Robin Hoy, Part time chicken farmer, Wrightstown, Bucks County
About five years ago, my husband Mike and I started raising chickens for our own consumption. We’ve since expanded because we wanted to have more pastured, organically grown hens’ eggs available at the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance’s farmer’s market that we manage in Wrightstown.
We wanted to give other people the chance to experience the difference between today’s industrial eggs and eggs from hens roaming in the sun, grass, and weeds, scratching in the dirt and doing what hens are meant to do. At Kaleidoscope Farm we have about 130 chickens of varying breeds. Their egg colors range from green, white, to cream, brown, and blue. Pastured eggs, like those we produce here at Kaleidoscope Farm, average eight times the beta carotenes, three times the Omega-3 fatty acids and double the fat soluble vitamins of eggs produced indoors. Even “cage free hens” are rarely, if ever, outdoors. And people can see and taste the difference in the eggs!
As Executive Director of the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance, I also work with other farmers, consumers, educators, and restaurateurs who come together to promote, grow and harvest local sustainable food.
http://buckscountyfoodshedalliance.org/. The Foodshed Alliance sponsors and operates the Wrightstown Farmers’ Market to help provide more outlets for local farmers growing for local consumption. In addition to more than 25 vendors offering everything from pastured meats and organic vegetables to pesticide-free flowers and handmade soaps, the market also features live music every Saturday and frequently hosts chefs’ demonstrations, heirloom veggie tastings, and family fun.
One of the new ways of supporting local farms that the Foodshed Alliance helps promote is community supported agriculture (CSA). CSA is an alternative for consumers in which people purchase shares of a farmer’s bounty before the season begins and then throughout the 6 month growing season pick up their weekly share of the farm products, usually enough for a family of four. In addition to ten or twelve items the farmer will have picked for you, there is usually u-pick such as strawberries, beans, and flowers. Many people love the CSA model for the friendships that develop out in the fields and at the monthly potlucks and for the delicious, fresh, organically grown produce—food you can trust, “with the farmer’s face on it.”
There is a growing demand in Bucks for fresh, local, organically grown produce and meat, eggs and cheeses from animals grown with room to roam, in fresh air, sunlight and green pastures. Farmers markets are expanding in Bucks County. In 2006, there were two farmer’s markets with local produce; this year there are six. You can find out about them all on the Foodshed Alliance’s website. Local farm stands are beginning to expand as well and need our support.
Increasingly, people are aware that produce that travels 1500 miles to reach their grocery store is neither fresh nor good for the environment nor for their family’s health. They want truly fresh, pesticide and hormone-free, tasty food, which can only be found locally. We believe the time has come for us to again appreciate locally grown food and farmers, get to know our local farmers, learn where our food comes from and how it’s grown, and buy local!