So what does a resilient, sustainable food production system look like? Our working model includes more than 14 symbiotically connected agricultural enterprises. Natural, free-range poultry is at the heart of the system because of its benefits to the ecology (think manure instead of chemical fertilizers), the short life cycle of poultry, the familiarity to many immigrant families, and the potential for vertical integration.
And because year-round production and income is critical, specially designed poultry buildings mimic free-range conditions in cold-weather months with a large indoor solarium that rarely requires additional heat.
Finally, the system is accessible for beginning farmers, and designed to scale up in a way that increases market and income potential over time:
• Farmers can raise three to four flocks a year on a one-half acre production unit.
• Eight production units can be combined to form a four-acre farm or economic unit that can support a family.
• Ten farms form an economic cluster that can support community-based enterprises like processing, feed, transportation and manure management.