without more small, diverse farms. But we are not going to make a meaningful or complete change without the big ones changing their ways and some of the smaller ones becoming big. For small farms to step up and show we can scale we need to understand the entire distribution, retail and hospitality space. These guys need a quality point of difference, but also scale and consistency. For bigger farms to become more ecosystem focused, we need to provide them a market. Innovation needs to come from both small and big farms. And, like the square pegs in round holes we're used to being, we probably find ourselves somewhere in the middle. At the height of our egg layer business we were running 10,000 laying hens in multiple flocks at no more than 300 hens per hectare. Growth and scale can be achieved without compromise to the integrity of the product.
How does that sit with your own food philosophies? We'd love to discuss your views, too.