Erica & Joel started Free Union Grass Farm in 2010, raising just 600 broiler chickens, 6 cows, 50 laying hens, and 2 pigs on 13 acres of family land. 2016 is their 7th season in production, and their operation has expanded to many neighboring pastures and a satellite farm. These days they raise and rotate 6000 broilers, 2000 ducks, 700 laying hens, 50 cows, and 40 pigs on over 300 acres in Albemarle County, VA. They direct market everything at farmer’s markets, on the farm, and to restaurants, gourmet food stores, small grocers, and local inns. They’ve also hosted hundreds of visitors at their bustling AirBnB farmhouse.


Pre-Conference Workshop: Pastured Duck Production from Start to Finish

This intensive overview of our pastured duck operation will cover every step of production, from day old ducklings to dressed, packaged meat birds. We’ll discuss in depth the ins and outs of brooder care, field production, and the biggest challenge: processing. Also included is a demo on breaking down a whole bird into primals to increase your margins. While this workshop can be enjoyed by the farmer novice, it will be a real boon for those with existing operations looking to break into the duck market.

Conference Session: The Nomad: Pastured Poultry Production

Necessity is the mother of invention. When our hatchery shipped us an extra 200 birds but our pasture pens were full, we were forced to try a new method. We now use our “Nomad” poultry system exclusively for both broilers and ducks. In this session we’ll cover meat bird production from day-old chick to dressed, packaged bird, focusing primarily on field care and equipment needs.

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