By Sharon Stringer
The visit to Joel Salatin's 550 acre Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley was awesome. What a wonderful way to get indoctrinated to SEJ's conference day tours. The trip was worth waiting stand-by to board the 7:30 a.m. bus.
Joel Salatin is a character in his own right ,who is not bashful about sharing his disdain with Washington's farm policy makers. He said that if it comes out of Washington, don't believe it.
Salatin challenged everything about the food cycle, from production practices to consumption. By the time I had left the farm I was ready to go home and rid my kitchen of all processed foods, as well as my neighbors'. I 've even decided I need to go home and plant a garden. Never mind it's October, I live in central Pennsylvania, and bugs and worms give me the creeps.
Identified as "one of the most productive and sustainable farms in America," Polyface Farm is a place where production methods are "light on the landscape. We have an ethical moral road from the farm to the plate," he said.
Salain is a farmer, writer and a "poster child for the local food and farming movement." While not quoted in the article, Salatin was contacted by the New York Times as a reference for Michael Pollan's Oct. 12th letter to the president-elect. The Times wanted to verify if it is true that farmers cannot smoke a ham and give it to a neighbor without violating USDA policy.
The trip to Polyface Farms was followed by a visit to the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia and lunch provided by Chipotle. It was great. The burritos were filled with pork from the Polyface Farm.
The Frontier Culture Museum features recontructed working farms of the 17th and 18th centuries. My stops took me to farms that would have been constructed in Germany, Northern Ireland, and Rockingham County, Va. Good thing it wasn't too hot. We wouldn't have been able to withstand the heat from the ironsmith or the hearth fires.
A recreation of a farm from the 1700s in Western Africa is under construction. I'm already thinking about my return for a visit to the Nigerian farm.
We topped the day off with more receptions than I could count. The food was great. In addition to the food, we were treated to some soulful jazz. What more could I ask for at a professional conference?
Well...how about a visit from the future president of the United States?
I've got to go. I need to sign up for Obama tickets. He's scheduled to be at the Civic Center tomorrow at 12:30.