Joel’s Speaking Topics:
- CAN WE FEED THE WORLD? This is hands down the most frequently asked question to Joel or anyone else who promotes localized, solar-driven, carbon-fertilized systems. Even most foodies and environmentalists have a deep-seated assumption that were it not for the petroleum-based fertilizer boom–the green revolution–we could not feed ourselves. Those massive Kansas wheat field and California almond groves, for most people, represent efficiency and abundance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Backyard gardens and multi-speciation are far more productive per acre. Modern scientific aerobic composting was not invented until 1943–about the same time as chemical fertilizer became widely used. In this performance, Joel will give you the tools to articulate a credible “feed the world” argument.
- HOW CAN WE AFFORD IT? This was always the second question Joel was asked after finishing a performance, so he decided to turn the answer into a full production. Sprinkled with satire poking fun at what Americans love to buy, Joel challenges the very assumptions of a cheap food policy. The answer to the question, of course, is a resounding yes. Joel examines the issue from many angles to arrive at this conclusion. Buying unprocessed to prepare, package, and preserve at home are one of the key answers to eating royalty food without the cost. Processed food is expensive. Cutting out frivolous stuff, from lottery tickets to Starbucks to $100 designer jeans with holes already in the knees releases precious dollars to patronize higher quality food. Joel blasts externalized unrecognized undocumented costs of industrial food and the unfair playing field created by subsidy programs. And what about the single mom with four children living in the middle of an urban food desert? You’ll have to hear the speech to get the answer.
- REDEEMING THE EARTH As the self-described Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic, Joel is finally being asked by more and more people in the faith community to articulate his down-to-earth understanding of how a Judeo-Christian belief system affects earth stewardship. Unlike a cerebral theological academic lecture, this performance explains the visceral function and appearance of a farm and ecosystem that acts as a visceral object lesson illustrating God’s attributes. Joel sprinkles Biblical precepts throughout to make the connection between the physical and spiritual. For example, the multi-speciated symbiosis used at Polyface Farm is a direct expression of how a diversity of gifts and talents should operate in a church setting. Building immune systems and water retentive capacity are physical manifestations of human stewardship. What are we here for? Among other things, we humans are here to massage God’s creation with our cleverness to stimulate more biomass generation from solar energy. Honoring the pigness of the pig creates a sacredness to the sacrifice necessary for life to spring from death. This presentation is as appropriate in a Sunday morning worship service as it is for a college ethics class.
- Folks, This Ain’t Normal Based on his book by the same title, this whimsical performance is filled with history, satire, and prophecy. While most Americans seem to think our techno-glitzy disconnected celebrity-worshipping culture will be the first to sail off into a Star Trek future unencumbered by ecological umbilicals, Salatin bets that the future will instead incorporate more tried and true realities from the past.
Ours is the first culture with no chores for children, cheap energy, heavy mechanization, computers, supermarkets, TV dinners and unpronounceable food. Although he doesn’t believe that we will return to horses and buggies, wash boards, and hoop skirts, Salatin believes we will go back in order to go forward, using technology to re-establish historical normalcy.That normalcy will include edible landscapes, domestic larders, pastured livestock, solar driven carbon cycling for fertility, and a visceral relationship with life’s fundamentals: food, energy, water, air, soil, fabric, shelter. We may as well get started enthusiastically than be dragged reluctantly into this more normal existence. Rather than being an abstract, cerebral, academic look at ecology, food systems, and soil development, this talk is based firmly on a lifetime spent communing with ecology, economics, and emotion in their full reality, as a farmer.
Both sobering and inspiring, this performance empowers people to tackle the seemingly impossibly large tasks that confront our generation. Historical contexts create jump-off points for the future–a future as bright as our imagination and as sure as the past.
- The Sheer Ecstasy Of Being A Lunatic Farmer The expression that birthed Joel’s book by the same title, this performance describes, with hilarious stories and drama, the difference between Polyface and today’s average farm. If you’ve ever wondered how a local, pasture-based, relationally oriented farm differs from industrial commodity-based machine-driven farms, this presentation takes away the mystery. A wide ranging discussion, this performance ranges from ponds to people to politics. You’ll never think about food and farming the same way. You’ll be challenged, encouraged, and entertained on your way to learning from this self-described lunatic farmer.
- Ballet In The Pasture Polyface Farm’s choreographed plant-animal symbiosis heals the landscape, the community, and the eater. A theatrical performance mixing humor and bomb-shell food system analysis, Salatin’s stemwinder educates, entertains, and encourages. First rate pictures let the audience take a virtual tour around this grass-based multi-species livestock farm. Salatin’s passionate explanations offer up a veritable epiphany on food and farming. Life-changing and ultimately memorable, Ballet in the Pasture is Salatin’s signature performance.
- Food Emancipation Why can’t you buy raw milk, ice cream with eggs in it, or home-made sausage? America’s food system, enslaved by a global corporate bureaucratic fraternity, offers less choice amid the perception of abundance. The only reason the framers of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights did not guarantee citizens freedom of food choice was because they could not have conceived of a day when private treaty neighbor-to-neighbor food commerce would be demonized and criminalized. In this call to grass roots food activism, Salatin seeks a Food Emancipation Proclamation, freeing citizens to opt out of the industrial food fraternity.
- Dancing With Dinner Industrial food is aesthetically and aromatically unpleasant from production to supermarket. Although eating is arguably the most intimate thing humans do–next to the act of marriage–during the last few decades Americans have lost their dinner dance partner. Culinary skills and local food connections have been replaced with “No Trespassing” signs, bureaucratic paperwork, unpronounceable labels, bar codes, and beeping cash registers. The soul-satisfying act of eating is now a sterile, manufactured to-do item snarfed up on the run. Amidst this frenetic lifestyle, the neglected dinner dance partner beckons to return . . . at the farm, at farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture drop points, and in the kitchen. In this eclectic presentation,Salatin links culture, agriculture, and a romantic dinner dance partner.
- Relationship Marketing For nearly half a century, Polyface Farm’s patron base has morphed and expanded with the culture and new food awareness. As a 10-year-old with a backyard flock of laying hens, Salatin pedaled eggs around his rural neighborhood in the basket of his bicycle. Mixing humorous stories with passionate “aha’s”, this presentation draws from a host of marketing venues to educate and entertain. Currently, Polyface supplies some 400 families from an on-farm store, 1,600 families in Metropolitan Buying Clubs, 30 restaurants, and 10 retail venues. Each has assets and liabilities, and Salatin freely discusses all the nuances. Heavy on hilarious stories, this talk empowers otherwise reluctant marketers to go for it.
- Holy Cows And Hog Heaven From field to fork, food carries a sacred dimension. The USDA mantra to grow it faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper views pigs as inanimate piles of protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly the egocentric human mind can conceive. Such disrespect and dishonor carries over toward people and other cultures. A moral, ethical thread connects the field to the plate, a soul-satisfying thread that connects both farmers and eaters in nobility and sacredness.
- Local Food To The Rescue Biosecurity, food borne pathogens, energy, integrity, humane husbandry: local food can correct it all. But to really be a credible percentage of the global food system, it must develop six integrated components: production, processing, marketing, accounting, distribution, and patrons. Building a local food system that works requires aromatic and aesthetic production models that reimbed the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker into the community. Economies of scale in collaborative foodshed distribution compete with corporate volume. And patrons must rediscover their kitchens, eating seasonally and relearning domestic culinary arts.
- Working With Your Kids So They Will Want To Work With You Most farms and family businesses lose continuity because parent and child never cultivated rewarding emotional and economic relationships. Centered around 10 commandments to make the kids love working with mom and dad, this challenging and far-reaching presentation offers techniques to eliminate dawdling, cultivate persistence, and stimulate innovation. It also includes structuring and scaling the farm to make room for the next generation.
- Going Full Time With Your Part-Time Farm Too many wannabee farmers feel tapped in a farmer’s body paying bills with off-farm incomes. Scaling up with emotional, economic, and environmental integrity requires specific techniques like stacking, value adding, divesifying, and building multiple use infrastructures. You don’t need to own land to farm; all the infrastructure and customers are portable. Capital payback leases and other techniques can propel your farm to a white collar salary.
- Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal Despite all the hype about local or green food, the single biggest impediment to wider adoption is not research, programs, organizations, or networking. It is the demonizing and criminalizing of virtually all indigenous and heritage-based food practices. From zoning to labor to food safety to insurance, local food systems dailyi face a phalanx of regulatory hurdles designed and implemented to police industrial food models but which prejudicially wipe out the antidote: appropriate scaled local food systems. A call for guerrilla marketing, food choice freedom legislation, and empirical pathogen thresholds offers solutions to these bureaucratic hurdles.
- Pastured Poultry Profits Perhaps the most doable pastured-based livestock enterprise is poultry. The reasons are numerous: lowest up-front investment, quick cash turnaround, marketability, easily differentiated, child friendly, simple and portable infrastructure, and on-farm processing. In this mature Polyface model, Salatin walks you through broilers, egg layers, and turkeys. They all have distinctive needs for diet, shelter, marketing, and processing. This talk is hard core how-to, going into the intricate details from brooding to processing. This is still the centerpiece enterprise at Polyface Farm.
- Salad Bar Beef This is the term Salatin coined to describe his pasture-finished cattle: fresh daily paddocks and lots of forage species variety. A hard core how-to talk, this one walks the audience though electric fencing, water systems, breeding, movement logistics, forage growth and rest cycles, stockpiling for dormant seasons, and processing. A permutation on the theme is mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization. Whew! And it’s all here to see.
- Forgiveness Farming The ultimate responsibility of land stewards is to build resiliency into their farms and ranches. Like it or not, nature is not always a gentle spirit. Floods, droughts, disease, winds, sickness, low prices: these and more will strike at some time or another. Preparing for these crises requires that farm businesses insulate themselves from commodity price fluctuations. It means increasing animal and plant immunity, reducing population concentrations, and storing water. This talk ranges broadly into the many vulnerabilities farms experience but offers ways to make those crises less threatening.
Corporate Presentations by Joel Salatin:
- Scaling Up Without Selling Your Soul Using Polyface Farm as an object lesson, this presentation offers a passionate values-based business alternative to the Wall-Streetified numerical growth, growth, growth objective. Daring to take on the very foundations of western business icons like market goals, no IPOs, and incentivized work forces. Many successful entrepreneurial start-ups morph into mercenary empires that lose their distinctives. Intuitively we all know that the most valuable things in life never get put on a balance sheet or business plan: healthy salamanders, dancing earthworms, adoring spouses. First given at the Innovation Immersion conference in 2008, this talk focuses on an alternative business philosophy that preserves the nobility of business.
- Worthy Work: Meet Me In The Pasture Using beautiful pictures of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, this evangelical-style motivational talk seeks to empower and elevate every person in the organization to a new state of sacredness. The alliterated outline includes 7 major points:
- Discover Your Parameters
- Determine Your Protocol
- Develop Your Partners
- Define Your Product
- Diversify Your Portfolio
- Demand Your Performance
- Demonstrate Your Priorities
A totally unique motivational approach, Salatin’s agrarian background coupled with his dynamic theatrical style bring fresh insight and perspectives to corporate gatherings. Guaranteed to be a presentation your people will talk about for many days. His many days working alone with land and livestock brings an integrity and salt-of-the-earth strength to any audience.
- Watch Where You Step This hilariously entertaining dramatic presentation pokes whimsical fun at communication and language confusion. All work environments suffer from technical jargon, generational misunderstandings, and assumed knowledge. Light hearted but smattered with communication insights, this presentation is great fun for any gathering. Playing off the many miscommunications in a family farming enterprise, Salatin both entertains and instructs. The simple instruction “Check pigs” doesn’t mean slow down to 40 miles an hour as you go sailing by the pasture. A great talk for after dinner or anytime you want laughs with a point.