Situated about six miles north-west of Galt, California, Kingbird Farms is a 5-acre mixed farm, adjacent to the 46,000-acre Cosumnes River Preserve. The Preserve is an important wildlife habitat and is home to numerous migratory birds, such as the Western Kingbird—a grey and yellow songbird that is abundant on the property from April to September, and from which the farm takes its name.
Mike Eaton and Charity Kenyon, the farm’s owners, bought the property in 2000. It wasn’t until 2010, when Mike, a lifelong gardener, retired from a career in wildlife conservation and was able to begin farming full-time. In 2012, Charity retired from a legal practice that focused on media, appellate, and environmental law and was able to join him. Now, in addition to the farm’s fruit orchard and vegetable crops, Mike and Charity maintain a large native plant insectary and pastures for their AWA-certified laying hens.
Kingbird Farms follows a few core principles: build and manage soil for the long term; co-exist harmoniously with their plant, animal, and insect neighbors on the Cosumnes River Preserve; and grow the most nutritious produce possible. Raising the farm’s flock of rare Buckeye chickens on pasture, Mike and Charity put these principles into practice by benefiting not only their chickens and the environment, but also their customers, who enjoy healthy and delicious eggs. “We’ve noted that free-ranging, pastured chickens prefer to forage for their food and we appreciate their predominantly natural diet for egg flavor and nutritional qualities,” says Mike. “We’re looking for that ‘sweet spot’ where our flock is using most, but not all, of the available natural forage.”
AWA certification of the farm’s 60 laying hens verifies that Mike and Charity are raising their chickens according to the most stringent high-welfare practices. “We saw immediately that we were mostly qualified for AWA certification, with a few exceptions,” Mike explains. “Once we understood the problems with these practices it was obvious that we should make the necessary changes. We hope that our AWA certification will enable us to connect with customers who value our eggs and to reinforce the fact that we are fully committed to humane and sustainable farming practices.”
When they aren’t farming, Charity is deeply involved in Slow Food Sacramento and Mike sits on the boards of Valley Vision, the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps, and Soil Born Farms, among others. While Mike and Charity have plans to grow their chicken flock further, and are constantly striving to make the farm more sustainable, these days they’re thinking more about transitioning the farm to other, younger farmers, as opposed to any long-term expansion.
Kingbird Farms’ pasture-raised eggs are available through their CSA and web-based “farm stand.” They also sell eggs to Magpie Café in Sacramento. To find out more about the farm—or to inquire about purchasing eggs—visit www.kingbirdfarms.com or contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 810-8388. Read their fascinating blog at http://www.kingbirdjournal.com/.