Meet Joel Salatin

“I am first and foremost a farmer, but not a very ordinary farmer,” states Joel Salatin on his website. “In fact, I’m known as a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic.”

If those sound like fightin’ words, you’re right – because few people are as passionate about fighting for a healthy earth, a healthy farm, and healthy food as this pugilistic planter.

Background of Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm
Joel Salatin and his family run Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. His parents purchased the “worn-out, eroded, abused” property in 1961. They set out not just to restore the land’s fecundity, but to crystallize innovative farming principles based on healthy techniques completely at odds with what most commercial farmers employ. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and Polyface Farm is a place of healthy livestock and balanced management.

The success – as Salatin himself defines success – has been astounding. “When my parents bought this farm,” he relates, “it was completely worn out – gullies 16 feet deep, large areas with bare shale rock, no vegetation whatsoever. Today, all those areas have a foot of soil. It’s not three feet deep like 500 years ago, but it’s a foot more than it was 60 years ago.”

The Meaning Behind Polyface Farm
Is it any wonder Salatin feels such passion for the earth beneath his feet? “Our Polyface slogan is ‘Healing the land one bite at a time,’” says Salatin. “Our mission statement is far-reaching: To develop agricultural prototypes that are environmentally, economically, and emotionally enhancing and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.”joel salatin on farm

Salatin is upfront about his motivation. “It’s very simple,” he says. “What a privilege to be able to walk out the back door every day knowing that I can participate in the redemption of Creation. To extend redemptive work beyond spiritual into the physical as an object lesson of divine truth … now that’s something you can devote your life to. It’s a sacred enough and big enough mission to enthuse any young person.”

Even the name – Polyface – has significance. The “many faces” of Polyface Farm include thumbing his nose at bureaucratic “organic” certification that means little beyond reams of government paperwork but with no appreciable healing of the land. (Salatin calls his meat “beyond organic.”)

The principles by which Salatin runs his farm (including sales only to local buyers, no shipping) should mean his fame stays local, but in fact the opposite is true. Thanks to a series of radical books (including Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front and The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer), radical articles, radical podcasts, and other in-your-face defenses of holistic farm management, Joel Salatin’s fame runs wide and deep.

“It’s possible to be a farmer and not sell your soul,” Salatin says. He’s living proof – and more importantly, so is his farm.

Editor’s Note: Lehman’s hosted Joel in June 2018, where he was the key note speaker for our Country Living Workshop. For the latest store events and visitors coming to Lehman’s, check out our store events page. 

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3 months ago

[…] Joel Salatin says that you “can’t google experience,” and while it’s true that you don’t know what raising chickens or growing a garden will be like until you actually do it, Justin is going to condense all his trial and error over the year into this list that will jumpstart your success and help you know where to start on this journey. […]

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