~ Localization in the Tampa Bay Area ~
The Dirt on Farmer Stoltzfoos
looking for ways to reduce my fuel consumption,” said Stoltzfoos, who
makes weekly deliveries to Gainesville, Ocala, Dade City, Tampa, Bradenton,
and Orlando. He is pleased that his Orlando truck runs on vegetable oil
He moves his cows and eggmobile to young grass daily, providing fresh shoots for the cows, fresh bugs and worms for the chicken, and fresh fertilizer for the pasture. Nothing in wasted. “The high quality green grass that grows behind the eggmobiles is phenomenal,” Stoltzfoos says. His egg layers are gorgeous free-range Rhode Island reds.
Stoltzfoos’s grass-fed Jerseys give only a gallon or two of nutrient-dense milk a day, less than the 5-10 gallons factory cows produce. That’s why his milk costs more.
In the South, the wild pig, a pest, accounts for $50 million annually in crop loss. Local hunters kill hundreds every year and plow them under. “They throw them away!” Stoltzfoos is indignant. He understands that acorns and wild roots make nutrient-dense meat. But is it tasty? He asked the hunters for a sample. “It is incredible,” he said. Now he purchases wild pig from the hunters, pays his butcher to process it, and makes a small profit, to boot. Wild pig adds to the community’s economy. “It’s a sweet deal,” Stoltzfoos said.
On the way to visit the butchers, we stopped at the Luraville Country Store, a picturesque gas station with the original, now inoperative 1930 hand pumps. Inside, I scanned the shelves, finding only the ubiquitous junk food available at any Interstate quick stop.
“Do you carry anything local?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” the clerk asked.
I told Stoltzfoos it was a pity that no one in the hamlet was interested in organic, and that this independently-owned shop offered the same products as chain stores.
Stoltzfoos nodded. “I’m not friendly to Walmart. They don’t believe in workers’ health, and they don’t believe in fair trade.”
At dinner, I ate the delicious pot roast on faith. “Grain fed beef are fed wheat. That’s gluten,” Stoltzfoos theorized. “You’ll do better on grass fed.” Could corn and wheat in the cows’ diet explain my problem digesting beef? They did. I have no problems with grass fed beef.
At sunrise the next morning, I help Stoltzfoos milk cows. He brought them in from the field and introduced them by name. Then he wiped their udders to stimulate their let down reflex and milked. My job was to bottle milk and shoo off cats.
Breakfast was eggs, kefir, and wild pig sausage. The sausage was terrific, made with only lean wild pig, salt, and unrefined cane sugar. Like Stoltzfoos, I have a high metabolism and tend to hypoglycemia. I noted how few carbohydrates he ate, and I vowed to eat fewer myself.
A hard frost had killed the Stoltzfoos’s peach crop. A neighbor who had saved his invited us over to pick. Farmers are like that. We came home with a couple of bushels, and we began paring peaches for ice cream.
A neighbor stopped by. New to organic farming, he had lost half his Cornish Cross hens to heat stroke. Stoltzfoos went out to commiserate and to mentor. Farmers are like that. The neighbor had moved from New York to start a 55 plus campground. When that didn’t fly, he turned to organic farming. “Their property is very interesting,” Alicia said.
A leader among regional farmers, Stoltzfoos hosts seminars and get-togethers with national speakers. The next big event will be a shindig at the farm on September 20. The speakers are Greg Judy, author of No Risk Ranching and holistic veterinarian Dr. Will Winter. There’s sure to be grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, wild pig sausage, and homemade ice cream.
One night on the farm, after dinner and chores, the family gathered to jump on the trampoline: Mom, Dad, Lily, Caroline, and even Stella. It was a joy to watch.
I respect this farmer. He is living his mission of helping people regain their lives and their families. By investing in his land, eating with his family, and spending quality time with them, Stoltzfoos is the change he wants to see in the world.
My quest was accomplished. I had found a source for quality meat. I drove home with full coolers and the knowledge that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
For more information:
To learn about organic grass-fed beef, check out eatwild.com
To contact Stoltzfoos, email: email@example.com