If you are interested in knowing a lot more about your food and where it comes from, then you will want to take a trip to Poly Face Farms. Their website states that Polyface, Inc. is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Yesterday, Trey Ward (Chef/Director at Chatham Hall) and I had the opportunity to tour the farm with a group of students from Chatham Hall.

When I first arrived I immediately stepped onto a stone with this message: “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth” – Thomas Jefferson.
Upon reading it I thought…how nice.

As we started the tour I knew it was going to be much more than seeing barns, pastures, chicken yards. This truly was a non-industrial farm where we could see nature take its course in many ways. I am not a writer and can’t do justice here, but I will summarize highlights of what I saw, learned and felt:

  • A regular farm – nothing fancy. But, it was clean. A clean farm? I compare it to our clean kitchens – clean dirt is productive recent dirt and cleaned up on a regular basis. Dirty dirt is build up and not good! This farm and the animals had clean dirt. Even the pigs felt like clean dirt!
  • 1200 one-week old baby chicks maturing until they join thousands more 2 – 8 week old chickens in “pastured broilers”. These birds like getting fresh air, sunshine, bugs and fresh greens. Moved daily from floorless field shelters to fresh pasture paddocks, broilers ingest copious amounts of green material, key to their nutrition.
  • The people/farmers at Poly Face seek to understand the animals and how they operate as well as provide them with the most natural environment in which to mature and develop
  • Diversity shows us nature is stable – different grasses yield different nutrients
  • There is science to the process – graze animals at the peak of the grass cycle so we have stronger/healthier cows
  • As with most things, balance is of utmost importance – rotation of grazing, number of animals put together in a herd and the amount of time a grazed field needs to rest
  • Cows release 50 lbs of manure every day. If handled properly, there is no “drain off concern”. Those 50 lbs (times 90 head of cow) can be used as a source of nutrients in other areas.
  • Maximization of space and utilization of resources – every area and aspect of the farm is “working”.
  • The animals work for the farm in their natural state – pigs are placed in “pigerators” to aerate compost cultivating future pastures.
  • Education – the whole tour is packed with information that is interesting, well presented and worth retaining.
  • Full utilization of nature’s cycles – birds and cows are “moved” daily to maximize what nature produces the best – vitamins and minerals. 
  • Science/Biology are used to assess and continually improve the environment and recognize the optimal conditions for all the animals – cows at Poly Face feed on hay for an average of 40 days during the winter. The average for “other” cows is 120 days.

Everything about the tour and the farm showed ultimate respect and care for the animals and land. It is what Thomas Jefferson said and was on the stone that I walked over when I got there – “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth”. After the tour, I felt much more than just “how nice” — I felt what that actually meant.

It was truly a pleasure to experience this with Trey – a fabulous Chef who appreciates food, sustainability, nature, and the full cycle. My only regret – that all of my friends and MG family were not with us!

Poly Face Farms offers tours regularly – plan a trip!

Contact Us

4944 Old Boonsboro Rd.
Lynchburg,VA 24503

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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!


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


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.


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!


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.


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


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!


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!!!


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