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farm of many faces

Last month, I was blessed to get to spend a few days in a very special place that Joey and I had both dreamed about going to for years... Polyface Farms.

Polyface, in Swoope, Virginia, is owned and run by Joel Salatin. I think it’s fairly safe to say that Joel is one of the most famous and influential farmers in America, possibly around the world. His methods for creating a sustainable farming business and his efforts to teach others how to have their own, and his defense for small farmers and farms here in the U.S. are legendary. Pretty much every one of my friends knows of and follows Joel and secretly (or not so secretly) wants to have a farm like his someday, whether they live in the city or the country.

Joey and I first learned about Joel Salatin ten years ago when he was featured in the documentary Food, Inc and the book Ominvore’s Delimna. Since we had a small farm and were new to farming and raising animals, we bought a couple of his books online (which we both read right away) and watched dozens of his youtube videos on raising chickens. Joey even had me build a mobile chicken tractor just like the ones he uses on his farm. And for the next few years, we followed Joel’s advice on how to raise pastured poultry from baby chicks to the freezer (here’s a little video we made during that time)

Once in 2011, after playing a concert in the southern part of Virginia, Joey, myself, and Russdriver took a few-hundred-mile detour on our way home to visit Joel’s farm. We parked the bus and spent a few hours looking around (his farm is always open for visitors even when he’s not home) and taking pictures and dreaming of one-day meeting Joel and his family.

Last fall, that dream looked like it might just become a reality when Joel and his team reached out and invited Indy and I to come for a visit and have dinner with them in Virginia. It took a while for our schedules to work out, but a few weeks ago, I made the trip to Polyface and spent what would’ve been Joey and I's 17th wedding anniversary checking on cows, bailing hay, moving fences and egg mobiles, and getting to know Joel and his wife Teresa, his mama, and son and grandkids, and all the interns and apprentices who have applied from all over the world to learn and be part of Polyface and Joel’s incredible story.

Though a large portion of what Joel champions are sustainable farming, he’s also a wonderful example of a man and his family living simply and abundantly on the land they love and cherish. Passionately leading others while following God with each step he takes. Whether it’s in his farming practices...

Or the way he works, shares meals with, and pours into the wonderful young people who spend months and sometimes years learning from him...

Or how he’s thoughtfully handling the difficult changes at Polyface that have been hard to make, but necessary to keep up with a world that’s constantly changing...

His passion and zeal for helping others have a better life is contagious...

Although I made this trip on my own (Indy spent the weekend with her big sisters Heidi and Hopie), we’re already planning another trip there this fall, when I can bring Indiana. Maybe putting on a fun dinner and intimate concert in one of their greenhouses, when the autumn leaves are in full color and their growing season is coming to an end. I can hardly wait.

I’ll be sure to share more info as it comes together. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Joel and Polyface Farm, check out their website here.



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