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Field Notes

This post is just a REposting of several of our recent social media posts. If you follow us there you may have seen this content. If you don't follow us there you can catch up with this post!

What Color Is Broccoli?

A lot of people don't realize that broccoli plants often have a bluish tint. Just look at this un-doctored photo of rows of broccoli from our garden. What do you think?

We all just accept that vegetable leaves are green. But if you can “unhinge” your eyes from what you've been told, you sometimes see things in a new way – a way that is not quite the same as what you've been told. Especially when it comes to color and shape.

Just a friendly reminder to look carefully. Seeing things rightly takes work.

What Color Is Your Garden?

I'm often struck by the diversity in color when it comes to leaves in the garden. When I walk by a spot in the garden where several crops are all growing within the same 10 feet, I really notice it.

And while all that diversity is beautifully on display right next to each other in the garden, it is also reflects the important of ecological balance and abundance. Nature rarely fills spaces with just one thing. That's highly artificial.

It is also an extremely brittle system. Whenever you focus on one species, you run the risk of becoming more susceptible to harmful organisms. Any predator, disease, pest, or disaster that threatens to destroy that primary crop, threatens to wipe out the entire population.

Monoculture is, in essence, a system working against the farms natural ecological process. A diversified system doesn't have this weakness.

Huzzah for fields full of MANY different growing things!

Are You Willing To Pay The Price?

This is Daniel. Daniel is working hard in this picture -- just like real life. His back is bent. The sun is hot. He's working hard to repair a coop to keep our chickens safe.

Not just chickens, but baby chickens. Why would a tall, handsome, and educated young man stoop and sweat for baby chickens?

It's not because he loves chickens.

I ask you again -- why do you think he does it?

The fact is, that Americans eat an amazing amount of chicken. As of 2014, 8 billion chickens were consumed, which translates to nearly 22 million chickens per day.

For that to happen, all those chickens are being raised and cared for. Which means lots of people are out there caring for chickens ... so you can enjoy eating chicken.

Sadly, most of that work is done in terribly unhealthy and disgusting conditions for unbelievably low pay.

We don’t like to think about that stark reality. But it is important to consider – and then ask yourself -- if you are unwilling to do it, who's doing it for you?

When you purchase chicken, you are supporting (through a specific supply chain) the business policies and procedures – including how they raise and care for their chickens. And, to some extent, the living conditions of the chicken, and even the workers’ compensation.

And so I ask you again, who's doing the “dirty work” of raising your chickens – the nitty-gritty work you are unwilling to do? And (just as important) how do you thank them?

Tuesdays Are Teamwork Days

Harvest days are quite an undertaking around here. Gathering it all for distribution takes almost 30% of our time during the peak of the season.

Thankfully, we have a great crew on those mornings. In fact, the ATF harvest crew (with Daniel at the helm) is so capable that for the first time since we started farming, Joel and Megan were able to enjoy a week away during an entire harvest/delivery cycle!

That's huge.

Making sure everything went smoothly – from harvesting, to cleaning, to packing, and through the final delivery – we’ve always made sure to be there to help out. Every week of the season every year. And twice a week for most of those years. It was necessary. (We took breaks, just never more than a couple days and never over a harvest/delivery cycle).

But now ... we’ve built systems and procedures that make things go more smoothly. And most importantly, the crew is better! Not everything needs us all the time. So, we were able to step away for a much-needed rest.

And the best part was we were not even worried. There weren’t any problems (or if there were, they knew how to handle them without us).

To be honest, I (Joel) have been pushing it pretty hard this season, and I was beginning to hit a wall. So I'm super thankful I could step away with my family and get some rest right now. I couldn’t have done it without everyone who's here helping us! Thanks everybody!

The Chicken Effect

This video shows the amazing impact our broiler chickens have on pastureland. You can easily see where they have lived and naturally fertilized, versus the pasture that they haven’t.

I simply took the video while straddling the edge of where their pen had passed. I started the video looking where there is almost no grass in it, and then pan into where the chickens lived – and you can see that it is completely grass dominant.

We're bringing back the prairie baby!

Oh, and this pastureland restoration process is further enhanced when our beef cattle are rotated through the pasture. So if you want to be a part of this, buy our chicken and some beef (a half cow even!). Or share this post with someone who might be interested!

The 2021 ATF Crew

These lovely people work really hard. Often by themselves for long hours. Doing important and challenging work. Its taxing to their bodies, minds, and emotions.

And their work builds up the bodies, minds, and emotions of many, many other people.

They are servants.

I'm so proud of these people. And so, so, so thankful. And constantly humbled by their cheerful and willing hearts.

Raise a toast to them this week!

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