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Inedible Agriculture

August 29, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost people don’t give too much thought to the agriculture that isn’t food. If they do, it’s often with a condescending view of what is and is not food in their opinion. Truly inedible agriculture is overlooked, and yet bigger than most of us think.

You’re headed to see someone special and pick up flowers to convey affection. Inedible agriculture. Someone grew them.

Remember the icy cold last winter? Snuggling down into a down jacket or comforter took the chill away. Inedible agriculture. The down, from geese and ducks, is not an edible part of things, but is no less agriculture.

How about decorative gourds? Hand made soaps? Tallow or beeswax candles? All inedible agriculture.

That beautiful wool sweater, angora shawl or mohair scarf…the cotton shirts that make summer bearable…smaller markets of flax and hemp – all of these things are inedible agriculture.

Feathers, fur, grapevines and many other examples – inedible agriculture.

The agriculture we eat has much awareness, but that which isn’t eaten is often forgotten from the ears of corn for squirrels to the hay for fall decorations and straw for the dog’s doghouse. Someone grew it. Someone provided it for you to buy.

kittyfeathercraftSome of these things can be considered byproducts. For example, our craft furs (for sale salted or made into decorations) are not prime furs that come from fryer rabbits used for meat. Intestines are composted, making use of the entire rabbit. Although we haven’t yet marketed goose or duck down, that is in the future as we get to selling more duck and goose meat.

Angora fiber is plucked or shorn from rabbits kept for that fiber. Recently I saw an article about comparisons between two major competitors in the down market and setting standards to make for more humane care of the ducks and geese providing the down. While we collect feathers naturally shed for most crafts, we will be setting clear standards of our own, which is something that, admittedly, I haven’t thought much about.

Making the most of these things means we can not charge quite as much for meats. It’s why we beg, promote, advertise, push the craft items too because it helps *and* gives handmade craft items for the home. As costs rise, expenses rise and paychecks get tighter, these inedible agriculture sales mean a lot to us.

Being clear in word and photos can be one part, but having policies clearly posted is something that will be done soon. Policies are in place, just hadn’t been posted online. From compost to birds to rabbits and even the songbirds that have entrusted us near their babies – it matters.

Although we sell direct, not to a big dealer, it’s a concern with many that the animal had a good life. Our rabbits have good feed, water, shelter, care regularly but some might think oh but the meat rabbits are different. Not so – they’re still cared for. Indeed one of the projects (pending funds!) is a meat bunny oasis, with room to move, plenty of hay free choice, water, pellets, things to play on…and one bad day they don’t see coming. They are fed and cared for just like our show rabbits and purebreds  – which enables clean coats to use that fur as well as the meat. Making the most of each animal is where the down consideration comes in…we will in the future have some down items.

After all, inedible agriculture is important too.

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