Some of you may know that in addition to raising poultry, I’m also a Professor of Business. One of my favorite concepts in business is the social enterprise. The idea is that the business model is equally effective at addressing social issues as it is at creating profit (think ‘TOMS’). One of our goals for Sunbird Farms has been to incorporate a social enterprise effort into the operation. Preserving and providing heirloom foods in a fast-food market is a social effort, but we wanted to have a more direct impact.
Enter: walnut harvesting. As the end of the season was wrapping up, we had several individuals working to clean up the rows, stacking and hauling away the broken limbs and branches (walnut trees are mechanically shook, hard enough to make the ground feel like a 3.0 tremor). It was at this time that I was approached by one of the workers and asked if I sold any of our chickens. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but when I said our Orpingtons can go for as much as $150, I could see that “these were not the chickens he was looking for…” Lupe clarified that his mother loved to cook with chicken and would often buy birds at the local swap meet.
Apparently birds are sold at the swap meet for about $10 a piece, clearly a different market than we’re used to. But this was a wonderful opportunity. Many people come to us looking for specific breeds, and a large part of those people tend to be “city folk” who can only have hens. The problem is, nature has about a 50/50 program when it comes to hatching hens and roosters…go figure. In the cases where we are able to sell just hens (not our preference), we are often left with the odd rooster (no one ever comes around looking for just roosters…imagine that). Lupe was the answer. Now we are able to offer Lupe, and his family and friends, chickens that are raised in the healthiest manner, at a price he can afford. We get to put some higher quality food into the lives of people that may not always have access to it. A total blessing, or as Michael Scott would say…”a win, win, win.” Lupe’s family wins, Sunbird Farms wins, and the food system wins.