Main Street Project



  • The Main Street Project model is made up of more than fourteen symbiotically connected agricultural enterprises – including perennial crops, grains, vegetables, and value-added products. Natural, free-range poultry is at the heart of the system because of its benefits to the land (think manure instead of chemical fertilizers), because poultry has a short turnaround or life cycle, and because it’s culturally familiar to many immigrant families.
    • The system provides opportunity for beginning farmers and established small and mid-sized farmers to thrive by tapping into growing market demand for economically, socially and ecologically sustainable food. The system is designed to scale up in a way that increases market share and revenue potential over time.
    • A diversified and symbiotic approach to farming is the only way farming can be broadly sustainable. The model we have developed incorporates solar heating (for energy efficiency), perennials for animal feed and crop revenue, vegetable production, grain production, and aquaponics (for increase productivity and chemical energy efficiency). Each component relies on the other, creating a multiplying circle of benefits where up to six marketable outputs (poultry meat, eggs, nuts, fish, vegetables, and fruits) are produced in a way that can be aggregated farm after farm to build regional competitiveness and larger scale impacts on the ecology, economy and social cohesiveness.

    11th Hour

    • Our system plan integrates the entire food chain, but it starts with the farm. As the farm starts with the farmer. Immigrant Latino workers are our pilot farmers, and they will remain in a leading role as production grows. With their agricultural experience, a common familiarity with raising poultry, and their desire for an entryway into the economic structure of the country, these workers have an ideal base from which to start an incubator farm.
    • For example, our buildings use the sun to allow us to raise poultry year-round in Minnesota. Livestock also need shade, and hazelnut trees provide an ecologically appropriate source of that shade. But the trees also provide hazelnuts, a cash crop that can supplement farm revenue at no extra cost to the farm. While farming only hazelnuts presents challenges (e.g., establishment costs and 4-5 year wait period to first production), when farmed as part of our integrated system, hazelnuts add to system revenue while saving on weed control and fertilization. Livestock also provide an important source of fertilizer that is used to grow vegetables and grains for commercial and feed uses. And the chicken parts that remain after processing can be utilized for feed for other animals such as fish.


    • Successfully launching 50 free-range poultry production units over the next three years based on Main Street’s innovative model. Our research and planning over the past year has concluded that at this level of production, the sustainable farming enterprise system can begin to emerge through a sufficient scale of poultry production to support profitable operation of related farm enterprises and critical support infrastructure (e.g. cost-effective poultry processing, market development and distribution.)