It’s 7am in early May and most of Pescadero is blanketed in coastal fog, but Dede Boies of Root Down Farm is well into her morning routine: letting chickens out of their coops, filling their feed troughs and setting up new pastures for the week’s grazing rotations. Named after a Beastie Boys music track, the farm raises organic, heritage breed chickens, turkeys and pigs across 15 acres, all of them housed in amenities designed to meet animal welfare specifications.
Photo 1: By raising pigs and poultry together on pasture, Dede leverages the symbiosis of animal husbandry to steward the land, leaving a year of rest between grazing rotations.
Photo 2: There’s a tenderness in Dede’s attitude towards her animals, especially with the pigs that spend 10 months on the farm before being harvested. “It’s hard to send them off to the processing facility when it’s time,” she admits. “But I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is supposed to be hard, because the more detached you are from the animals, the less you care for them. Knowing that this pain of separation is inevitable is what motivates me to provide for them as best as I can while they’re here.”
Photo 3: Sustainable farming for Dede goes beyond ensuring a respectable quality of life for her animals: It’s also about the choices she makes. Raising heritage breed poultry gives her the option of breeding successive generations on the farm if she wishes to, thereby reducing the farm’s dependence on other businesses.