We are excited to announce that we’ll be offering pasture-raised local chicken at our upcoming Flash Sale. If there is significant interest, we have plans to offer chicken on a more regular basis. Call us nerds if you want, but this is big news in our little local meat world!
We’re partnering with poultry producers, Ryan Batchelor and Joshua Futral (pictured here with Firsthand Foods Co-Founders Tina and Jennifer). Ryan and Joshua have been good friends since childhood and are now business partners who live and farm on family land in Onslow County. Both have off-farm jobs, so raising and selling chicken (and eggs) is a side enterprise that sparks their entrepreneurial spirit, engages their children and keeps farming alive as a family enterprise. Until three years ago, Joshua’s father raised confinement turkeys for a large-scale company. Says Joshua, “When I first told him we’d like to raise chickens outdoors on pasture, he thought we were crazy. But we’ve been able to demonstrate that people are willing to pay for chicken raised another way. So, he’s coming around.”
Determined to raise chickens outdoors on pasture, Ryan and Joshua began reading all about regenerative farming and turned to Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm for inspiration, a Virginia based producer who has shown generations of farmers how to profitably raise livestock outdoors on pasture. After experimenting with 300 chicks in 2021, Ryan and Joshua got serious in 2022 and purchased 1000 birds, raising them in a brooder box before transferring them to homemade chicken tractors.They plan to double that number in 2023. They’ve learned that they need to move their tractors daily to fresh pasture so the chickens have access to fresh grass and grubs to eat and so that their poop is evenly dispersed as a source of natural fertilizer. Ryan and Joshua have selected the cornish cross breed as the best tasting and most consistent to raise and have constructed an on-farm outdoor processing facility. They currently slaughter the birds themselves, taking advantage of fresh air and sunshine as natural sanitizers. The guys sell most of their products themselves under the brand Pasture to Plate and you can find them on Saturdays at the farmers market in Jacksonville.
We initially connected with Ryan and Joshua through the NC Natural Hog Growers Association, which as it turns out is their source for locally grown, non-GMO chicken feed. We were tickled by this connection and decided to sample their product. We each took home different cuts and some whole birds, paying careful attention to its taste and texture, the quality of fabrication and how well the product was packaged. The result? A resounding thumbs up all around. So, we’re excited to share this delicious product with you.
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