I'm currently doing seminars in Woodend, Victoria, Australia at Ben Falloon's farm, Taranaki. This is my fourth visit to Taranaki in 9 years and it's been wonderful to watch the progress.
Tuesday and Wednesday I did the first two-day seminar, modeled after our Polyface Intensive Discovery seminars, and now I'm doing the second two-day seminar. Lots of back-to-back instruction. Both sold out (32 people apiece) and are attended by very eager folks; a true delight and of course I enjoy listening to all the Aussie accents.
This is a 400-acre farm and probably overall the closest to a Polyface in Australia. This is my 15th trip down under so I've enjoyed making many friends and seeing much of the country.
Ben is coordinating these seminars with the launch of his on-farm inspected poultry processing facility. It's constructed of two small shipping containers in an L shape. He hasn't fully gotten his license yet, but it's close and I enjoyed processing 8 chickens in there yesterday. He crowdfunded it and has 850 people who put in $100 apiece to make it happen. I'll be meeting with a lot of them on Saturday.
The bottleneck of processing is still the number one inhibitor of local integrity food, the same as it is in the U.S. He's hoping that this will serve as a demonstration template to encourage and enable many other small pastured operations to install their own facility. Most people have hours of transport to take their chickens to an abattoir, then go pick them up. Often a small grower can have $1,000 just in the travel to get a small batch processed in a way they are legal to sell.
What a joy and privilege to be part of this renaissance of agrarian infrastructure. Rural communities used to have butchers, sawmills, tanneries and many other craft businesses, but they are virtually gone. Running against that current is a burgeoning tribe of artisan producers like Ben and I couldn't be prouder of what farmers like him are re-creating in their communities.
As a result of these seminars, we hope to germinate the country with yet more Bens who will take on this great mission of emotionally, ecologically, and economically healing the land.
Where are your chickens processed?