Happy 2022! This year we want to start strong by highlighting the amazing farmers that are essential to the work we do at CAFF. This month, we want to introduce you to Franchesca and Ryan Duval owners of Alchemist Farm. When asked, “Why did you join CAFF” Franchesca said’, “As the world shifts ecologically I see the extreme benefit of joining our voice with the voices of local farmers for a common good”. Together we go further in creating a more just, sustainable and diverse food system!
“We started raising chickens because we loved having chickens keep us company while we gardened. When we moved to a larger piece of land we were able to have a larger flock. I went to place my order for chicks with a large hatchery and found out that they killed all of their extra male chicks upon hatch. It was knowledge that hit me so hard in my heart, I knew I could not support it so I looked into hatching our own chicks. One hatch led to another and now we have a fully integrated humane chicken hatchery. We work with 14 breeds and select for robust health, sweet temperament, gorgeous egg color, and climate resilience.”
Proud & Challenging Moments
“Our greatest challenges have been working through the growing pains of building our farm and hatchery from scratch. With each expansion of our offerings we had to get creative with how we streamlined our chores, customer service and family time. Automating our water delivery system for the chickens and not carrying 5 gallon buckets of water everyday was a huge shift! We are finally in the place of finding our groove with the work family balance and it is an incredible experience.
Every business decision we made had the ecological betterment at the forefront of it and every “problem” we were presented with felt like an invitation to get creative so we did! Too many bags of chicken feed? Get a silo. Too much plastic waste in the shipping process of our chicks/hatching eggs? We found solutions to be plastic free and 100% biodegradable. Our proudest ecological moment was erecting a solar array that powers every aspect of the farm. Every chick hatched is hatched by clean solar energy. We are the only hatchery in the United States doing this currently and we hope to lead by example and inspire others in our industry to care for this beautiful planet we have been given.”
The Change They Hope to Be
Hope for the Future
In 50 years my husband and I will be well past our 80’s, if our children continue with the farm we will be there to guide them – if they have let the farm go we will hopefully rest knowing that we did everything we could to better the world around us. It is a daily practice, as new things to improve on ecologically are revealed we rise to the occasion. There are so many layers to the issues we all face, may we all meet the challenges with open hearts and creative minds.”