Increasing numbers of farmers are recognizing that small-scale regenerative livestock farming is better for the environment and better for the bottom line. Big ag often claims that industrial farming is necessary to “feed the world”, but the UN reports that small-scale farming provides food for over 70 percent of the world’s population. We don’t need factory farms to do this in the U.S., either. In fact, regenerative farming is unfolding here in Jefferson County and already taking place in other parts of Iowa and the U.S.
JFAN’s 2018 Annual Meeting, “There ARE Alternatives to Factory Farms,” on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, looks at the exciting world of regenerative livestock production as a viable and necessary alternative to factory farms. Keynote speaker Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Chief Strategy Officer with the Main Street Project, will share how an innovative regenerative farm he designed using permaculture principles takes a holistic approach to livestock production with economic, ecological, and social benefits. The meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
Joining Marroquin for an extended panel discussion on opportunities in alternative livestock production will be Kris Johnson, Farm Manager for Maharishi University of Management’s Regenerative Agriculture Program; Dean Goodale, founder of New Legacy Pork, and Chris Petersen, a lifelong traditional hog producer from Clear Lake, Iowa.
Marroquin, a native Guatemalan, is the principal architect of the revolutionary poultry system developed by Main Street Project that raises chickens in well-managed paddocks and provides rotational grazing under a perennial canopy of hazel nut trees. The trees provide protection and food, and the chickens, in turn, fertilize the trees and build the soil.
Marroquin says this system “brings back an ancient knowledge of wisdom and techniques that farmers had survived on for a long time. What we are doing is restructuring those techniques so that we can meet current demand.” He oversees the implementation of restorative blueprints for communities in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, and was recently admitted as a lifetime Ashoka Fellow in recognition of his work.
The benefits of Marroquin’s system were not lost on the Regenerative Agriculture program at Maharishi University of Management (MUM). With plans to add eggs to its vegetarian meal program, MUM is currently adopting this innovative poultry system under Kris Johnson’s supervision based on Marroquin’s model, the first of its kind in Iowa.
During the panel discussion, Johnson will talk about the development of the poultry farm that will also serve as a model for other local farmers in Jefferson County. Johnson, who grew up on a farm six miles outside of Fairfield, was hired as the Farm Manager for MUM’s Regenerative Agriculture program two years ago. He previously managed Fairfield’s Farm to School Greenhouse and served as an Assistant Manager for the Meskwaki Nation’s vegetable farm, Red Earth Gardens, in Tama, Iowa.
Dean Goodale will speak about his new company, New Legacy Pork, founded to provide farmers in southeast Iowa with an opportunity to raise hogs in an ecological, profitable, and humane manner. New Legacy Pork connects traditional, sustainable hog farmers with national markets and is generating an enthusiastic response from area farmers. It also caught the eye of Daymon International, securing a contract with this major food distributor that allows placement in all leading national supermarket chains. Goodale previously launched and managed Maharishi Vedic Organic Farms for a 10-year period, supplying local, organic produce to over 200 CSA members throughout the region and to retailers Whole Foods, HyVee, and others.
Rounding out the panel is Chris Petersen, a lifelong independent family farmer who raises Berkshire hogs using traditional animal husbandry practices in Clear Lake, Iowa, and grows row crops to feed his livestock. With grit and determination, he and his family weathered and survived the 1980s farm crisis that hastened the decline of independent pig farming and fostered the surge of factory farms. Petersen is a national advocate for traditional independent livestock farming, and an Iowa Consultant with the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project supporting communities opposing factory farms. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Organization for Competitive Markets that represents family farmers fighting the takeover of the food system by large multinational and foreign corporations.
Fairfield’s Radiance Dairy co-owner and JFAN board member Francis Thicke will moderate the panel discussion, which will include an opportunity for audience participation.
The JFAN Annual Meeting is Co-sponsored by community partners Southeast Iowa Sierra Club, Sustainable Living Coalition, and Little Village Magazine.
There ARE Alternatives to Factory Farms will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, 200 N. Main Street, in Fairfield. Admission is free, although a donation of $5 is welcome to support JFAN’s mission.
JFAN is a 501(c)(3) educational foundation working to protect the quality of life of Jefferson County residents since 2005. Our efforts successfully help to deter the proliferation of CAFOs in Jefferson County.
Visit JFAN at JFANIowa.org or Facebook.com/JFANIowa.