October 2, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

Joel Salatin, owner/founder of Polyface Farm, marked a special anniversary lately.  Read below to understand how special this anniversary is to him, and to the scores of people who keep Polyface Farm going year after year.  An amazing milestone-for Joel, for Polyface & for sustainable farming!

A note from Joel…

Sept. 24, 1982 marked my first day of full time farming. It was a Monday, just like today, and the Friday previous I had cleaned out my desk in the Staunton News Leader newsroom and waved goodbye to my fellow journalists. Everyone thought I was making a huge mistake. Farming? Anything but that.

Even farmers thought I was making a huge mistake. And then to know that I was not going to use chemicals. That I was going to pasture chickens and pigs. That I wasn’t going to build silos and plow the soil. How could anything be as ridiculous?

This morning I awakened to a farm festooned with balloons. I had mentioned the day and its 30-year importance in passing a couple of times during the summer, but frankly have been too covered up with responsibilities to plan any big celebration for myself. No worries. I’m surrounded by the most loyal, grateful, creative, dependable, conscientious team of young people you can imagine.

I’ve been crying all morning.

I think Eric and Brie led the plans. Overnight, they and accomplices decorated the farm with balloons, strategically placed to intercept my morning routine at every step. From the clothesline beside the backdoor to the equipment shed, balloons lined the path. The Massey Ferguson tractor they knew I would use to move the Eggmobile had balloons anchored to the wheels. As I approached the Eggmobile to hook it up, balloons cascaded off the front.

As is my routine, I went out to get the morning newspaper–once a news junkie, always a news junkie–and the farm entrance literally floated with balloons and our entrance sign had an explanatory addition in huge letters: Happy Anniversary Joel Full-time Farming 30 Years.

Tears welled up uncontrollably as the reality of the love and support of these young people overwhelmed me. To be this age, farming, surrounded by this kind of enthusiasm and honor–could it get any better than this? And then I had to chuckle: take that, friends, farmers, experts. All you folks that said I was throwing my life away, being foolish. Can you see me now? Ha!

I always check the cows in the morning. Yes, balloons on the 4-wheeler (my personal Japanese cow-pony). Streaming behind me, the balloons followed me up the three-quarter mile farm lane to the farm pasture. And as if that weren’t enough, all along that route, from the trees and bushes, balloons heralded the celebratory day. We’re here! We’ve made it this far! Touchdown! Hallelujah! Say it however you want to; scream it from the rooftops. We’re still here. And not only have a survived, we’ve thrived.

Tears streaming down my face, I topped the little knoll before coming to the cows and there, adorning every electric fence stake in the cross fence, were more balloons. The cows, mostly lying down on this 38 degree morning (we actually had the first patchy frost of the season), simply burped up another wad of grass cud to chew on. They looked at me completely ordinarily. Nothing much upsets their routine. Nothing is as placid as a placid cow.

With gratitude and a deep sense of blessing welling in my heart, tears streaming down my cold cheeks, I headed back to the house for breakfast, the newspaper, morning emails, and desk work. My spirit is overflowing today.
Teresa and I had a dream. We worked at it. We prayed over it. We babysat it. We lived and loved it. Today it shines like a burning bush, attracting people from all over the world to come and see. Thank you, Lord, for 30 wonderful years.

And lest you’re wondering, we don’t think we’ve hardly started yet. Now we’re not just a couple of people standing on the shoulders of our parents, but we’re a tribe, with the next generation and the next and a whole team of players plugging the gaps where we’re weak and leveraging our expertise where we’re strong. Look out, world. Here we come.

Thank you, family. Thank you, Polyface team, staff, interns. Thank you, patrons who have stood by us monetarily, supporting us with your smiles, your eating, and yes, your dollars. Polyface Farm is charitable, but not a charity. It is a business, but not only a business. So raise your glasses, folks. Here’s to another 30 years. Thank you.

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4944 Old Boonsboro Rd.
Lynchburg,VA 24503
434.384.3663

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Testimonials

Testimonials

The food is just incredible! I really mean it...I hope you know that I am not just saying this. It's so colorful, fresh, and delicious...so special every day!"

Faculty Member 

Just a note to say thank you for all of the delicious food you and your staff serve each day. I never knew kale could taste so good!

Administrator 

Outstanding food, outstanding service, outstanding people. I brag about MG to my peers at other schools, and even to my friends and family!

Administrator 

Thank you so much for all the gluten-free options this year! All of your staff have been so helpful. They make a point to come up to me at meals and let me know what options you have for that meal. Salads are great, but sometimes a warm meal is just what you need!

Faculty Member 

Thanks for all of the good work you and your team did to ensure that last night’s welcome gathering for new faculty went off without a hitch. I’m so grateful for Team MG working so hard to make sure things are done the right way.

Head of School 

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised by the excellent quality of the food. We could not recall having a better tuna dish, even at the four-star resturants we frequent in Raleigh. Duke Integrative is a special place.

Guest 

Many times I find a favorite thing out of the many items served during lunch, and although the featured spinach and fruit salad was visually stunning; the SHOUT OUT winner of the day hands down was the very delicious unassuming Vegetarian Pinto Beans!!! The onions were glistening and the peppers served as a complimentary color to the two different shades of beans...I have one regret and that is I didn’t think to take a picture!

Administrator 

Thank you for making pimento cheese today! It not only is divine, but also hit the spot. I now regret wasting 62.5 years of life on this planet in which I did not eat this heavenly mix. As I explore different recipes in my home kitchen I will try my best to live up to the standard demonstrated by what I had today.

Faculty Member 

Everything was wonderful...as usual! The food was scrumptious...and the weather was gorgeous!

Conference Client 

I would not change a thing! Your staff was not only professional, but warm and caring. They truly set the tone for a memorable night. The food was delicious...our family and friends left with hearts and bellies full!

Catering Client 

I just wanted to thank you so much for all the delicious food at Duke. Your food was such a happy and positive experience and it made the days there so much more enjoyable to eat healthy, but tasty, great food.

Client 

Thanks for the delicious soup and the new harvest salad - and thanks for removing half the calories out of the Farm Basket brownie...haha.

Resident 

THANK YOU for your help today with the open house! Our visiting families raved about the personalized environment. We had a student tell us that Guilford went from his 3rd to 1st choice!

Administrator 

Thank you for all of your hard work on the meals and breaks for the Alumnae Board. The food was outstanding; everyone raved about each meal. Favorites included the grits on Saturday morning and the butternut squash soup on Sunday. YUM!!!

Administrator 

The amazing characteristic is that, on a day by day basis, you give us nutritious, varied, interesting, delicious food...not just something special for company. Please know how much you are appreciated and loved by this community.

Conference Administrator