To say that Hayden Holbert of Avrom Farms uses sustainable farming practices is an understatement. He speaks of his farm as an agro-ecosystem, each living thing an instrument playing its piece in the harmonious song of the land as Holbert orchestrates.
“Every organism here has a job,” Hayden explains. “We move our chickens across pasture daily so they may take advantage of the nutrients provided by the land, and also fertilize the pasture for future growth. By moving the chickens to new pasture every day and encouraging them to forage amongst the diverse polyculture of plants and insects, the result is a fundamentally different chicken.”
Holbert raises Freedom Rangers, a heritage breed of chicken known for its ability to utilize pasture and succulent flavor. These breeds tend to be higher in yellow omega 3 fat and contain less saturated fat than faster growing commercial breeds.
Freedom Rangers were initially bred out of protest of the fast-growing, industrialized breed of chicken, the Cornish Cross. They come from Northern France as part of the Label Rouge movement, which is similar to the USDA Organic Standards, but has much more stringent regulations on animal welfare with a focus on small, diversified farms. In addition to their superior flavor, Freedom Rangers are equipped to thrive in the outdoors and transform grasses, bugs, and grain into highly nutritious food.
“Choosing chicken breeds that are slow-growing is an important part of producing chicken with extraordinary flavor,” Holbert explains. “A chicken that has taken longer to grow will have more complex proteins, antioxidants, and vitamins than the 5 week old turbo-charged chickens common throughout nearly every grocery store in the United States.”
Hayden has been raising his Freedom Rangers chickens, heritage pork and even vegetables and mushrooms since he took over the family farm a few years ago. The land has been in Holbert’s family since his grandfather purchased the property in the 1950s.
“I’ve known since the age of six that I wanted to be a farmer,” Hayden says. “I grew up in Chicago but spent many summers enjoying the country life. Driving tractors, taking care of livestock – so agriculture has always been a big part of my world.”
Thanks for all you do for the for the sustainable agriculture community, Hayden! And thanks for the fantastic chicken!