Postcards from Polyface

A phenomenal weekend with the tribe and Polyface friends

Many of us are just returning from an invigorating weekend of learning and camaraderie at Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it!

The core Peak team is feeling totally energized and inspired by the experiments in resilience we’re all engaging in and sharing with each other.

Let’s keep the momentum going by pulling together some of our takeaways and reactions here.

Asks for those who attended

#1 - Share your favorite takeaway, learning, or moment in the comments below (publicly) or by emailing/private messaging us directly (privately to the PP team). What did you find most valuable or moving? What questions do you still have?
#2 - Choose a few of your favorite photos or video clips to share in the comments below! Please only share photos if you wouldn’t mind us using them on the site or for promotional purposes. Also note that this post and its comments are visible on the website.

What’s next?

If you couldn’t make it this time, don't despair -- you can still catch some of it!

Coming soon, look for a powerful, totally candid conversation between Chris and Joel that was recorded at the end of the visit!

And if you haven’t already, follow @peak.prosperity on Instagram to get more photos and videos as they roll in.

A taste of Polyface

[caption id="attachment_633205" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Joel gets us ready for the day with his signature playfulness[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_633206” align=“alignnone” width=“2560”]<img class=“size-full wp-image-633206” src=“” alt="“photo of two pigs by fence” width=“2560” height=“1920” /> A pair of happy, photogenic Polyface piglets[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_633208” align=“alignnone” width=“2560”]<img class=“size-full wp-image-633208” src=“” alt="“Mobile "Millennium Feathernet" with around 1,000 laying hens and attached feeder” width=“2560” height=“1920” /> Mobile “Millennium Feathernet” with around 1,000 laying hens and attached feeder[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_633210” align=“alignnone” width=“1920”]<img class=“size-full wp-image-633210” src=“” alt="“Photo of chicken processing line” width=“1920” height=“2560” /> Open-air chicken processing line[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_633212” align=“alignnone” width=“2560”]<img class=“size-full wp-image-633212” src=“” alt="“Pond with hoophouses and cows in background” width=“2560” height=“1920” /> Polyface vista - pond, hoop houses, and cows on the horizon[/caption]

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

There were so many amazing moments, it’s like an impossible challenge to pick one. Every time I turned around there was another fascinating conversation to be had. So many incredible thoughtful wise people, sharing a delightful educational experience with our inspiring hosts at polyface. I’m so glad I attended and shared the adventure together with so many of our tribe. Not only the organized events also the spontaneous conversations and side events that happened!

[caption id=“attachment_633257” align=“alignnone” width=“300”] Joel’s woodmill.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633248” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] Breakfast on Saturday.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633249” align=“alignnone” width=“300”] Logs for milling[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633251” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] Joel in the woodlot[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633252” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] Part of lunch on Friday. The staff did an outstanding job cooking for the tribe. Thank you![/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_633253” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] Farm manager Eric and another staff member show off the cone of silence…[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633247” align=“alignnone” width=“300”] Chris and Joel during the Q&A[/caption]
Key lines, access, water, small paddocks, keep’m moving, rotate.
What a fantastic group of people!!! Erica and I had a blast!!!

Audio Joel
Joel is so much fun to listen to. I did not get the first part, but it is the Polyface mission statement : To develop environmentally, economically, and emotionally enhancing agricultural prototypes and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.

It’s a special place and was great to see it in person. We probably should have toured a CAFO for comparison (oh, that’s right you can’t tour a CAFO, but Joel has a 24/7 open-farm policy, hmmm)
I was impressed by the staff (mostly young people). Their knowledge, skills, enthusiasm and confidence was inspirational. It occurred to me that if Joel decided to sell the farm tomorrow and sit on the beach for the rest of his life, the network of people trained at Polyface and via his books would continue his practices at hundreds (thousands?) of farms.
That’s a pretty cool legacy and will likely influence my “next chapter” in my career.

What a weekend! It was a tremendous pleasure to meet so many of the PP tribe. Nice to finally be able to associate faces with the names we see online.
It was a lot of fun to meet so many folks of varying backgrounds and age groups. Despite our differences, I think we all have an innate curiosity and ability to think in an “atypical” way.
Joel Salatin has done something amazing in creating Polyface Farm; just as Chris Martenson did with Peak Prosperity, starting with the “Crash Course” so long ago. I’m grateful for places like these where the realities of our current predicaments are openly discussed. It’s a refreshing contrast.
Thanks for setting this up Chris and Crew!

My greatest takeaway is Chris’ crew. What a team. I’m excited about the future of PeakProsperity.
Joel is amazing. The eveready bunny couldn’t keep up.
His apprenticeship program fiefdoms are genius.
His way of raising cattle is carbon negative!
I heard from an unnamed source that the 1.87% DWSNBN2 is purer than the 3mg pills my MD prescribed. Just hearsay of course. I still say the pills are cut with mannitol. ?

Wished I was there! Looking at the pics, I see people who I would fit right in with and know that within moments together we would feel like kindred spirits. Down to earth, easy going people, comfortable in their own shoes, and who get it. That is the tribe ?
Glad you all had a great time and experience. One day… I will be at a PP gathering!! [Barring Turdeau and team going full commie on us and doing the unspeakable…]

Thank you Chris, Joel, and crew for making this happened. It was an amazing time.
Next time we want to bring the kids if we can.
Maybe some future suggestions:

  • Let's get break out sessions that people can sign up for. I would even volunteer for a few tops.
  • What about camping on site?
  • Probably a stretch at this point, but what about a kids program eventually?
  • Instead of completely relaying on paid stave to run the place, let's take volunteers for directing traffic, clean up, food prep, and other stuff
  • Lets have an organized camp fire. Do any of us have musical talents and wouldn't mind sharing?

What a weekend! A heartfelt thank you to all of you involved in setting this up. My wife, Jamie, and I were just blown away. We learned so much!
My favorite takeaway was actually something Joel mentioned about attitude and how he handles “the system” he is actively working to compete against. He carries an attitude of forgiveness towards the state, regulators, and others that might not quite understand what he is up to. That was profound. Personally, I have too much pent-up frustration and anger with “the way things are,” and it can come through in being short when discussing our methods with folks that don’t understand (we have yet to cross paths with any regulators). The entire weekend at Polyface was a reminder to me that I need to let that go; let go all of the pain, frustration, anger and everything else that can come with living in an upside down world. Everyone at Polyface had a heart of service and kindness, and it was rather emotional for me to see that at work.
It reminded me of Matthew 7:16-20:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

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This was a great way to spend two days, the breadth of knowledge we were given plus the depth of knowledge available within earshot was impressive to say the least. It helped me solidify my food production plans moving forward, and opened my eyes to some completely new ideas. I’m now checking out saw mills, something that wasn’t really on my radar previously.
I also appreciate seeing folks like Joel and Chris in person. Sometimes people can make good videos/content but are not as impressive in person. Not the case here, they’re the real deal. I thought they were sincere, and clearly focused on making the world a better place.
We need to step away from the computer screen more often, change requires action. If you want to know how to get from hatchery to plate running on sunlight and carbon, then visit Polyface. They have mastered the art of doing it (and teaching it).

I’m not 100% sure, but I think Joel structures his team by giving each apprentice or task leader some independence in running their particular sub specialty. And I gather that there are financial incentives built in. Each presenter was very professional and knowledgeable. Entrepreneurialism and capitalism was shown to work effectively.
I met many people and exchanged contact info and hope to develop lasting relationships.
Although I could only be there on Friday due to family obligations, it was worth the full price of admission.
Had a chuckle with the PP crew about the written Geert Vanden Bossche transcript which referred to Viral “shitting”. And mentioned to Chris how succinct the summary video was.
All in all a great experience!

As opposed to the shot in the arm I don’t need! :wink:
Loved meeting new people and hearing all the awesome conversations. Glad Chis is back in the saddle and ready to roll. I am ready for more!

I had much fun meeting (and re-meeting) other members of the PP tribe, and I learned a lot in just two days’ time…information I’ll need to revisit and re-learn before it will set. I took ample notes, but also noticed peers writing even better notes nearby. If anyone is willing, we should consider pooling our notes in one central location, to be accessed and seen by all, or at least all who attended. For my part, I’ll be converting my notes to a Powerpoint format to help with the fact that my handwriting is horrid.
Many thanks to Chris and his team, as well as Joel and his team, for putting this together. Joel’s apprentice corps were motivated and knowledgeable, and they give me some hope for the future.
I still think the model Joel has and the model Singing Frog Farms has would be a powerhouse duo, and I hope that some of the “offshoots” of both will at some point come together and combine their relative strengths to offset the holes in each. I know that I never would have taken the plunge to vegetarianism had farms like Joel’s been around in ample supply in MD 22 years back, too.
My only question is how many days straight did Chris and his whole team sleep afterwards…

This is a big question I didn’t get to ask at the conference. What options do we have to solve the land ownership problems?
Those problems being:

  • First, A young farmer wants to start a farm. Land prices are crazy expensive. Their only option is to take on very large amounts of debt, which means the bank needs those loan payments to start coming asap, which means they don't have time to regenerate the land first. Their every action is under scrutiny to make profit.
  • Second, We aren't growing more land, but we are growing more people. Which means lands prices will always keep going up. It's great to work out all those mutual thief-ems, but the those owning the land are sitting on a huge investment that could sold in their later years.
  • Land management by committee doesn't work, as Joel discussed.
Do we have a model where a farmer can own and live on the land, the land can never be sold for profit, and the land has to be regenerated/improved? -Travis

I didn’t attend the weekend but have heard Joel speak at farm conferences. One session was about managing interns/employees. I think it was in late 2018. He gave an example of the delivery truck driver: There were established customers with predictable purchases when the new driver was hired. They were paid a fixed fee (I think hourly) for the route. If they personally identified new customers or persuaded existing customers to buy new products, they got a comission.

My favorite takeaway: The synergy of the whole experience including the staff, the program, the tribe, the place, the animals, and the farmer that pulled it all together + the talk between Chris & Joel.
Questions I still have: (1) what happens when the feed they use is out of supply? (2) what happens when the hatchlings they are supplied with run out of supply? In other words, how can they do what they do and be 100% self sufficient if need be? I understand that the answer would affect the economics of their model, but I’m thinking worse case, if supply lines for items they depend on are shut down.


Here are some of the shots I managed to get
[caption id=“attachment_633647” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] The combined rabbit breeder area and chicken coop. The chickens stir up the mulch of the floor, helping the rabbit excrement compost.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633645” align=“alignnone” width=“300”]Chicken Broiler One of the dozens of chicken broilers- designed to allow chickens outdoor time but be moved daily[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633646” align=“alignnone” width=“300”]Chicken Broiler Movable chicken broiler[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633649” align=“alignnone” width=“300”] PPers looking at one of the sheep grazing areas.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633651” align=“alignnone” width=“300”] Movable chicken house, designed to allow chickens to fertilize fields so grass grows for the cattle[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633653” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] Joel’s lumber yard. He did a great job explaining how to better make money off of your homestead’s forested areas.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633654” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] The pigs were mostly free-range within movable “zones.” They definitely had unique personalities, based on what little I saw of each of them.[/caption]
[caption id=“attachment_633652” align=“alignnone” width=“225”] The chick day-care center (not it’s formal name). Learned a LOT about figuring out what the chicks need by observing their behavior, rather than relying on tools or gauges.[/caption]

I missed it :frowning: Related & Good read . Polyface Farms in Virginia hosted a summit on June 18-19 on healing and living in the modern world disease-free with abundant energy, peace and joy.

First, the highlight of this gathering for me, as always, was the amazing assemblage of people. Both those in our PP tribe who were drawn to it, as well as the fine folks at Polyface.
I truly love getting to meet people, and was really impacted by and inspired (to keep going) by the many people who expressed deep gratitude for the work I’ve done over the years and especially the Covid coverage. At least a dozen stories emerged from people who had managed to get out of countries before the SHTF, who had helped loved ones avoid getting sick, or who had stocked up in time to avoid being part of the anxious crowds who got onto the story late.
These moments help remind me of exactly why I do what I do. Of course I know that on some level. But the on-line model doesn’t compare at all to hearing and receiving such connections in person. There’s no replacing all the subtle cues that come from person-to-person contact.
Next, I was especially thrilled to have my new PP team there to meet everyone. Two of them were old hands at PP gatherings while the other two had only heard about them.
So now the whole team is on the same page; the PP tribe is simply an amazing collection of people. Everyone on our side came away inspired to have more gatherings like this, of different sorts and flavors, and in strong agreement that events are a cornerstone of what we can do on our end to best serve this community.
Lastly, the Polyface team and Joel really put on a show for us. They obviously spent considerable time blocking out and arranging a masterful learning experience for us. The flow, the events, the props - all indicated the amount of time they had put into this experience for us.
For anyone wondering if the price was worth it, the answer is yes.
AAAA++++ would buy again!
Now to my title - Perhaps this speaks to my own situation as a practicing farmer but I was soaking up knowledge as fast as I could but realized that the depth of knowledge contained in the heads of the Polyface masters far exceeded the 1-hour blocks of time we spent in any one zone.

Above is Daniel, Joel’s son, giving us an all-too-brief instruction on pasture management. He answered a lot for me, but I had a hundred more questions than could be addressed.
I think field management could easily be an entire day. Of course, I am trying desperately to get our fields back up to high productivity, and it’s going well enough, so I have perhaps many more urgent questions than the average person.
Again, this trip was a top-notch event for me and my team and I know from many of the attendees that’s a shared sentiment. So, see you there next year?