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Healthy Food: Nurturing The Natural Process

Mar 15, 2016 06:07PM ● Published by Erica Shames

Cornish Cross Chickens

Gallery: Owens Farm [14 Images] Click any image to expand.

Nate Seigel grew up on a farm outside Mifflinburg where his parents grew and produced food consumed by the family. Seigel returned to live on the farm with his wife Kelly and their two young children with a goal: raise healthy food and teach his children respect for the process. 

“For the first time, we’re out of touch with our food source,” said Seigel, general manager of Mifflinburg Lumber and Susquehanna HomeScapes. “There’s something very humbling about farming—nurturing the natural process in what’s become an industrialized farming environment.” 

Where we’re at

Concentrated Area Food Operations, or CAFOs, define in large part how the animals we eat are raised.  It concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined places; issues ranging from water and air quality and public health and animal health and welfare concerns abound.   

It’s not surprising, then, that the more the public learns about CAFOs, the more alternative options they seek. For Seigel, sustainability is the important factor in farming. “To me that means being a steward of nature,” he said. “How can I make the land my parents own, the farm I live on, better for the generation after me?”

A better way

Seigel’s research led him to Joel Salatin, who runs Polyface, Inc., a family-owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. “He’s a big proponent of pastured, naturally raised food,” Seigel learned. “Moving the chickens, and providing a way for them to get fresh air, fresh water, sunlight and unmedicated food, are the keys.”

Seigel settled on raising Cornish Cross chickens, the most popular breed of meat chickens. He starts when they’re a day old and raises them for 8 weeks before sending them to the butcher. The first three weeks they live in a brooder, a large kiddie swimming pool, where they have access to food 12 hours a day. 

After three weeks, chickens are moved outside to a chicken tractor, a movable chicken coop with a cover and no floor, lightweight enough to be moved around the yard on a regular basis. It allows the chickens to stay dry, interact with soil and get fresh air. 

“They are fed a regimented amount twice a day, which allows them to grow at the pace I want,” said Seigel. “Feeding them intermittently requires them to do a little scratching and pecking in the soil to look for bugs to eat.”

Every morning, Seigel moves the chicken tractor to a fresh plot of grass, which develops soil health.  “The nitrogen [in the manure] is one reason the Chesapeake Bay has problems,” Seigel notes. “There’s two issues: one relates to the ability of the soil to absorb the nitrogen and the other is about the amount of nitrogen on top. The chickens scratch and peck, opening up the soil and aerating it—allowing the manure to soak down in, rather than run off.”

End result

At eight weeks, each chicken weighs 4 to 6 pounds when dressed by Eli Reiff’s custom poultry business. Last year, Seigel sold 21 of the chickens he raised to family and friends and kept five for his family to enjoy.  This year, he anticipates raising eight rounds of chickens at 30 chickens a piece.  In the years ahead, Seigel envisions bigger things: raising 1000 or more chickens a year and expanding to pork, beef and lamb. 

“We’re in a crisis right now,” laments Seigel. “The average age of a farmer is 62. There’s no way that 5 percent of the U.S. population can produce food for the entire country. We all need to be more involved. I don’t think about it every day, but when I have a discussion like this, it reminds me there’s more importance to this then just ending up with a frozen chicken in my freezer.”

Another perspective

Caroline and Dave Owens raised pigs and lambs for their own consumption on a 13-acre New Hampshire farm in the 1990s. It wasn’t long before friends and family asked to buy their meat. “Looking back, that’s when the sustainable agriculture movement was beginning,” said Caroline.

The Owens outgrew the farm and moved to a 112-acre farm outside Sunbury. Today, the Owens raise 200 lambs in the spring and the birth process is an educational event the public participates in through Lamb Slumber Parties and Adopt-a-Sheep programs. They also raise chickens, turkeys, pigs and bees sustainably. 

Animals are pastured and moved often to allow them to eat grass. Integrated Pest Management is employed to manage disease. “By rotating and managing your grazing, you create much healthier soils,” said Caroline. “All animals are challenged by internal parasites, but they’re species-specific. So we graze horses where sheep have gone to break the sheep worm lifecycle.” 

Going their own way 

By breeding their own animals, and keeping only mothers that produce the fittest offspring, the Owens raise healthier strains and bypass the use of antibiotics and feed additives.  ““People working within industrial models have contracts and obligations—animals have to reach a certain weight by a certain time,” Caroline explained. “We market direct to the consumer, and celebrate diversity. We have small families and families on a budget who want a small pig; the big ones are sold to families with five kids!”

The Owens’ sustainable model affords the freedom to raise heritage strains that retain a breed’s original characteristics. “Hogs have gone through many generations, and made quick genetic progress,” notes Caroline. “The heritage breeds are still good mothers—and have a lot of fat on them to withstand the cold.” 

Sustainable practices are enjoying more popularity, Caroline notes, allowing her and fellow PASA farmers to grow their businesses. “More people are talking about sustainability,” she said. “Access to sustainably produced food is fueling that. In Pennsylvania, especially, it’s so easy to buy good meat. More and more families are doing it.” 

Commerce in action

The value of sustainability is not lost on businesses who recognize the practicality and market advantage of sourcing locally grown food that focuses on renewability of resources. Weis Markets, for example, promotes partnerships with local businesses and communities to advance sustainable agriculture. In 2015, the company earned a Retail Sustainability Award from Produce Business magazine for its overall corporate sustainability initiatives. The award is presented annually to the most progressive North American grocery retailer for exemplary environmental sustainability and social responsibility efforts. In PA, Weis Markets purchases more than 24 million pounds of locally grown produce. 

“We educate our customers on the importance of sustainable and local agriculture practices and provide them the opportunity to purchase fresh and sustainably-produced food and produce from local farmers,” said Dennis Curtin, director of public relations. “We process our own milk and use the excess butterfat to make our Weis Quality Ice Cream. And over 95 percent of our milk comes from Pennsylvania farms.” 

Sustainable agriculture focuses on producing food in a way that does not degrade the environment. It’s often characterized by its three main goals: economic profitability, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Sustainable agriculture is a journey rather than a destination—one in which we all can participate.


To learn more: 

Learn more about Joel Salatin’s sustainable farming operation at PolyfaceFarms.com.

Farm tours of Owens Farm are at OwensFarm.com.

Information about sustainability is available from Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) at PASAFarming.org.

More information about Weis Markets’ sustainable team is at WeisMarkets.com/weis-markets-receives-top-honor-for-sustainability.  

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  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • First Friday's at the Museum

    03/02/2018
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    The museum will be OPEN UNTIL 8p.m. the first Friday of every month with special activities for e...


  • Music Together Preview Class

    03/02/2018
    10:05AM — 11:00AM

    This internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program is led by certified mu...


  • Homework Happy Hour Tutoring

    03/02/2018
    03:00PM — 04:15PM

    Fridays 3-4:15 p.m. during the school year beginning Feb.9th.  Bloomsburg University Education...


  • Culture Cafe- Nepal

    03/02/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for an evening of storytelling, song, tastings, and crafts from cultures around the world...


  • Who would have predicted, when Riverdance exploded into world-wide popularity in 1995, that 22 ye...


  • Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up)

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up) CE 189, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Short Story Writing

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Short Story Writing CE 208, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 (no class on February 24) 10 a.m. - ...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/04/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/04/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/06/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/06/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/06/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13

    03/06/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13 YS 40, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m....


  • Business Practices for Creatives

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Business Practices for Creatives DES 200, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 1 c...


  • HTML5 & Website Design

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    HTML5 & Website Design DES 155, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $475 ...


  • Drawing (Portrait & Figure)

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Drawing (Portrait & Figure) CE 91, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Evan ...


  • Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media CE 238, Tuesday, January 30- March 6 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $215 Ju...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/07/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/07/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/07/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homeschool Hangout

    03/07/2018
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every other Wednesday 11-1p.m. during the school year beginning Jan. 17th-Apr. 25th.Parent/child ...


  • Basics of Copyright Law for Visual Artists

    03/08/2018
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Basics of Copyright Law for Visual Artists WS 102, Thursday, March 8 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., $60 Pet...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/08/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/08/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/08/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • iMAKE

    03/08/2018
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. String ...


  • Intro to Video Production & Short Film

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Video Production & Short Film DES 178, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.,...


  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/09/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/09/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/09/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homework Happy Hour Tutoring

    03/09/2018
    03:00PM — 04:15PM

    Fridays 3-4:15 p.m. during the school year beginning Feb.9th.  Bloomsburg University Education...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Microscopy

    03/10/2018
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Microscopy March 10th 1-3pm Get a peek at microscopic cells and organisms! Scouts with learn the...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/11/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/11/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Adobe Illustrator

    03/12/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Illustrator DES 151, Monday & Wednesday, March 12 - April 11 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1 credit, $4...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/13/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/13/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13

    03/13/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13 YS 40, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m....


  • Content Creation & Digital Storytelling

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Content Creation & Digital Storytelling SM 105, Tuesday & Thursday, March 13 - April 12 6 p.m. ...


  • Business Practices for Creatives

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Business Practices for Creatives DES 200, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 1 c...


  • HTML5 & Website Design

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    HTML5 & Website Design DES 155, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $475 ...


  • Drawing (Portrait & Figure)

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Drawing (Portrait & Figure) CE 91, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Evan ...


  • Intro to Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering CE 186, Tuesday, March 13 - April 10 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $19...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/14/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/14/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Homeschool Hangout

    03/14/2018
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every other Wednesday 11-1p.m. during the school year beginning Jan. 17th-Apr. 25th.Parent/child ...


  • Adobe Illustrator

    03/14/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Illustrator DES 151, Monday & Wednesday, March 12 - April 11 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1 credit, $4...


  • This family quartet garnered international critical acclaim for its unprecedented arrangements an...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/15/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/15/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • iMAKE

    03/15/2018
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. String ...


  • Intro to Video Production & Short Film

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Video Production & Short Film DES 178, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.,...


  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • Content Creation & Digital Storytelling

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Content Creation & Digital Storytelling SM 105, Tuesday & Thursday, March 13 - April 12 6 p.m. ...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/16/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/16/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Music Together Family Classes

    03/16/2018
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    8 class sessions run from Friday, Mar. 16th to May 4th at 10:15 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. This intern...


  • Music Together Family Classes

    03/16/2018
    11:15AM — 12:00PM

    8 class sessions run from Friday, Mar. 16th to May 4th at 10:15 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. This intern...


  • Homework Happy Hour Tutoring

    03/16/2018
    03:00PM — 04:15PM

    Fridays 3-4:15 p.m. during the school year beginning Feb.9th.  Bloomsburg University Education...


  • Join the Central Columbia Junior Jay Bots and area FIRST Lego League Jr clubs for a LEGO expo!Thi...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Meet the Masters: Cave Paintings

    03/17/2018
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    It’s never too early to introduce art through exploring “the masters” like Monet, O’Keefe, and Pi...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/18/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/18/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Lancaster's upscale boutique, Festoon, presents it's sophomore spring collection of it's exclusiv...


  • Adobe Illustrator

    03/19/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Illustrator DES 151, Monday & Wednesday, March 12 - April 11 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1 credit, $4...



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