In the past few years, hit books and movies like Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me helped make us more conscious of how our food is produced. That's a good thing, but these days, you can barely eat an apple without worrying that it was grown in a way that polluted the water, tortured an animal, and is going to give you cancer.
Small, local farmers won't take down Big Agriculture in a day, but hey, they can start chipping away at it. Earlier this week, we introduced Jason McCobb of Farmer Jay's Pure Organics. Today, meet his chickens -- and his pig.
Using an idea popularized by writer Michael Pollan when he described Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms in Virginia in the book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Farmer Jay's has built a moving chicken coop. McCobb has evolved the concept even further: by adding a pig to the equation. Sounds strange, but hey -- it works.
First, Jay sections off an area of his land with poultry netting to create a pen. Then he rolls in his chicken-coop-on-wheels and its 50 chickens, and brings in Pearl the Pig . The animals can roam in and out of the chicken coop. Their natural actions help to prep and fertilize the patch of land. Every few weeks, Jay pulls up the fence and scoots it over to section off a new patch of land. Voila! -- the recently evacuated patch is fertile and ready for planting.
"This is a unique model, that frankly we need to be documenting and letting people know about," Jay says, "because a pig with chickens is unheard of. Usually, pigs will eat the chickens. Since, I've had her since she was a baby it has been working out great."