At Polyface Farm, Process Means as Much as Product

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY -- A world-famous farm right here in the Valley is sparking an industrial agriculture revolution.

At Polyface Farm in Swoope, it is as much about the process as it is about the product.

"Our methods follow the principles of nature, and how they fit together and in symbiosis," said Daniel Salatin, third-generation farmer at Polyface. "So we use the animals to dictate how they are best to be raised, and to work together."

Free-range chickens, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised poultry are all part of the Salatin family farming recipe.

"All of the things that cause smog, pollution, runoff, all that," Salatin said. "When you raise the animal the way it's supposed to be raised and you work them together, you require much, much less of that."

It is a strategy farmers come from all over to learn.

Farmers like Tom McCrea from Westmoreland County made the pilgrimage to Polyface, looking for practices to imitate.

"It's just a more efficient way of doing things," McCrea said. "I grew up all my life, everybody saying 'Boy, farming is a big gamble.' This has kind of been a sure bet."

The Salatin method is also applauded for the nutrition and taste of the food it bears. The way animals are raised and what they are fed, Salatin said, makes a big difference in how healthy they are to eat.

"Couch potato animals make couch potato people," he said.

The Polyface farming method is now more widely embraced, something Daniel Salatin likes to see.

"The actual food that we eat every day should be the most sacred work that we focus on in our culture," he said.

Salatin said he hopes to see their method of farming become the "new normal."


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