Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunnyside Farms' Chicken Debuts at Mill Valley General Store

It does not get more local than this. Homer Walden & Dru Peters have created a biodynamic chicken farm, just 15 minutes north of the shop. Not one drop of petroleum goes into the operation of this unique chicken farm. We currently offer whole roasters, breast & legs. The following description of their operation is courtesy of The Urbanite.
" Since free range in fox country does not work, Walden designed & built mobile pens. Walden’s pens are eight feet by ten feet, with a partial roof to shade the chickens from sun and rain. The pens have no bottoms so the chicks can easily eat grass and bugs. Wheels are mounted on two sides so that Walden and Peters can move each pen to a fresh plot of grass as the chicks walk along. “They love grass,” says Walden, who also feeds them corn, soybeans, and kelp.

Walden designed and built this clever vehicle for his chickens and turkeys so they have a constant supply of fresh grass to eat while scratching their manure into the ground to naturally fertilize the land. (Walden estimates his chickens and turkeys drop thirty tons of manure on the field from April to November, resulting in luxuriant green patches of fertilized grass.) Compared to other portable pens, Walden’s chicken tractors are larger, more sleekly designed, and easier to move, but the most significant difference between Walden and other farmers who employ this method is that he moves his pens more often (twice daily) to prevent any bacteria or other pathogens from contaminating the birds.

“We think we’re a couple of steps above organic,” he says.

The result of Walden’s and Peters’ demanding work is a chicken that tastes unmistakably fresh. “You open a bag after it’s been frozen and it smells of fresh grass,” says Peters.

The “bigger picture” of their poultry experiment, they say, is to be environmentally sensitive and to “contribute to the overall health of consumers,” says Peters. Walden dreams of one day convincing Eastern Shore sod farmers to let him build larger versions of his “chicken tractors” on their sod farms, which would eliminate their need for chemical fertilizers.

“We don’t want to be land owners, we want to be land users,” Walden says. “We want to be good stewards.”

For the complete article go to www.urbanitebaltimore.com & enter Sunnyside Farms into the search option.