Joel Salatin, Augusta County’s self-proclaimed heretic farmer

Joel Salatin 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

The Washington Post’s Andrew Jenner asks the question many who know local farmer Joel Salatin have asked: How can he appeal to the left, right, and middle in his sustainable farming endeavors (see How America’s most famous farmer can appeal to left, right, and center)?

Joel, who lives in Augusta County southwest of Staunton on his Polyface Farm, has built a reputation on his practice of farming and raising livestock without pesticides or other invasive methods freely used in today’s agriculture. He is known far and wide because of his lectures, books, and news articles such as this one in the Washington Post that have introduced him to those looking for a cleaner way to raise their food.

Somehow along the way Joel has garnered the attention of those on all sides of the political aisle:

In the early 1990s, when word first spread that an oddball farmer was doing something different and interesting on his farm, Salatin figures that at least three-quarters of the folks who paid him any mind were “liberal earth-muffin types.” Conservatives came later to the movement, Salatin says. These days, when the Polyface parking lot fills up, bumper-sticker politics are pretty much evenly split between earth-muffin stuff and slogans from the Don’t-Tread school of thought.

Salatin vigorously resists confinement to any one camp. His Christian-conservative-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic label is a purposeful mouthful intended, in part, to satirize “the desire that we have to narrowly constrain every argument.”

In fact, he is an antiabortion evangelical Christian and a 1979 graduate of Bob Jones University. He once aspired to become a journalist in the Woodward/Bernstein mold. He’d jettison jails and resurrect the whipping post. He can’t abide the foreign wars we keep fighting while bad farming and bad food lay waste to the homeland. Drugs? Legalize them all. The sort of government that would get between a man and his meth today is the sort of government that might get between a man and his milk tomorrow — and between a man and his maker the day after that.

And that, in a nutshell, is Joel. You never know what side he will land on including the current Dominion Virginia Power pipeline debacle going on in Augusta County. While most of the tree-hugger types are anti-pipeline, Joel says bring it on, as he wrote in a post on this blog in November (see Dominion, environmentalists, and pipeline hypocrisy).

The Post article is very in-depth about one of Augusta County’s most well-known residents and includes some photos of the farm with the gorgeous Appalachian Mountains in the background.

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