Joel Salatin's Event July 30, 2010

Story by Maria Droujkova.

I first learned about Joel Salatin and the Polyface Farm from "The Omnivore's Dilemma." The part about watching the grass grow was especially impressive. Joel explains how the growth of the green parts attempts to match (with species-defined ratios) the size of the root system. After cows leave a pasture, the grass grows slowly at first, then very fast, and then slows down and becomes woody and poorer in nutrients. The next wave of cows has to come in at the peak of the growth to maximize both nutrients in the grass, and its next growth spurt.

Joel was giving a talk at the opening of an innovative program, called Natural Chef Culinary Arts, at the Central Carolina Community College. We started with a tour of the student farm, which is a pretty interesting place, with crop rotations, chickens, and even an outdoor oven for cooking with the produce! Here is a student relaxing in one of several pleasant nooks at the farm:

During a farm tour break, I asked Joel to look at a graph of the S-shaped grass growth curve that I made, with some quotes about Polyface, asking to for an autograph for our Math Club. Gradually, the period of the grass-growing function should decrease, as the pasture becomes healthier and more efficient. Joel contributed more than a signature: he made a graph to scale, with real units representing a pasture from the farm! His graph is in blue:
Joel working on his (auto)graph:

The presentation attracted hundreds of people, with some sitting on the floor, and others viewing broadcasts in overflow rooms and outside of the building. Joel is a very inspirational speaker! I won't attempt to describe what he does. Read his books and attend the meetings. Here is a picture of the standing ovation by the audience members young and old, though. The excellent dinner before the presentation, cooked by teacher chefs of the new program, and the flowers come from the student farm:
There was also a long line of people who wanted to talk to Joel personally. Here is Katherine discussing apprenticeship possibilities with Joel:
Several of Math Club kids are very interested in organic farming and cooking. What a great math connection! Thank you, Joel!

Out and about on the student farm...