What does Jóia mean and why did you name your farm Jóia Food Farm?
The literal meaning of jóia (pronounced joy-ah) is "jewel' in Portuguese. We feel it represents the farm itself and our family heritage of hard work, laboring on the land, food production, and caring for the natural resources it provides. We live and work on Wendy's grandparent's farm, where she feels she can honor all of their hard work and dedication to the farm, family, and community that they grew together. A jewel is precious, and this is exactly what the farm is to us.
Wendy spent a few years living in Brazil where her love of food blossomed. Fresh is a part of every meal, there is no such thing as an instant meal, and the slow process of food is the norm. She admired the slower pace of life and the culture where people take the time to cook, eat together, converse, laugh, and savor the flavors of the food. Efficiency is not a priority.
On the streets, when people walk by one another, sometimes they ask in passing, "tudo bem?" and some people respond, "tudo jóia!". Wendy loved this totally optimistic response, because yes, all can be like a jewel.
Are your animals ethically and humanely raised?
Yes. We take animal welfare and the humane treatment of animals seriously. When we started adding animals to our farm, we knew that raising animals humanely, allowing them to do what is natural and intrinsic to them was a priority for us. But we wondered, humane means many different things to different people, what are the best standards to go by? When we discovered Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World we knew we had to apply. Their standards parallel our own ideas of what animal welfare is and they are very helpful when we have questions. Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a food label for meat and dairy products that come from farm animals raised to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. The program was founded as a market-based solution to the growing consumer demand for meat, eggs and diary products from animals treated with high welfare and managed with the environment in mind. The AWA program offers unbiased and independent audits to farms and meat processors to ensure Animal Welfare Approved standards are being met.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
In a nutshell, it is a way to produce healthy food while caring for the health of the planet. It is improved carbon cycling, or plants covering more area more times of the year to intake carbon from the atmosphere and bring it underground into the soil. We use farming and grazing practices that help reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity resulting in both the reduction of carbon entering the atmosphere and improved water cycling. We care just as much about the livestock growing underground as the livestock above ground. We want to support the "conversations" between the microbes and fungi and help create a healthy environment for these conversations to happen. Having living roots in the ground for longer periods of time throughout the year are necessary for organisms below ground to thrive. Research shows that extended rotations, minimal tillage, having a diversified landscape, planting cover crops, and grazing all help feed the soil living organisms that need to stay busy and hungry.
What do microbes have to do with food?
microbes help plants acquire nutrients
protect plants against pathogens and pests
help suppress disease
help plants defend themselves
help plants tolerate environmental stresses such as drought, flooding and salinity
The more microbes, the more nutrient dense and healthy the food is that is eaten by our animals.
Are you certified organic?
Yes, we are certified organic for our grains, but not for our animals. The organic standards for animal welfare lack in some areas we find important so we decided to certify with Animal Welfare Approved.
What are your farm goals?
We hope to continue to grow in size but we love balance. A good animal stocking density balanced with available land space is simply a good practice. Too many animals in too small of an area for a long period of time can lead to many different problems. As we transition more acres to organic, we increase our animal numbers slightly. It is a delicate balance. We do this because we want to practice what nature practices. We want healthy soils that can produce nutrient dense food and that can be resilient to torrential downpours and month long droughts. After all, it is soil that all life comes. We want to feed the livestock that live in our soils by giving them the things they need to stay active and healthy so that they can produce nutrient dense food.
We want to continue to be a diverse food farm, trying new things, create value-added products for our customers and build community. We believe that diversity leads to stability. We hope to one day create a collective of farmers on this farm that want to work and focus on an enterprise they are passionate about such as dairying, grazing, vegetable production, orcharding, mushroom production and more, and work together to create a unique food farm system that cultivates food, hard work, passion, community, and collaboration. And maybe, just maybe, open a restaurant that features all that Jóia Food Farm has to offer.
We continue to learn. There are always better ways of stewarding the land and growing food and so we continue to learn from farmer mentors, farmer peers, workshops, research, and literature. Farming is always changing, that is why it is so challenging but it is as every bit an enriching and enlivening way of life.
How do you treat sick animals?
Firstly, we take a preventative approach. With good management, rotational grazing, healthy soils, and proper diet and exercise we don't see many sick animals. In the case that one falls ill, we try holistic approaches first. We are fans of Dr. Paul's holistic health products. If our holistic approaches fail, we do use treatments such as antibiotics to help them and keep them from suffering. But be sure to know that we do not sell those animals for food and we give them a good dose of probiotics afterwards! We believe that our animals should age here on the farm. They deserve it. We simply do not bring animals to auctions.
Can I visit the farm?
Absolutely. Simply contact us for a farm tour. We'd love to show you around. And while you're here, you can pick up some food at our on-farm farm store. We also invite people from around the world who are interested in working on a diverse organic farm, to do a farm stay with us. We invite you to apply through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).