NEW PALESTINE – Joel Salatin considers himself a simple pilgrim, one who likes to share the Bible’s messages.
God’s teachings can be applied to every aspect of life — including how we grow our food and sustain the earth, Salatin told a group of crowd of several hundred that gathered Saturday at New Palestine High School.
Salatin, of Virginia, is the owner of Polyface Farms, a non-industrial all-organic farm, and the author of many farming and Christian-based philosophical books.
Salatin’s organic/sustainable farming methods — which include pasture-raised livestock, a focus on soil regeneration and chemical-free harvests — have been featured in two documentaries, Food Inc., and Fresh, as well as the critically acclaimed book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
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At speaking engagements across the country, he enjoys helping people rethink how they operate their farms — and daily lives — by suggesting they get off the fast track and back to serving God, he told those gathered Saturday.
The Rev. Ethan Maple, pastor at The Movie Theater Church, recently received the Pastor Renewal Grant through the Lily Endowment and helped coordinate Salatin’s visit.
His grant application centered on Salatin’s views on creation, Maple said. Maple had seen Salatin speak and read one of his books, “The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs,” and was inspired by the farmer’s simplistic approach to farming.
Maple said even those who are not farmers can learn from Salatin’s views on how to be one with God and nature, to slow down and take stock of what’s important.
Salatin’s family mission is to develop agricultural practices more closely tied to nature — from the way farmers plant to the way they feed and distribute their livestock — and to help others start similar operations all over the world, according to his website, polyfacefarms.com.
At Polyface, they don’t ship their food, focus on the importance of local farming and maintain what Salatin says is a relatively small customer base: about 5,000 families, 50 restaurants and 10 retail outlets.
Referring to himself as a Christian, libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist and even a “lunatic farmer,” Salatin is known around the world for his regenerative approach to farming, emphasizing constant rebuilding of the soil through natural methods.
He’s in favor of small farms, local food systems and the right for farmers to opt out of the more conventional big market food programs.
From a farming perspective, he’d like to see local farmers get involved in local food systems using more natural, holistic methods, then selling directly to local shops and restaurants.
Salatin’s biggest thrill, touring the country speaking with farmers and everyday people, comes several months down the road after a lecture, he said. That’s when people will drop him a card, give him a call or send an email thanking him for asking them to stop and think about they way they are living and running their businesses.
Getting people to stop and reflect is something he considers one of his biggest successes.
“Everything is so full, so frenetic now days, we don’t even have time to think,” Salatin said.