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Local farmer promotes regenerative methods | Local | huntingdondailynews.com – huntingdondailynews.com

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Ivan, 10, left to right, Henrik, 8, and Bruce Whittaker stock the new Separate Peace Farm store their dad, Bob Whittaker, recently opened on Hartslog Valley Road in Porter Township.

Ivan, 10, left to right, Henrik, 8, and Bruce Whittaker stock the new Separate Peace Farm store their dad, Bob Whittaker, recently opened on Hartslog Valley Road in Porter Township.
One area farmer is taking his Porter Township beef cattle operation a step beyond organic to sell his “regeneratively farmed” products at a new roadside stand.
Separate Peace Farm owner Bob Whittaker said regenerative farming is a method that puts more nutrients back into the soil than it takes out. He said this method is also more beneficial for the animal’s wellbeing.
“We’re trying to do the right thing for the animals, the people and the environment. So, we’re trying to make all those things meet to get a healthy product. We’re wanting to provide, within our community, a healthy option where they’re not going to get their meat at Walmart or something where you have no ability to track where it’s coming from,” said Whittaker.
Whittaker started his beef cattle operation as a more conventional farm, but said in the last 10 years he’s begun shifting to regenerative. He said that using fields for pasture helps restore nutrients that have been lost by farming or erosion, and also helps lock more carbon into the soil to help fight climate change.
They rotate their cattle on roughly six neighboring farms to fertilize the pastures without depleting any one patch of land.
“They have a lot of impact on (a field) at one time, but then it kind of recuperates. That’s kind of the principle we’ve been following,” said Whittaker.
He said this has improved farming conditions, and provides for healthier meat than the large, industrial scale meat products that make their way to most grocery stores.
Whittaker said most of their business was direct to consumer sales. He would sell halves and quarters of beef to a few customers. Now, he’s opened up his own farm store to expand his operation.
In early February, he opened up a self-service location across the street from his farm on Hartslog Valley Road in Porter Township. He was met with a passionate response from customers, and said he has had a hard time keeping his shelves stocked. He sells mostly beef right now, along with chicken and eggs that are all farmed under similar conditions. He’s hoping to expand in the future to offer pork as well.
Whittaker said that by selling direct to local consumers, it also reduces the overall carbon footprint by removing the need to ship products across the country. It also allows him to keep his prices for grass-fed beef at a lower rate that he says is cheaper than grass-fed labeled beef that’s available at a grocery store.
Whittaker said one of his biggest issues has been expanding the way people shop for beef. He said most folks are only interested in one or two parts of the beef, and neglect some of the other cuts that are available.
“There’s only so many Delmonicos on an animal. I told some folks as soon as I can figure out how to turn one animal into one big walking Delmonico then I’ll have it all figured out,” said Whittaker.
He said he’s hoping to offer more farm tours in the future as well. There’s recently been a trend of folks who want to know more about their food.
“We’re constantly trying to educate people on this whole thing, and there’s definitely much more of a disconnect from agriculture in the last generation,” said Whittaker. “Growing up on a farm, I didn’t ever think people would be that interested in it, but it seems like there’s kind of a paradigm shift there where they want to know where their food is coming from, and they also like to know there’s a positive environmental benefit.”
Whittaker said he hopes to put more back into the soil to create a positive impact for his business, but also for his children.
“They’re the generation that’s going to take this beyond me,” said Whittaker. “It does have to be profitable or the next generations are not going to want to do it. So, people have to be willing to pay for that, and understand the whole system, and how important it is.”
Haldan can be reached at [email protected].
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Considerable cloudiness. Occasional rain showers this afternoon. High 67F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%..
Clearing skies after some evening rain. Low 41F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.
Updated: March 24, 2022 @ 9:31 am
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