Joel Salatin’s Barbell of Food Production

Photo from Polyface Farms' Facebook Page

Photo from Polyface Farms’ Facebook Page

Joel Salatin’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal covers just about every topic you could imagine. There is commentary and solutions laid out for many problems facing society. The best chapter of the book is “Lawn Farms and Kitchen Chickens”, where he presents an idea I will call Salatin’s Barbell.

“If we take the production results of normalized by John Jeavons, biointensive garden guru, we could grow all the produce for America in just the lawns and horse paddocks without needing any farmland. Farms could then concentrate on more nutrient-dense things like cheese, meat, and poultry that aren’t mostly water and therefore can be shipped more efficiently.” page 82, Folks, This Ain’t Normal

Salatin claims America has 35 million acres of lawn and 36 million acres of paddock for recreational horses.

John Jeavons: “”It takes about 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of land to feed one person the average U.S. diet, I’ve figured out how to get it down to 4,000 square feet. How? I focus on growing soil, not crops.”

The math: 71 million acres of lawn and horse paddock = 3,092,760,000,000 SF

3,092,760,000,000 / 4000 = 773,190,000 people. That’s more than double the amount of people in the Unites States fed, without any farmland. Requiring minimal fossil fuels for transportation because of its close proximity to people.  Since meat is delicious and necessary for optimal health, all of our farmland could be used for grass based farming, which sequesters carbon and builds topsoil at the same time.

Chickens to reduce landfill waste. “Pat Foreman tells about a town in Belgium that offered three chickens to any household that wanted them. Two thousand families signed up for the birds. Those six thousand hens, in the first month of the program, dropped compostable biomass to the landfill by one hundred tons. This was the ultimate recycling program.” page 79, Folks, This Ain’t Normal

100 tons of biomass in one month. Simple solution, he didn’t mention the other benefit. Those hens turned that compostable biomass into fresh eggs and manure for home gardens.

Think of all the fresh produce this system would have. I dream of a neighborhood with abundant fruit trees, gardens, and chickens. Fossil fuels use for transportation would be reduced dramatically and health would improve from the increased consumption of living fruits and vegetables and pastured meats.

The solution is simple: grow and preserve your own vegetables, plant fruit trees, and buy pastured meat.

John Jeavons Quote:

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