March 14, 2021
We are always looking for ways to improve on May Hill Farm. Herd comfort and inputs (bedding, feed, hay, minerals, seed for pasture, etc.) are two things we continually strive to excel at. This winter one small way we have done this is by working with the local grocery store to pick up produce they can no longer sell. We pick up on Monday afternoons, so we get all the items that were left over the from the weekend. This usually ends up being a cart stacked full of boxes of fruits and veggies.
We load up the back of the minivan, bring it all home, unpackage, and sort it. There are certain things each group of animals can have or like more than other things. For example, the pigs absolutely love apples, but should not have potatoes. The steers can have citrus (oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons), but the chickens and pigs cannot. The chickens LOVE watermelon and blueberries but won’t eat carrots. So, each Monday afternoon the kids help me unpackage and sort out boxes and boxes of produce. Then we take it down to the barn and feed it out over the next couple days.
This past week when the kids were opening salad bags our 6-year-old commented on how much food it was. Joe agreed with him that there is a lot of food waste in our current food system. He explained to the kids that there are people in the world who go hungry, but we have food being thrown out at our stores. Granted our local store does work with farmers and composts the rest, but it is still food that never makes it to humans for consumption. And we only pick up once a week from one small grocery store. It is hard to fathom how much food does get wasted or thrown out in our country daily.
We strive to be good stewards of the land and take good care of our animals. If we have an opportunity to reuse or repurpose something on the farm we do.
Our free-range chickens are great at cleaning up grain that the steers push out of the feeders. This summer we are hoping to pasture our meat chickens closely behind our pastured steers as they will help work the land and incorporate the natural fertilizer while consuming some nutrients left in the pasture after the steers go through. We are always looking for opportunities to improve.
So, overhearing this conversation that our 6-year-old brought up has really got me thinking about how our food system works (or doesn’t) and what I can do to impact that. Right now our impact is diverting one cartload of produce a week from the compost dumpster…hopefully a year from now our impact will be even greater!