Brandon Chonko is a smart, straight-talking farmer who began raising poultry out of the simple desire to provide clean, wholesome food for his family. He spent his childhood in Stone Mountain, and in college he majored in history. What started as a simple backyard garden grew into an organic, sustainable, pastured poultry operation called GrassRoots Farms that serves consumers in Georgia and South Carolina. At our conference next month he’ll be leading a Saturday session called “Pastured Poultry: An Old-School New Business.” He’ll cover genetics, feed, soil-fertilization, and other topics pertinent to anyone who wants to succeed in organic pastured poultry. For more about Brandon, his family, and his birds, check out his Instagram or Twitter.
Chonko will be speaking at the 17th Annual Georgia Organics Conference, Green Acres, Saving the Planet One Bite at a Time, which will be held on Feb. 21-22 at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.
On Conventional Poultry
The conventional model focuses on producing meat quickly and efficiently. Neither of which is bad. But perhaps it’s been taken to extremes. I think we can learn a lot from the conventional industry as we strive to perfect our production models. After all, conventional poultry was born out of old timey range poultry.
On Pastured Poultry
Pastured birds have very high welfare. The waste is recycled back into the pasture as fertilizer. I believe the taste is superior, and it’s a food I can believe in and stand behind.
My operation is composed of structures built by one man with a drill, screws, lumber, and wire. Yes, theoretically it can all be moved, but it wouldn’t be pleasant. It can all be rebuilt fairly easily though. I moved the entire farm to south Georgia from north Georgia. My brother helped. It was awful, but we did it. I’ve added plumbing and heating and really expanded, but we do rent currently. We are shopping for a permanent piece of land so we will have to move one final time. If we were doing organic vegetables I would have spent so much time building the soil that it may be hard to leave. Livestock is more transferable from parcel to parcel.
On Social Media
I use social media to market. It’s highly effective. In my situation it really helps to show people not only what you do, but who you are. I stopped trying to be the super polished and just started being myself.