Farm symbiosis

Joel Salatin’s farm is called Polyface Farm.

Polyface Farm

The reason for the name is that his farm embraces the old, homestead-style model of raising many different animals on one farm and taking advantage of the beneficial relationships they offer one another. But he’s found a way to do it on a large scale. It’s brilliant.

We’re just doing it on a small scale, and we’re still learning as we go, but we’ve discovered some really amazing benefits to our method thus far.

1) Our pig eats all the food scraps we create. I mean, all of them… well, except citrus peels. But he basically eats everything else. And if we get to the point that we have a surplus of whey or soured milk… he’ll happily eat that, too!

2) Our cow and goats eat our weeds. When we pull weeds from the garden (and there are so, so many right now), they go straight to Gerty. And because our pasture is still in the strengthening process (the grass is thin… but it’s steadily getting thicker), we’re trying to keep her off of it for a little while. So hay, plus weeds (I’m serious, there are a LOT of weeds…), plus the grass in the smaller yard where we have her gives her plenty of nutrition for milk, which goes to her calf and to us!

3) Our chickens pick through our cow’s manure. In the manure are little bits of undigested grain as well as all the bugs that love to burrow into a fresh pattie. And that means dinner for chickens! They get to WORK on those cow pies, scratching and pecking through them, which means that manure gets distributed quickly, allowing it to decompose and give more life to the soil more quickly. And then, of course, we eat the chickens’ eggs (yeah, it sounds gross within this context, but it’s not)!


4) And the chicken and cow manure occasionally get shoveled into our compost pile and then moved onto the garden. And we eat the produce from the garden.

There are even more elements that will make their way into this permaculture-style life cycle, such as rotten fruits that drop off our fruit trees (we’ve had some false starts with fruit trees… next year we’ll be investing a bit more into them) and feed the chickens, pig, cow, and soil.

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