White Rabbit CSA: Even MORE fun with chicken tractors!

At the start of the new year (yes, this post is long overdue!), while visiting loved ones, I had the good fortune to visit a CSA farm in Vero Beach, Florida.

A family friend recently started volunteering with the CSA. The CSA is relatively new, but the scale is quite impressive. It is set on about 5 acres within a larger, certified-organic family farm of about 30 acres. The CSA already has about 60 members, who each commit $15 and one hour of labor per week in exchange for fresh produce from the CSA farm.

Due to the agreeable Florida climate, even in January they had a beautiful crop of lettuce ready for harvest. Drip irrigation lines supply the lettuce with water through flat hoses.

White plastic was used to mulch the young strawberry plants seen below:

In exchange for their labor and membership fees, the CSA participants earn "bunny bucks" - points toward their choice of produce.

We went home with some mixed greens and peas, courtesy of our generous friend's labors on the farm, and enjoyed a delicious salad for lunch. The organically-grown greens were truly more flavorful than the store-bought, bagged variety!

My most favorite part of the CSA farm was the mobile chicken coop and pig tractor!

The chicken coop is built upon a trailer bed. The bottom of the coop is completely open to the ground, to allow the chickens' droppings to fall through to the ground beneath.

The chickens lay their eggs inside the coop, but otherwise are 100% free-range. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the chickens at White Rabbit CSA are enormous! They apparently have no difficulty foraging for food. The roosters and hens have complete freedom to wander over the property, though they mostly stay clustered within a few yards of the coop, as there is plenty to eat.

The mobile coop is moved every so often, along with an enclosed pig pen which then goes onto the spot vacated by the chicken coop. The pigs root the chicken droppings into the soil, helping with the next step of the composting process.

In case you are concerned about the pigs looking crowded in the photo, they did have enough room to turn and move around. I don't know much about the care of pigs, and whether they need exercise. I do know that in conventional concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), or "factory farms," pigs do not have as much space to move around, and also have to endure concrete flooring, which impedes their natural digging and rooting instinct. The mobile pig pen definitely seemed to allow them to carry out their natural pig behaviors, although I'm truly not informed enough to comment on the amount of space they were allowed.

The chickens certainly did enjoy limitless mobility, though!

The family who owns the farm has another business converting vehicles to run on biodiesel fuel (which they also produce on site). Below is one of the converted cars they have for sale:

They also operate a store on the premises, for residents who appreciate the locally-grown, organic produce, but wish to purchase food outright, rather than volunteering with the CSA. You can read more about the CSA through either of their websites - I just wanted to share some photos from our wonderful visit!

1 comment:

LiveWorkDream said...

I was looking to see how these guys were going and am so glad to see they went ahead with the CSA. We volunteered with them in 2007/2008 and loved it. Valerie and Brian are awesome. We miss them tons and hope to be back some day.