Coming at you from Cape Cod, MA! AKA: my most beautiful and heartwarming place to vacation.
At Wellfleet’s weekly summer farmers’ market (15 vendors, tops), I was lucky enough to spend some time last week talking with Drew Locke, a Poultry farmer at Hillside Poultry in nearby Truro. Drew sells half and whole chickens directly to consumers most weeks at the market.
He shared with me his philosophy on raising better chickens and the details of his operation. His family has farmed land in Truro for 7 generations (!) and Drew decided to start raising chickens while a student at UMass Amherst majoring in Sustainable Food and Farming.
Now, a few years later, he receives chicks every week, raises them for 8 weeks, and processes them on site. His birds are pasture-raised and he rotates their pens frequently -- a technique that's better for the birds and the soil. He follows the general principles of Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Drew does most of his business in the summer months (the population on the Cape drops significantly for the winter) and in addition to selling to consumers, he supplies the local higher-end restaurants with poultry. If you treat yourself to a dinner at Blackfish (my birthday dinner last year) and you order chicken, you’re eating Drew’s birds.
During our conversation, I was struck by Drew’s clear conviction in what he’s doing. It’s not the easiest way; it requires a lot of work. But Drew believes in his system and he's proud of his chickens. And wow is that inspiring!