"Lunatic Farmer" Joel Salatin brings farming gospel to WNC

Apr 12, 2014


For organic farmers, Joel Salatin is like a rock star.

One person told me he’s the best lecturer she’s ever seen. Someone else compared his talks to an old fashioned tent revival. When I mentioned that to Salatin, he laughed.

“I absolutely would be classified as a member of the religious right,” he said.

Salatin calls himself a “Christian, libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist farmer.” That may seem like a set of contradictory terms, for to Salatin, they’re exactly what he’s all about.

Salatin is a wordsmith with a sense of humor and a message to tell. In that sense, he is absolutely an evangelist. But his version of human redemption is all about natural stewardship-- caring for the earth through organic, sustainable farming.

Salatin is a man of faith-- faith in God, but also faith in his own success through holding on to his own convictions. That attitude,Salatin says, is exactly what got Polyface Farms into Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma.

The way Salatin tells the story, it was the funniest and best turn of events. It all happened because the farm wouldn’t ship their meet to Pollan in New York.

“We really believe in local food," Salatin said.

"And I’m not saying that it’s a sin to ship. I’m just saying that sometimes a business is defined as much by what they say no to as what they say yes to.  I told Michael, there are plenty of New York farmers up there, get it from them. And at first he was upset, then he was intrigued. He came down,  and the rest is history."

Salatin is the author of nine books. Four generations of his family work and live on the farm.

The self-described "lunatic farmer" is scheduled to talk Saturday at 6pm at UNC-Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall as part of their annual Greenfest celebration.

Sundat at 4, as part of the keynote address for the Mother Earth News Fair, he’ll present the talk “Heretics Unite.”