Joel Salatin, 57, is a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A third generation alternative farmer, he returned to the farm full-time in 1982 and continued refining and adding to his parents’ ideas.
The farm services more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products using relationship marketing.
He holds a BA degree in English and writes extensively in magazines such as Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres U.S.A., and Foodshed.
The family’s farm, Polyface Inc. (“The Farm of Many Faces”) has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Gourmet and countless other radio, television and print media. Profiled on the Lives of the 21st Century series with Peter Jennings on ABC World News, his after-broadcast chat room fielded more hits than any other segment to date. It achieved iconic status as the grass farm featured in the New York Times bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma by food writer guru Michael Pollan and the award-winning film documentary Food, Inc.
A sought-after conference speaker, he addresses a wide range of issues, from “creating the farm your children will want” to “making a white collar salary from a pleasant life in the country.” A wordsmith, he describes his occupation as “mob-stocking hervbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” His humorous and conviction-based speeches are akin to theatrical performances, often receiving standing ovations.
He has authored nine books, five of them how-to types. His speaking and writing reflect dirt-under-the-fingernails experience punctuated with mischievous humor. He passionately defends small farms, local food systems, and the right to opt out of the conventional food paradigm. Four generations of his family currently live and work on the farm.