Farm History

Farm History

Sojourner Farm
943 East Windfall Rd
Olean, NY 14760

 May 7, 2006

The following is a synopsis of who we are:

Having both grown up on commercial (i.e. chemical and fertilizer-intensive) potato farms, Lesa and I for several reasons, had no interest what-so-ever in that type of food production.  Serendipity would have it that we would become owners of an abandoned dairy farm and the question was what to do with all that fallow land.  We sure didn’t want to go into the type of farming we had grown up with but again, fate stepped in and a few years ago Cornell Co-op extension brought a gentleman by the name of Joel Salatin as a guest speaker at an alternative-farming seminar in Alfred and he planted the seed in me to seek further information about this up and coming “radical” approach to farming called pastured meat production.

This type of farming seemed much more user-friendly and sustainable ecologically, and as a practicing Physician, it was obvious to me that this was a much healthier way to raise meat both for the consumer and the farmer.  Not knowing if this was something we wanted to pursue in a big way, we followed Mr. Salatin’s suggestion and began with pastured poultry since it was seasonal and not capital intensive to get into.

Our first foray into pastured meats was to raise 100 broilers in the summer of 2002.  We gave away a couple birds to each of 30 or so neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances to get their input as to whether poultry raised this way was different and more appealing than what they’d been getting in the grocery store.  People raved about the taste and texture of the meat and they also appreciated the fact that the birds were raised humanely and chemical free. The following summer we had orders for 300 plus birds and the amount of orders has been climbing steadily ever since (just through word-of-mouth).

We now have decided to pursue pastured meats in a bigger way and this year are expanding to pastured meat-goats and hopefully pastured pork. We may experiment with heritage turkeys and eventually, when we’ve gained more experience and confidence will probably venture into pastured beef to round out our menu.  We also, in a small way are experimenting with producing chemical-free honey.

We love to have visitors to the farm since we feel that it is quite important for people to see and know where their food comes from and how it is raised.  We feel that if more people knew how most of our food is produced commercially, they would demand significant paradigm shifts.  We, as a society, have delegated the task of monitoring food quality to others and they may not always have the consumer’s best interest at heart.

Who knows where this new endeavor will take us and what we’ll be doing in 5 years.  What we do know is that it will be an adventure and it will allow us to eat good healthy food, meet great people who care what goes into their diet and hopefully be able to re-educate consumers about what real food looks and tastes like.  For me as a physician, and for Lesa as an educator, these are very gratifying possibilities.