Local Food Workshop: Black Eagle Farm

A consistently rewarding part of this job is my ability to meet and establish relationships with local food producers -- especially because I don't have to travel far off Grounds to do so. A couple of weeks ago, I made it down to Black Eagle Farm, about forty minutes away in Nelson County, for the third and final presentation in a series of farm workshops organized by the VA Cooperative Extension. Black Eagle Farm is a gorgeous 1000-acre property that has been farmed since the 18th century. The current owner decided to preserve such historically agricultural land by keeping it in production, and hired a live-in farm manager to oversee all operations: natural beef, pork, lamb, and goat, and organic certified eggs.

The main focus of the farm is the egg operation, known as Piney River Organics. The farm maintains about 50,000 birds, and such a large scale clearly necessitates quite a bit of mechanized labor. The chickens lay their eggs on what is actually a small conveyor belt; this whisks away the eggs off to the washing and sorting room, where the eggs are cleaned and automatically separated according to size. It's actually a rather impressive and well-run operation, but it does bring up questions about the inevitable impact of such a large volume of one species in a fairly contained space, as well as the footprint of a process so reliant on machinery (and oil). Certainly, though, this organically certified system is far more desirable than the conventional alternative -- and while our economies of scale are currently preventing us from moving towards an even lower impact operation, we'll just have to take it one step at a time.

1 comment:

  1. it is important to establish relationships with local producers of food - especially because they have to travel far reasons for this, and the cost is lower and is a better product