Operating Organically: Transporting Chickens by School Bus

Nov 12, 2015

There are more than 600 certified organic farms in Iowa, and many others using organic and sustainable practices. Doug Darrow produces beef and chicken near Oxford at Rapid Creek Ranch. He started to make the transition from conventional farming to more sustainable practices after a woman approached him at a farmer’s market.

I had a lady come up to me at a market and asked if we sold grass-fed beef, and I said no. She said that if we did, she’d buy all her beef from us. That really struck a chord,” he explains.

We took all the seats out and put nest boxes on one side and perches on the other side. We call it their summer quarters. - Doug Darrow

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Darrow about the transition on his farm and the chickens he transports around his cow pastures in a converted RAGBRAI school bus.

“We found it through a RAGBRAI group that was upgrading their bus," Darrow explains. "We took all the seats out and put nest boxes on one side and perches on the other side. We call it their summer quarters. It takes them about a week to get trained to get on the bus after dark.”

Ty Gustafson, co-owner of Story City Locker also joins the conversation to talk about how small meat processors operate differently than large meat packing plants. While both use many organic practices, they’ve chosen not to seek USDA organic certification. Nebbe talks with them about that decision as well.

To end this hour, Sarah Foltz Jordan of the Xerces Society and Andy Dunham, co-owner of Grinnell Heritage Farms, talk with Nebbe about biodiversity and the importance of attracting native bugs to the farm.

All guests included in this program are a part of the 15th Annual Organics Conference taking place in Iowa City later this month. Find more information about that here.