As many of you know, July of 2020 was to be the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at Polyface Farm. We were incredibly excited to produce this unbelievable, one-of-a-kind experience. Although you won’t want to miss the rescheduled event in July 2021, this online program is a great alternative in the meantime!

In this very special eight-part tour, students can have a look inside Polyface Farm with host Joel Salatin as he shares eight key facets that all contribute to the regeneration cycle. Each video workshop provides high-definition, close-up, and bird’s-eye footage of each stop on the tour.

Included with this course is an invitation to submit your questions in the comments section of each video. We’ll work directly with the folks at Polyface on getting your personal questions answered. As always, all of the course content at MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR ONLINE can be viewed as much as you like until the course expiration. This course will expire at the end of 2020.

These videos were made possible with the support of Jason Contreras at Sow the Land. Be sure to check out their website and YouTube channel. Thanks, Jason!


Here are the stops you’ll find in this tour:


Eggmobile

Eggmobile

One of Polyface Farm's most iconic innovations, this portable henhouse follows the cows and provides sanitation in the pasture. The chickens scratch through cowpats, spreading them and eating out fly larvae. The hens also pick up newly exposed crickets and grasshoppers, turning all this abundance into top-grade pastured eggs. Attendees can stop by the Eggmobile to learn how to train hens to go in at night, and to hear about moving logistics and densities. This model is land-extensive and not recommended for acreages under 50.

Hoop Houses

Hoop Houses

Most hoop houses are built for vegetable production, but at Polyface, hoop houses provide comfortable winter housing for poultry, rabbits, and pigs. The other 250 days of the year, the hoop houses shelter vegetables or — as will be obvious during the FAIR — serve as great staging areas for events and seminars! Built for both plants and animals, these dual-purpose structures are relatively cheap housing alternatives that can generate cash year-round from widely different enterprises. Plus, diverse enterprises help reduce pathogens and encourage cash flow throughout the year.

Brooder

Brooder

Starting chicks is both science and art. In both stationary and portable brooders, you’ll see techniques for comfort and hygiene to get both chickens and turkeys off to a good start. Bedding, temperature, water, grit, feed, and ventilation all come into play with these simple home-built structures. Anyone who sees these functional brooders will realize that scaling up is doable.

Carbon Shed

Carbon Shed

Polyface integrates forest and open land as the foundation of its carbon economy. A commercial-scale wood chipper turns crooked and poorly formed trees into chips that form the basis of animal bedding during winter housing. This deep bedding offers a carbon-rich absorbent habitat for beneficial bugs to keep pests in check. Stockpiling carbon where it can dry down ensures that its pores can uptake the urine and nitrogen in livestock waste. According to Joel, “If all the money spent on chemical fertilizer were repurposed to forest management, we would have a brand new sacred industry to honor folks who enjoy working outside, and we would have higher organic-matter soils.”

Intensive Grazing Management

Intensive Grazing Management

At Polyface Farm, farmers move cows to a new paddock every day. That requires portable water, portable fencing, and portable shade. Those are the tools of the trade. The art is knowing how much area to allot, computing cow days, and giving adequate rest periods. On most farms, moving cows is a bit of an ordeal; at Polyface, a simple call brings them running. The result of this system is increased fertility, increased production, and a vegetative mosaic that stimulates pollinators and wildlife.

Pastured Pigs

Pastured Pigs

A silvopasture featuring pastured pigs highlights all the components necessary for a successful operation. Land requirements, moving regimens, resting protocols, fencing, and water all need proper attention. Many people struggle to control pigs with electric fence; at this stop, attendees can see how Polyface handles hundreds of pigs a year, even in remote pastures. Since pigs can’t see very well, a highly visible fence is a key to success.

Poultry Processing

Poultry Processing

Under Public Law 90-492, the Polyface open-air poultry abattoir is and has been a keystone of the farm's success. While the current structure is more sophisticated than the first one, it still shows the simplicity of design that makes this a doable enterprise. The Polyface setup, with a well-trained eight-person crew, can run 160 to 200 birds per hour. Two people can do 40 to 50 birds per hour.

Raken House

Raken House

Multifunctional infrastructure is a theme across the Polyface landscape. This combination rabbit-chicken (“raken”) house uses the permaculture stacking concept to enjoy cubic footage rather than just linear floor footage. Rabbits in hutches at eye level and chickens on the floor provide symbiosis. Chickens aerate the rabbit bedding to stimulate composting, and rabbits enjoy an ammonia-free living environment. In winter, pigs practice deep tillage and ready the structure for spring cleaning.

All students who register for the Polyface Farm Tour Course will also be invited to attend a virtual Q&A webinar with Joel Salatin and representatives from The Fertrell Company on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 3:00 p.m. CDT.


Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin's family owns and operates Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, producing salad bar beef, pastured poultry, pigaerator pork, and forage-based rabbits. The farm services 6,000 families and 50 restaurants. Featured prominently in countless media, documentaries, and books, the farm offers many educational opportunities for people wanting to learn these pasture-based systems. Salatin has written 10 books about food and farming, both how-to guides and broad cultural works.

The Polyface Farm Tour Course is sponsored by The Fertrell Company.


The Fertrell Company has pioneered sustainable farming practices. Derived from the words fertilizer, trace minerals and elements, Fertrell’s name continues to be at the forefront of organic agriculture. As manufacturers of organic fertilizer, soil amendments, and animal supplements, they provide farmers with viable alternatives to conventional practices. The Fertrell Company strives to be your trusted partner, creating superior products for healthier soil, planet, and animals. Healing the earth and feeding the world naturally!


$20

Polyface Farm Tour