What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative refers to a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. Regenerative agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and above-ground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation. At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for the community.
Green Earth Poultry raises animals using methods that draw carbon out of the atmosphere and deposit it back into the soil where it belongs.
We rotate a variety of animals on pasture; instead of having a monocrop of poultry, we use goats and sheep to mow the grass ahead of the chickens so that they can eat the tender regrowth rather than the tough and fibrous stalks that would otherwise be present. This reduces our reliance on petroleum powered equipment and provides a wider range of meat for sale.
We create more diverse ecosystems by planting fruit and nut trees and bushes along with native and wild edible greens that contribute to the diet of our community members as well as the livestock.
We utilize several different parcels of land owned by other people, enabling us to achieve a cost-effective scale without overwhelming the land or sacrificing the quality achieved by our small-scale farmers. This approach also improves a wider area of land and empowers our community to make a positive impact on the climate.
Big River Chestnuts is a prime example of our system in practice. BRC is a 7 acre food forest and chestnut orchard in Sunderland, MA owned by Jono Neiger of Regenerative Design Group. There we have integrated poultry production as part of a SARE funded research project to study the effects of agroforestry and rotational grazing on soil health.
Big River Chestnuts Virtual Field Day
Upon arrival to our farm, the chicks are brooded in modified greenhouse structures with plenty of room and warmth. Once they are feathered out, we move them to fenced paddocks on pasture. The movable perimeter fence allows them to truly free-range while being protected from land-based predators. They also have full access to open-sided shelters to seek protection from the sun, rain, and nighttime temperature. Their shelters are moved to fresh ground each day so that they are never left sitting on their manure overnight. The paddocks are moved every few days so that the always have access to fresh forage and bugs.
We handle our chickens with the knowledge that their lives will one day be taken to provide for our own, and that in the meantime they are providing us a great service by fertilizing our soils and providing pest management for our perennial plants. With that in mind, we honor our birds and offer them our gratitude, respect and love because that is what any creature that is going to provide for another deserves. We offer that from the moment they arrive to our farm to the moment they leave.
Local, Non-GMO Feed
Our chickens cannot survive on forage alone, so we source Non-GMO feed from Stone House Grain . They grow grains using regenerative farming practices in Hudson, NY.
We have plans to offer organic and soy-free options in the future. Please contact us if you are interested!
On-farm slaughter is less stressful for the chickens because they do not have to endure transportation to an unfamiliar location. Unfortunately, our level of production makes it difficult to process on-site, but we have partnered with small-scale processors nearby. We are also in the process of establishing a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit to achieve our vision.
Our passion for producing healthy, local food in partnership with our animals and the environment is rooted in our shared values:
- Consistently producing high-quality, healthful, nutrient-dense meat.
- Outstanding animal welfare
- Gratitude and respect for the land and the animals
- Seeking to work with nature and improve the health of our land on which we live and work
- Transparency and authenticity
- Equality in the workplace and community
- Stable living wage
- Farming cooperatively
- Working with indigenous tribes to care for the land
- Ensuring our operations have a positive impact on our community and our environment
- Continuous education and improvement
Green Earth Poultry began as Homestead Habitats in 2019, founded by Martin Anderton, a pastured organic poultry farmer of 13 years. Martin began his poultry journey on the Delmarva Peninsula of the Chesapeake Bay, which at the time was responsible for producing 15% of the conventional chicken meat consumed in the U.S. Martin spent many years helping to gather chickens in the massive warehouses (containing tens of thousands of chickens at a time) for shipping to slaughter. After moving to Granby, MA and working at Red Fire Farm, he learned about alternative ways of raising chicken outdoors on pasture. In 2008 he co-founded Stony Brook Farm, a pastured chicken meat and egg farm that primarily grazed chickens on Red Fire Farms fallow fields and surrounding untillable pastures and forests. After his first son Jack was born in 2012, Martin took his family to Colorado and began a journey that led him and his family to farms and homesteads from Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, and ultimately back to Massachusetts.
Martin created Homestead Habitats in 2019 as an urban livestock consultation service. That same year, he was invited to raise chickens at Big River Chestnuts (BRC), an edible food forest and chestnut orchard owned by Jono Neiger, as part of a research project to study the effect of rotational grazing and agroforestry on soil health. Martin successfully raised and sold 300 chickens on pasture the first year. Sales and enthusiasm from the community led to Homestead Habitats raising and selling 1,800 chickens at BRC in 2020.
In 2021, after the 25 member meat CSA sold out in 3 weeks and positive results of the soil research study were received, Martin decided to expand the mission of regenerating soils and producing healthy chickens to a scale that would feed more members of the community. In 2021, Val Finkel and Graham Skorupa, friends and fellow farmers, joined Martin to form the collaborative that is Green Earth Poultry.