Lessons of Profitable Farming: How One 'Farm School' Hopes to Attract Young Millennials to the Land
- If you want to catch aglimpse of what farming's future
could look like, Joel Salatin'sfarm is the place to come.
And wannabe farmers are coming in droves,
hoping to change thedirection of a tradition
that's become known for it's failure
to attract the next generation.
- The overall pool of farming,
it's continuing to age,and get older and older.
I think farming as a vocation
- [Heather] Adding to theurgency, the transfer of land.
Given the aging andretirement of current farmers,
40% of the nation'sagricultural real estate
will likely change handsin the next two decades.
So why turn to Salatin?
In the past 20 years,
he's grown a small family farminto a 20 person operation
serving 6,000 householdsand 50 restaurants.
He's also acquired aninternational reputation,
spread the word on his unique methods
through more than a dozen books.
His message, to succeedfarming must consider
the environment, the farmers' well-being,
and the bottom-line.
- It's profit that alsoappreciates the ecology
of the situation and thecommunity of the situation.
- [Heather] Salatin talks alot about healing the land
and proves it by farming
with no pesticides,fertilizers, or hormones.
He integrates his animals and land
to create an innovative cycle.
Cattle feed off diverse grasses,followed by broiler chicks
that use the shortened grassto ingest fresh sprouts.
The egg-mobile withfree-range hens comes next.
Hens dig through cow patties
searching for protein-rich larvae,
and their droppings fertilizethe fields all over again.
Salatin wants to spread thenews about his techniques
with books, training, and word of mouth.
- And so, it's all about empowering people
to start or do better withtheir farming enterprise.
- [Heather] Most ofthose who come to learn
are already committed toearth-friendly farming.
A sticking point though is howto make a living off of it.
Salatin's answer is hopealong with practical ideas.
Like his bandsaw mill.
It provides lumber for fencing and barns
that he could otherwise not afford.
In another lesson he talksabout animal behavior
and building in a way thatfacilitates easy movement,
saving time and energy.
Young farmers like John Caldwellsay Salatin inspires them
to pursue farming as acareer and not just a hobby.
- These guys are like, thisis how long it takes us,
this is how much you'regonna get out of it,
this is how you're gonna do this
to get the most profit out of it.
They're very business-oriented,
and that's somethingI'm not used to at all.
- It's not just farming.
You actually have to planthings and prepare for your year
and know what you're doing,and do a lot of research.
- I wanted to see an exampleof a working, diverse,
integrated, multi-generational farm.
That's what is mentioned in the books.
That's the vision thatI think people have,
and I wanted to really see it for myself
and see how it works,
and it absolutely does, and it's awesome.
- They do browse a little bit.
- [Heather] That's becauseSalatin includes his son
and grandchildren as part of the team.
If timing is everything,
Salatin believes farming that'sclean, green, and profitable
gives people a sense of pride,
which fits today's political climate.
More and more he sees bothliberals and conservatives
wanting to take control oftheir lives and make an impact.
- We see a kind of alibertarian undercurrent moving
and certainly Trump issymptomatic of that.
I think that what he represents
is the disempowermentand disenfranchisement.
What he represents is peasantspicking up pitchforks.
- Those pitchforks can be seen in the form
of homeschooling, alternative medicine,
and independent farmers whowant to do right by the land.
The farmers that Salatin istraining are already making
a difference in our foodsupply and could ultimately
change the way our country produces food.
Reporting in the ShenandoahValley, Heather Sells, CBN News.