Saturday, July 16, 2016

A new breed of farmers ... and their hens

By Bob Gaydos
Becky Fullam and her hens
Photo by Bob Gaydos

Becky and Joe Fullam are among a new breed of farmers. She learned about sustainability in college. He decided he could use what he learned about mechanical engineering to operate a small-scale farm with her. Today, the young man from New Paltz and the young woman from Warwick, with an assist from the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, operate Old Ford Farm in Gardiner.
They use farming methods designed to promote the long-term health of the land and animals and the environment in general. The Fullams grow a variety of vegetables (the farm is not certified organic, but they say they follow organic methods strictly). They also raise pigs, cows and chickens.
Unlike the vast majority of chickens that are cooped up in this country, their 400 egg-laying hens (no roosters) have virtually free rein of a large pasture.
Becky gives two reasons: (1) “Hens enjoy the outdoors.” (2) “It makes sense ecologically.”
The hens’ manure revitalizes the pasture for the Fullams’ 10 cows, who, in turn, convert the grass into raw milk, which the farm is licensed by the state to sell.
The hens roam freely in a section of the pasture that is closed in by a portable netting fence that is electrified to protect them from predators, such as foxes. The hens are moved to a different portion of the pasture every week. A large trailer, which the hens can go in and out of freely, serves as a movable chicken house. It contains water, certified non-GMO grain, which is used to supplement the bugs and grasses on which the hens forage, and the nests in which they lay their eggs.
In return, the hens lay an average of one egg apiece each day, a little more during seasons with more daylight, a little less when light decreases. The eggs sell at the farm store year-round for $6 a dozen, which is a bit pricey compared to industry-produced eggs. Becky says, “Enough people know the difference in nutrition of the eggs (more omega 3s, Vitamins D and E), as well as the environmental impact and care about the welfare of the chickens” to make the price competitive.
What color eggs do the hens lay?
“Brown,” Becky says.
“Because that’s what people like.”
-- Bob Gaydos

About Old Ford Farm
  • Mailing Address: 1359 Old Ford Rd. New Paltz, NY 12561.
  • Visitors are welcome. To set up a visit:
-- 845-220-7819
  • Farm store: Self-serve and open 24/7 every day. Available: Raw milk (licensed by New York state), vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, all from the farm. Plus other products from other local producers.
  • CSA (community supported agriculture): Sold out this year. Sign up for next year starts in fall. Not a one-size-fits-all plan. See website for details.
  • Website:

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