Joel Salatin’s keynote speech at the Food Film Festival is part of a three-day visit to the Netherlands, during which he will also participate in the debate series It’s the food, my friend and give a masterclass in agriculture and entrepreneurship.
He is the most innovative farmer in the world according to TIME magazine, plays an important role in the documentary Food Inc. (2008) and is a source of inspiration for influential journalists such as Michael Pollan. American Joel Salatin is the keynote speaker at this year’s Food Film Festival.
A farmer on tour might seem rather unusual, but Salatin is no ordinary farmer. He has a mission. The American believes that a healthy environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive: you can run a profitable farming business without sacrificing the land. Contrary to what you might think, Salatin is not a small-scale, organic farmer. His farm, Polyface Inc. in Virginia, has more than ten employees and a turnover of two million dollars per year.
A different salad bar each day
Salatin calls himself a ‘grass farmer’, because everything on his land revolves around keeping the grass in top condition. Every day he moves his mobile chicken coop to the pasture grazed by his cows a few days earlier. The 500 chickens feed on the larvae and worms in the cowpats, convert these into protein and in turn fertilise the grass with their mineral-rich faeces. By this time the cows are feasting at another ‘salad bar’, as Salatin calls his grassland. In this way, every animal, from pig to rabbit and from cow to hen, contributes to the agro-ecosystem of Salatin’s farm, without the need for artificial fertilisers.
During his keynote speech at the Food Film Festival, Salatin will talk about his holistic approach to farming. The American is not calling for small-scale, organic farming but rather a way of thinking about agriculture and the food system that goes ‘beyond organic’. His ideas are attracting a growing following, both among farmers and non-farmers who understand the entrepreneurial value and necessity of his approach. His farm attracts thousands of fans every year, earning him the title ‘rock star of the agricultural world’. Although you don’t (yet) have to queue for hours to see this rock star.