Jan. 20, 2014

By Minnie Payne

If you think you can’t farm in your backyard, growing vegetables in an efficient way, not relying on synthetic fertilizer or pesticides and not going into debt, Joel Salatin will prove you otherwise at Dallas County Community College District’s Clean Economy Series Jan. 28-30.

Salatin, 56, a third generation alternative farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and his family’s Polyface Farm feeds more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs.  

Salatin informs that bringing integrity into growing food requires an integrated approach to production, processing, packaging and preserving.

“Whether you use a container, patio or suburban lawn, you can participate in a way that sustains us,” he says. “If we continue to segregate the food system by assuming that we can’t grow our own food, we will continue to eat industrial nutrient-deficient stale food. Health care requires our investing in the food system, not simply being a casual observer, content with convenience.”

According to Ann Hatch, district director of media relations at DCCCD, because Salatin received a tremendously good reception at the 2013 DCCCD’s annual Sustainability Summit, he was asked to return in 2014.

“Joel is a popular/well-liked authoritative speaker,” says Hatch. “He was the keynote speaker at last year’s conference that focused on sustainability and was well received.”

The crux of the 2014 three-day event will be whether families in Texas and around the world be fed with local food.  

A free program will be presented on Tuesday, Jan. 28, from noon to 2 p.m., at Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, when Salatin will discuss “Securing Our Local Food Systems.” Healthy snacks will be served at 11:30 a.m. before the talk begins. Salatin will focus on his claim that farming in backyard gardens where a variety of things are growing is more efficient and productive than farming in massive fields.

Following the free presentation, Salatin will be the special guest for a Steward’s Dinner hosted by Urban Acres Market in Dallas from 7-9 p.m. Twelve celebrity chefs and local organic farms will contribute to the farm-to-table meal, which will raise scholarship money for the full-day workshop scheduled the next day when Salatin returns to Cedar Valley. The dinner is $90 per person.

The one-day workshop, held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cedar Valley College, will give audience members information and first-hand observations about Salatin’s efforts at Polyface Farms to produce more protein per acre than any other farm in the United States. Experienced farmers and others considering an agricultural career will greatly benefit from learning how farmers increase production without using pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation or multimillion-dollar pieces of equipment. In summation, Salatin will teach how to increase the fertility and production of the soil each year, which usually doesn’t happen with conventional agriculture. The cost for the one-day program is $99.  

Finally, on Thursday, Jan. 30, Salatin will attend a power breakfast hosted by Urban Acres with invited guests already involved in the farming industry. Public dignitaries will be present for a ribbon-cutting event to inaugurate their new venue.  

• Contact: For details about each program, email Iginia Boccalandro at [email protected] or call her at 469-554-9202.

Workshop: To sign up for the full-day program on Jan. 29, part of the Clean Economy Series, visit DCCCD.edu/CleanEconomySeries

Dinner: Visit the website for Urban Acres Market at UrbanAcresMarket.com/Stewards-Dinner to reserve a seat for the farm-to-market dinner.

Breakfast: Those interested in the power breakfast hosted by Urban Acres should visit CleanEconomySeries.com or contact Boccalandro.

Minnie Payne is a Carrolton-based freelance writer. She’s written for Pegasus News, Frisco Style Magazine and Seedstock. She presently freelances for Living Magazine, The Senior Voice and Your Speakeasy. She can be reached at [email protected].

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