Posts Tagged 'chickens'

Proud to announce: Rachel’s Eggs ranked 4th by Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute recently updated their Organic Egg Scorecard. Our certified organic Rachel’s Eggs have been ranked 4th among over 120 farms across the nation, with 2160 of a possible 2200 points and a “5-egg” rating (2001-2200): “Exemplary”—Beyond Organic!

Here’s the link to their latest report; http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/

click here to see OUR scorecard, with 100 points in 19 of 22 categories!

Our assortment of heritage breed hens rotate around our farm’s avocado grove in their chicken tractors, a bottomless pen designed to keep them safe from predators. They’re moved at least twice a week to fresh pasture, where they scratch around for goodies. They’re supplemented with certified organic, soy-free, non-GMO feed. During the wintertime, our eggs are snapped up as add-on egg shares by our CSA members, with a waiting list. Between mid-April and October, when the CSA isn’t operating, anyone can purchase our eggs though our ‘summer offers’ program.

Our other local organic egg producer, PNS Farms, who we mentored a few years back, has a 5 rating as well, with 2120 points out of 2200. Our CSA members also enjoy their eggs.

…aaaand, we’re BACK!

After a dormancy approaching 2 years (really? really!! time flies!), I realized it’s time to crank up this blog again – just in time for the new season.  We didn’t REALLY fall off the face of the earth. We’ve continued to send out emails, and have been active on Facebook, with some Tweeting thrown in from time to time, but I know that a number of our fans don’t “do” Facebook, not everyone is on our email list, and many don’t appreciate being bombarded with constant emails. So, I’m brushing off the rust, oiling the gears…ready to blog it!

Lots of things have happened in the intervening months. It’s the cycle of  life on a farm – preparing, planting crops, weeding, harvesting, selling, delivering, removing, recharging, then starting all over again. And in between each one, there’s weeding, dealing with unexpected stuff – sometimes good, sometimes not – more weeding, and in the summer, mowing and mowing and mowing – oh, and weeding! Then somewhere in the mix, throw in a crop of baby chicks to replenish the flock, after decimation by coyote and feral dogs… yep, life on the farm is NEVER boring.

Bee Heaven Farm collage

Last year on the farm

We saw new markets start, and others die out. The Homestead Market at Losner Park and the Overtown Market on 10th Street did not return in 2011-2012, and were sorely missed. But the slightly less hectic pace let us concentrate on the Pinecrest Gardens Green Market, where we had a great season. We’ll be back in Pinecrest in December.

Last year we started using Farmigo’s  CSA software system. We’ve fully automated our CSA enrollment process and are now able to offer more flexibility with share options and payment plans. In the summertime, when the CSA isn’t running and we don’t sell at the farmers market, we’ve always had a prepaid system (open to anyone) to order seasonal summer items – mainly tropical fruit. We implemented Farmigo’s webstore functions for this, and expanded our summer pickup locations to include the Upper Eastside Market, where our more northerly customers could pick up their orders without having to schlep down to Joanna’s Marketplace in the Dadeland area or to the farm in Redland. That’s worked out really well!

Our CSA options expanded last year, with the discovery of locally-grown Sem-Chi certified organic rice right in the Clewiston area barely 100 miles from the farm, and the debut of local salt farmers Midge & Tom with their Florida Keys Sea Salt. As more local organic (or pesticide-free) producers come online, we continue to develop additional stability and more variety in the shares.  We’re always looking for new crops, too. We have an amazing opportunity in South Florida to explore tropical food crops not available in the rest of mainland USA, and we’re all about that! Of course, Mother Nature always has the last word.

…see you around!

Cornucopia Institute posts Miami Herald article- Bee Heaven owner: Organic farming is good for the foodie — and the land

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via Bee Heaven Owner: Organic farming is good for the foodie — and the land.

Rachel’s Eggs

variety of eggsOnce you get used to cooking and eating truly fresh eggs from chickens that live on grass and eat bugs, there is no going back. They are so beautiful and inspiring to have in the fridge. The CSA is starting in less than 2 weeks and the majority, if not all, of the eggs will be going out to many families throughout South Florida. I will miss them and I hope you really enjoy them!

Chickens and Groves, stacking enterprises

All around the farm in Homestead and the Redland area it is full of groves, primarily Avocado groves, but also Mango and a few other tropical fruit. 99% of them are not organic and use herbicides to keep the weeds down under the trees and in the pathways. As you drive around the area you can see block after block of fenced in groves with brown deadness underneath them. All I can think is what a waste of space and what a shame that they are regularly putting down hundreds of pounds of chemicals into the ground and into the aquifer that all of our farms depend on.

chicken tractors in between avocado trees at Bee Heaven Farm

chicken tractors in between avocado trees at Bee Heaven Farm

Chickens and groves are like peas and carrots. There is plenty of research, experience and literature supporting the many facets of the symbiotic relationship between these two enterprises. At Bee Heaven Farm we have 10 chicken tractors fertilizing and mowing our 2 acres of Avocado groves while simultaneously laying eggs for us to sell. Inside each tractor, which is basically a bottomless metal chicken coop with wheels, live 7 to 10 chickens. They get moved to a fresh patch of grass twice a week making their way down the pathways between rows of Avocado trees (and in

mowed and fertilized path left behind as the tractor is moved

mowed and fertilized path left behind as the tractor is moved

some sections Mango, Longan and Lychee trees). This system works very well for many reasons. It is very easy and quick to maintain; it takes only a few minutes to refill feed and water as well as move each one. The chickens are laying delicious/nutritious eggs with bright and firm yolks because they get a daily diet of grass and bugs along with their organic feed. As the tractors are moved along they leave behind a weed free path and the chicken manure that is also left behind serves as a balanced fertilizer for the fruit trees. Using this system a farmer can produce two different products to sell on the same acreage.

In my opinion, all of the conventional groves in the area could be raising eggs or chicken meat using this system and instead of spending money on chemicals they could be making twice as much money on the same amount of land.


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