As most of you know and saw in Food INC, after 23 years of raising chickens our contract with Perdue to raise chickens was terminated in July 2008. Since then the two single purpose industrial sized chicken houses on our farm have remained empty and we no longer raise chickens for the industry.
The greatest fear among contract growers is that their contract will be terminated and they’ll lose the farm that has been so heavily mortgaged to grow chickens for a company. Knowing that the contract may be terminated at anytime by the company they grow chickens for, has kept farmers silent.
We have been fortunate enough to make ends meet and keep the farm. Over the past year or so I’ve had the opportunity to see many different ways of raising chickens. My good friend Alexis Koefoed of Soul Food Farm in Vacaville CA inspired me by what she does on her farm.
There is much to consider when undertaking a new enterprise especially when the enterprise is to put the farm back into production. Farming is not easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Frankly it’s hard work every day 365 days out of the year.
The next step was to figure out how we would do it. It was a definite “no” to industrial production. The foremost reason was that we wanted to do something that we felt good about and we wanted to work for ourselves rather than the company dictating how we should raise chickens.
We’ve found several ways to make adaptations to our industrial sized buildings and are converting to a pasture based egg farm. I call it going back to the future because I’ve heard the whispers by some who say that we are going back in time. One could look at it that way, I suppose, however I see a future which I like not a past that I don’t like.
Our goal is to create a sustainable working farm raising hens for pasture based egg production. I hope this can also serve as a model for others and that they can use it to adapt to their own needs and desires of raising chickens in a better way.
Development of a local food chain whereby local farmers producing independently can connect with buyers and distributors is the ultimate vision of the new adventure. Keeping dollars local sustains communities!
In the following weeks I’ll be posting news about the progress of our “girls” so check back often and join me in our new adventure!