Dig into Joyce Farms' Regenerative Agriculture program that restores the land and enhances the quality of our heritage meat and poultry.

Rooted in Pursuit of Flavor

Our regenerative journey began as a quest to produce the most flavorful and high-quality meats, using time-honored techniques and old-world breeds. Little did we know, these methods would align perfectly with the principles of regenerative agriculture, offering benefits far beyond taste and quality.

Regenerative Agriculture is a farming method that relies on nature, not harsh chemicals or disruptive practices like tilling. It offers a multitude of benefits for our farms, our environments, and our food.

Long before regenerative agriculture became a popular term, Joyce Farms was already pioneering its principles. Our mission to produce the best meat and poultry led us to adopt traditional farming techniques that worked in conjunction with Mother Nature.

Initially, these methods were chosen to best support our heritage breeds, which thrive under natural conditions similar to those of their ancestors. But we later discovered that practices we had in place, like adaptive grazing and maintaining plant diversity, naturally aligned with what would be defined as regenerative agriculture.

It turned out these practices were not just helping to improve the quality of our products; they were also contributing positively to the environment, small family farmers, animal welfare, and human health.

Better Soil, Better Food

Joyce Farms' Honest with Nature™ Regenerative Agriculture program produces flavorful, nutritious proteins for our Heritage line, while protecting animal welfare and benefiting the environment. The foundation of our success? Healthy soil.

A single spoonful of healthy soil contains more life than there are humans on Earth.

Healthy food comes from healthy soil, but years of industrial farming have left most of our country's soil over-tilled, over-fertilized, exposed, eroded, and treated with chemicals. The soil is depleted, making it difficult to grow plants and causing farmers to rely more on chemical inputs.

We cannot continue to abuse our soil. Instead, we must revive and restore it through regenerative agriculture.

The Hidden Costs of Industrial Agriculture

Most food in America today is produced through industrial agriculture. This method is characterized by large-scale cultivation of single crops, extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the confinement of animals in high-density facilities.

While industrial agriculture has been effective in generating large food supplies at low cost, it has also introduced significant threats to the future of our food and overall well-being, including:

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ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION:

Drought, desertification, runoff, and biodiversity loss.

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UNHEALTHY FOOD:

Decreased nutritional value of food, increased toxicity, and antibiotic resistance.

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ECONOMIC CHALLENGES:

Marginalization of small family farms, which now use only 8% of all agricultural land.

These impacts highlight the unsustainable nature of industrial agriculture and the need for more responsible farming practices.

Regenerative Agriculture: A Better Way Forward

On our network of small family farms where our heritage animals are raised, we have moved beyond sustainable farming to follow regenerative practices. This method not only sustains but also improves the health of our land and food systems. Regenerative agriculture builds soil health and enhances ecosystem diversity, working with the land to restore natural cycles and produce nutrient-dense plants that nourish our animals and, ultimately, us.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Icon of a yellow lightbulb with a check mark inside, symbolizing the first principle of regenerative agriculture: importance of understanding and being aware of your context.
Icon of an orange tractor with a red circle and diagonal line over it, symbolizing regenerative agriculture principle #2: no tilling
Icon of a gray container labeled 'NPK' with a black diagonal line crossing over it, symbolizing regenerative agriculture principle #3: avoidance of chemical inputs
Icon of green grass, representing the 4th regenerative agriculture principle: biodiversity
Icon of two brown cattle grazing, symbolizing regenerative agriculture principle #5: integration of livestock

Regenerative agriculture isn't a one-size-fits-all approach with strict rules or formulas. It requires farmers and ranchers to apply key principles to their unique operations.

On our farms, we use these principles to guide decisions, so that they align with the natural processes of the ecosystem. Here's a little more about each principle:

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KNOW YOUR CONTEXT

Understanding Your Farm's Unique Ecosystem

Understanding the unique characteristics of each farm's ecosystem is crucial. Not every farm is the same. The landscape, regional weather patterns, soil make up, and native animal, as well as plant species all have an influence on the farm’s ecosystem. Understanding how the land was previously managed or inhabited can shed light on how to begin the transition from an industrial or sustainable farm to a regenerative one. What works on one farm may not work on another, so the techniques used will vary according to the specific needs of that land.

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NO TILLING

Protecting Soil Structure and Microbial Life

Tilling is degenerative. No-till farming is regenerative.

Many farmers till their land between plantings to "fluff" the soil, mix in oxygen, and increase water infiltration. However, tilling actually harms the soil. It disrupts the network of fragile microbes, decreases water infiltration due to soil compaction, and releases excess carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere, contributing to climate instability. Instead of tilling, we use a roller-crimper, which rolls over existing plant life, protecting the soil from extreme temperatures. As this plant life decomposes, it adds biomass to the soil, feeding the microbiology and aiding seed germination for the next season.

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NO CHEMICAL INPUTS

Eliminating Harmful Chemicals for Natural Resilience

Reliance on chemical inputs is degenerative. Avoidance of chemical inputs is regenerative.

Chemical inputs like herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and synthetic fertilizers degrade soil health. They alter soil pH, degrade its structure, and increase dependency on these chemicals, leading to higher costs for farmers and pollution of water sources. Regenerative agriculture eliminates the need for these chemicals by relying on healthy soil to support thriving ecosystems. We use natural methods to reduce our use of chemical inputs, manage weeds, and enhance soil fertility, such as leveraging beneficial plant species and soil microbes to provide nutrients.

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DIVERSITY

Promoting Biodiversity for Healthier Soil

Perpetual monocultures are degenerative. Diverse plant life is regenerative.

In agriculture, a monoculture is the practice of growing one crop species in a field at a time, like those rows and rows of corn or soybeans that we’re all accustomed to seeing when we drive past farmland. A monoculture crop isn’t the problem in and of itself, but what’s harmful is what we call a perpetual monoculture – that is, when a single crop is grown and harvested, the land is then tilled and left bare before planting yet another monoculture crop. The land becomes starved for diversity.

On our farms, when a monoculture crop has been planted and harvested, and rolled down with our roller crimper, a diverse cover crop is planted to feed the soil microbiology before the next cycle. Our livestock pastures are also filled with diversity. For example, the poultry pastures at our Poulet Rouge® Chicken farms are seeded with a multi species mix of spring oats, triticale, ryegrass, winter pea, crimson clover, vetch, daikon radish, and T-Raptor hybrid, a bulbless brassica that provides very leafy growth, regrows very well after harvest or grazing, and has prolific taproots that mine deep into the soil for moisture and nutrients.

The more diversity in plant species there is on the farm, the more diverse the soil microbiology becomes. Diverse soil microbiology increases nutrient density in plants that supports nutrient-rich meat in animals that later translates into natural flavor that’s better for human health.

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ANIMAL INTEGRATION

Integrating Livestock to Mimic Natural Ecosystems

Removing livestock from farming is degenerative. Biomimicry through animal integration is regenerative.

Confining livestock in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or removing them from the farming process eliminates their benefits to the farm ecosystem. Integrating livestock through adaptive grazing mimics natural processes. At Joyce Farms, we rotate cattle and pigs across pastures, simulating the movement of wild herds. This rotation allows animals to graze and trample plants, providing natural soil armor and fertilization. Adaptive grazing subdivides large pastures into smaller paddocks, with animals rotated through them, allowing grass and forage to regenerate in previously grazed areas. This practice recreates natural ecosystems, promoting soil health and reducing the negative impacts of modern agriculture.

OUTCOMES OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Icon of brown soil with small black dots, representing the creation of healthy, nutrient-rich soil through regenerative agriculture.
Icon of three blue water droplets, representing the outcome of cleaner water through regenerative agriculture practices.
Icon of a red heart and a cow, symbolizing improved animal welfare as an outcome of regenerative agriculture practices.
Icon of a gray cloud with 'CO2' written inside and downward arrows, symbolizing the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as an outcome of regenerative agriculture.
Icon featuring various elements such as a blue globe, green leaves, a yellow sun, a blue water droplet, and animals like a fox, bird, snake, and worm, representing the restoration of ecosystems through regenerative agriculture.
Icon of a green leafy vegetable and a red steak, representing the production of healthier food as an outcome of regenerative agriculture.
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