The land that hosts Laughing Earth has been in continuous agricultural production for at least 200 years. Just prior to our tenure here, it was Homestead Farms from 1993 until we bought the farm in 2016. During the Homestead Farms years, it took the general shape that it still has today, with a ~90-family summer CSA, pastured hens, broilers, pigs, and turkeys, and cut flowers. We have since increased the size of all of these ventures, at least modestly. In 2019 will have 115 member families in the summer CSA, plus a 20-member spring share and 30 or so families for our winter share, about 2,500 broilers, 150 turkeys, 25 summer pigs, and 250 laying hens. We work to grow healthy food for people across all income levels in our community in a restorative, practical, and sustainable way. Diversifying a farm operation offers many benefits; multiple products allow us to reach a broad range of customers or get more income from a single committed customer, diversification protects against disease or disaster, and carefully managing a livestock community can drastically improve marginal or neglected land. With multiple species of animals and plants to tend to, it’s also intensely interesting and constantly challenging.
Our visit will include an overview of the farm with a visit all of the animal groups and see how they rotate through the pastures, building fertility and working as a community to promote healthy pasture conditions and grow more and better grass – as well as better products. Take a close look at the systems and equipment that make diversified rotational grazing possible – fencing, water lines, egg mobiles, pasture pens – and discuss how different types of land call for different kinds of animal impact. We will follow the life of a Laughing Earth broiler from day-old chick all the way through our NYS certified 5A poultry slaughterhouse, and discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by controlling your own slaughter facilities.