'Innovative' farmer offers Kiwis a new angle

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 08:11 28/01/2014
Joel Salatin
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FAMILY MAN: Joel Salatin was described by Time magazine as ''The most Innovative Farmer in the World'' and is holding a workshop in Auckland in February.

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A man described by Time magazine as "the world's most innovative farmer" will be speaking at a workshop in Auckland next month.

The day-long event will be run by Joel Salatin, from Virginia in the United States. Salatin runs Polyface Farms along with his son and daughters.

The business processes, distributes and markets its produce direct to families, retail outlets and restaurants.

Their 220-hectare home farm and 400ha of leased land produces beef, pork, poultry, eggs, rabbits and forestry products.

Salatin describes his farm on his website as a "diversified, grass-based, beyond organic, direct marketing farm".

"We don't do anything conventionally. We haven't bought a bag of chemical fertiliser in half a century, never planted a seed, own no plough or disk or silo - we call those bankruptcy tubes."

In 2010 he described his farming philosophy as: "Our motto is we respect and honour the pigness of the pig and the chickenness of the chicken. That means not confining them in a house with hundreds of others."

Workshop organiser Hawke's Bay farmer Greg Hart said the workshop would offer new perspectives on farm succession and would cover topics that would enable the next generation of farmers to consider the possibilities that careers in agriculture offered, including complementary marketing, farm enterprise planning and land access.

Hart is a strong supporter of Salatin's farming philosophies.

"Joel believes the future of the world's food supply has a stronger future being managed by family farming operations which are becoming more complex and need to be sustainable in the long term."

Farm succession is a hot topic in a number of Western countries around the world, including New Zealand.

"The average age of a New Zealand farmer is something like 55 or 57 and so a number are approaching retirement age.

''The way things are heading at the moment, more and more of these farmers will be selling to corporate farming businesses - many with a degree of overseas ownership - whose primary objective is optimising shareholder wealth," Hart said. This could mean long-term sustainability of the land or the community around that farm were not a primary concern.

Salatin had developed a number of models that addressed these issues with win-win results for both retiring farmers and young people wanting to make a career on the land, Hart said.

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The workshop will be held on February 23 at Auckland Grammar School and registrations can be made at: the familyfarm.co.nz.

- Waikato Times

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