We’ve been passing these dark winter months dreaming, planning and preparing for spring. The sun is returning now, and it won’t be long before we see green again outside our windows. Looking back on all we accomplished last year and the positive feedback we’ve received from all of you, we’re confident about our decision to increase our broiler chicken production. In 2019, we raised over 700 meat birds. Through the course of the season they pecked and scratched their way across 3.5 acres, fertilizing all the while. Now, in mid-February, we are down to fifty birds in the freezer, many of which are already spoken for. In 2020 we want to expand our reach. This year, Underline Farm chickens will find their way into several local restaurants and local co-op groceries. Where would you like to see them?
So many people rely on food transported across the country or from around the world. Often, these items come from unsustainable producers aiming to cut costs and corners without consideration for the environmental, social, and nutritional costs we end up paying. What a blessing it is to be in western Massachusetts, where there are so many farms and so many farmers striving to feed our community well! Of course it’s amazing how small the world has become, but we urge folks to make those food-mile-heavy goods more of a treat than a staple. Sometimes this takes a little planning ahead by purchasing bulk meat and produce in autumn when it’s plentiful. And yet we are also painfully aware of the socioeconomic spread that makes such planning and spending impossible for some families. Local, organic, ethically produced food can have a higher price tag because of how much more labor intensive the process is, along with the higher cost of certified organic grains. We believe in the work, and we have no doubt that our chicken, our pork, our grass fed beef, are all much better nourishment than conventionally produced meats. The pasture, sunshine, high quality feed, and low-stress natural lives we secure for our animals make it so.
We pride ourselves on the quality of our animals’ lives and the healthy nutrient-dense food we provide to the community. Yet there is always room for improvement. In our case, we need to reduce our feed costs while upholding our standards. This year Underline Farm is investing in bulk grain and feed storage. The intention is to better control the sourcing and freshness of our feed while paying less through purchasing in bulk. Our dream is to eventually source locally grown grains from farmers we know and trust, driving down our own footprint further. Here at Underline we utilize regenerative practices, looking to sequester carbon and go far beyond sustainable in our pasture management. Removing ourselves from commodity grain markets dovetails with our vision and intentions.
Lower costs: check.
Improved quality: check.
Good for you. Good for the community. Good for the planet. Check, check, check.
The major hurtle we now face is the up-front cost involved with expanding production and investing in feed storage. This month we’ll begin ordering chicks for the season—one hundred every week from late March into July. We have more tractors (movable, bottomless coops) to build for them and we will need to purchase our first order of bulk organic grain. We need your help to make this a reality. By ordering your chickens ahead of time not only do you save money, you also help us enter the season strong. We want our food to be as accessible as possible and are happy to work out a payment plan if you cannot afford to pay the lump sum. We also have a referral program—save more with each friend who signs up! Guarantee your own supply of pasture-raised, organic-fed chicken and help us make 2020 another successful year.
Karl and Anne
The cows grazing ahead of the broiler chickens last fall.