Home' Smart Farmer : May 2014 Contents Smart news
Joel Salatin inspires
farmers of the future
By MALCOLM SUTTON
AGROUP of young farmers
working the land at Willunga
were treated to a rare visit
by one of the United States' most
influential farmers on May 3 -- Joel
Salatin, manager of Polyface Farms,
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.
Jay Kimber, Alex Steimanis,
Emmanuel Marquis and Aidan
Jones welcomed Mr Salatin to their
heirloom vegetable enterprise which
they set up through the Willunga
Farmers' Market pilot Young
Farmers Scholarship in January.
Mr Salatin rose to prominence
because of his philosophies against
supermarket-driven food produc-
tion systems that foster long-
distance distribution and non-local
He restricts distribution from his
2000-hectare free-range, organic
livestock farm to within three hours'
drive, and yet supplies more than
5000 families, 10 retail outlets and
50 restaurants, employing more
than 20 people and enjoying a $2
million annual turnover.
"The need for integrity food has
never been greater," he said.
"What we get from mainland
production in the industrial sector
is quite compromised, nutritionally,
environmentally, economically and
Mr Salatin said good farming and
good food required "more eyes and
hands participating", whether that
was getting consumers into the
kitchen with a culinary perspective,
or getting more farmers on the land.
"The fact is you can't have real
integrity about anything without
a lot of eyes and hands being
He said this made food produc-
tion more expensive because labour
was pricier than chemical use, but
ultimately this was compensated
because it created less "ecological
collateral damage" for society and
"It builds soil rather than depletes
soil. It encourages water rather than
more desertification. There is more
nutrient density in the food and
there is no pathogenicity, no col-
lateral pesticide drift, herbicide drift
or nerve damage among people," Mr
"But as these kinds of local systems
gain prominence, they will enjoy
some of the economies of scale in
distribution and marketing that the
"All innovation has high costs but
the time will come when it reduces."
The young farmers were ecstatic at
meeting such a "mentor" in the early
stages of their small vegetable plot.
Mr Marquis said a lot of people
working in the community held Mr
Salatin in very high regard, and was
keen to hear his perspective on their
wood chip work, which he talked to
them about at length.
Mr Jones said a lot of his friends
had posted inspirational quotes and
images from Mr Salatin's farming
practices on social networking sites,
and said it was "inspiring" to see him
come out to their own farm.
Mr Steimanis said his visit was an
extension of the "community spirit"
that was so prominent in local farm-
ers markets and food production.
"It's snowballing now, and it's
Willunga Farmers' Market Young Farmer Scholarship recipients Alex Steimanis,
Emmanuel Marquis, Aidan Jones and Jay Kimber at the markets after meeting
Farming 'guru' visits Willunga
Young farmers inspired by work
Call for more hands on the land
just going to get better and better,"
Ms Kimber said receiving the
scholarship, and a visit from Mr
Salatin, was "very exciting".
"I've done quite a bit of farming on
other people's properties, on six or
seven farms, and I've always wanted
to do my own," she said.
"Suddenly I'm thrown into this
situation and I've never prepared
land from the ground up."
Willunga Farmers' Market Board
deputy chairperson Pip Forrester
said the scholarship was designed to
encourage young people to farm to
offset an aging farming population.
"These guys have been at this
for a few months now, so to have
Joel come and visit them with his
incredible reputation and farming
practices -- they're very excited,"
"It will give them impetus, and
they're just at the beginning of this
Mr Salatin's speech at the
Willunga market attracted hundreds
of people eager to hear the 'guru' of
He has authored several books and
was named Time magazine's 'The
World's Most Innovative Farmer'.
Influential US farmer Joel Salatin
states his case at the Willunga
A strong crowd turned out to the
Willunga Farmers' Market to hear Joel
Salatin talk on Saturday, May 3.
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