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Salatin’s Polyface Farm: An enterprise mind-opener

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, Swoop, Va, stands in pasture with cattle
KNOW THIS FARMER? Joel Salatin can show how he pulls profitable enterprises “out of his hat.”
Register now for 3 Intensive Discovery seminars this July at Polyface Farm.

Know about Joel Salatin? What about his Polyface Farm? If you’re a mid- to small-scale farmer and don’t know Salatin, you’ve probably missed out on once-in-a-lifetime profitable opportunities. But now, maybe you have chance to catch up.

A few years back, American Agriculturist introduced readers to Salatin via an exclusive column. He showed how he generates substantial revenue at his Swoope, Va., farm in somewhat remote western Virginia. Many customers drive 100 miles or more for his niche market products. Utilizing agents, subcontractors and direct customer connections, Polyface Farms moves nearly $300,000 worth of products from 100 acres per year.

Here are a few enterprise samples of how this family farm does it:

• Pastured broilers. Moveable range shelters net $1,500 per acre over six months.

• Pastured layers. Using feather net fencing and what Polyface calls Eggmobiles following cattle, one person working 7 hours per week on 5 acres nets $10,000 per year.

• Pigaerator pork. Polyface puts pigs to work turning compost and enriching soils for a net value of $3,000 per acre — without “heavy metal” machinery.

• Portable band saw mill. Turning logs into lumber for sale or on-farm building projects can be a $400-per-day small farm profit center.

Polyface Farm is widely known for its highly productive “Salad Bar Beef” grazing system, forage-based meat rabbit system, and on-farm rabbit and poultry processing. Its latest innovation is drought-proofing pastures with ponds and irrigation.

Upcoming Intensive Discovery seminars
Creating profitable enterprises begins with one’s mindset, contends this grass-roots teacher. That’s why every July, the Salatin family and Polyface staff host a series of two-day seminars limited to 30 people for hardcore how-to instruction on the above-noted enterprises, plus much more. It’s first come, first registered for the following dates: July 16-17; July 20-21; and July 27-28. The cost: $900.

The goal is to touch all aspects of the farm, including marketing and internships, and leave heads spinning with new ideas. The wide-ranging instruction includes scaling up with rental farms and sub-contracting, mob-stocking pasture management, poultry, financial analysis, and all the nitty-gritty practical details based on mistakes and experience at Polyface Farm.

It also will include relationship marketing, a hugely important driver of this farm’s success. That covers on-farm customers, weekly restaurant deliveries, metropolitan buying clubs, agent-designated farmers’ markets and special wholesaling.

The Polyface seminars are cosponsored and coordinated by Acres USA. They’re popular, so don’t dawdle on registration. Go online for more details and to register.

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