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Chick Magnet: Why Starting a Poultry Farm is Like Starting a Band (But Harder)

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page and our All About Organics page.

Like many Americans, Paul Glowaski, Molly Nakahara, and Cooper Funk have farming in their families. Nakahara's great-grandparents, Japanese immigrants, farmed in California's Salinas Valley until being sent to internment camps during World War II. Funk's extended family has a 2,000-acre farm in the Central Valley. And Glowaski's grandfather farmed in Indiana. "He raised corn in the '70s and '80s, and they would stir the pesticide with their hands," Glowaski says. "He died of pancreatic cancer, and probably lots of other farmers did too."

With these stark pieces of farming history in mind, the three friends started Dinner Bell Farm, a place where, Glowaski says, "everyone is treated humanely, from the animals to the plants to the people." The farm specializes in organic, pasture-raised heritage poultry, but also offers peppers, greens, okra, strawberries, and wedding flowers, and they've started raising sheep and hogs, too.

"We're trying to create a real dynamic, diversified system, where the animals are working in conjunction with our vegetables, fruit, and flowers," Glowaski says.

The 33-year-old Glowaski met Nakahara, 32, and Funk, 33, in the agroecology program at the University of California-Santa Cruz - one of the preeminent places to study organic farming in the nation. Realizing they had similar long-term goals, they began plans for what they called "Dream Farm," a working farm that would not only feed people, but also provide education and training. They searched for land while working day jobs - Funk as a carpenter, Nakahara running a high school garden, and Glowaski at the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.