Tag Archives: organic

A Visit To Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms

September 1st, 2014

If you’ve been to the Farmstead lately, you’ve likely met our friendly Retail Manager, Jackie Parr.  Jackie and her husband, Will, are passionate about local, organic farming and are on the path to having their own farm in the very near future.  Here’s a memorable experience Jackie had recently that she wanted to share with you…

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Basketball has Michael Jordan. Golf has Tiger Woods. Filmmakers have Steven Spielberg. Every profession has icons, a person that you look up to and associate with being the absolute best in their field. Even physicians and holistic care practitioners have people like Dr. Oz and Andrew Weil.  For those who have chosen to take the path to become sustainable farmers, Joel Salatin is that name.

Joel-4-200x300Joel Salatin is truly an icon for sustainable farming and one of our Urban Acres heroes.   His 550-acre family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Polyface, is featured prominently in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and the documentary films, Food, Inc. and Fresh.  In the last few years through our Steward’s Dinners, we’ve been able to build a wonderful relationship with Joel.  He was even present at our Farmstead ribbon cutting ceremony in January.  Sought-after author, public speaker, locavore, and full time farmer, Joel has been an inspiration to many, from the beginning farmer to the everyday American wanting to become more intimate with their food sources.

Joel cutting the ribbon

Joel cutting the ribbon

So, you can imagine how excited we were when my husband, Will, was selected to spend the summer at Polyface for their summer internship program.  Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to visit Will and see the farm. What an incredible experience!  Aside from the tranquility that’s found outside the hustle and bustle of the city, there was a certain positive energy I felt there. Things just felt right at Polyface. Everything appeared balanced and synergized.

Polyface Sign

Jackie and her husband Will representing Oak Cliff and UA at Polyface :)

We parked by the farm store on the property and started our personalized tour of the farm. We started near the greenhouse, at the rabbits.  Hannah, a Polyface apprentice, is currently managing the rabbits. Just like the meat and laying chickens, the rabbits had a portable pin that gets moved every so often to keep them with fresh pasture to graze and a new area to fertilize. Daniel Salatin, Joel’s son, has been breeding their rabbits to meet their needs for about 25 years.

RabbitsFrom there, it was a short walk to the meat chickens which are moved each day to a new piece of land to de-bug and fertilize.

Meat Chickens

Meat chickens

We also saw the chicken and turkey processing area. The meat chickens are processed at 9 weeks. They are caught by hand, cut, defeathered, and processed right there on the farm. They are then bagged and iced. Will told me sometimes they don’t even make it to the ice because the customer is standing right there to take their chicken home. Talk about farm to table!

Chicken & turkey processing area

Chicken & turkey processing area

Then, down to the barn where the smaller pigs are kept before they’re old enough to be on pasture. Since this is the only animal Will and I have ever raised, this was probably my favorite area.  The pigs in this picture are only a couple weeks away from being on the pasture.

PigsWe met a few of the other interns and were on our way to the egg mobiles. The laying hens were beautiful!

Hens and Egg MobileAs we were approaching the fencing around their pasture area, we noticed that one of those ladies had gotten onto the outside of the fence.  Will and I worked together to corner her and Will effortlessly snatched her leg and got her back in the fence. As she squawked with displeasure, the guarding goose came running over to see what we had done to his hen! The Salatins use a single goose with each group of hens to protect the hens and alert the Salatins, and their dog Michael, if there is trouble amongst their ladies.

The laying hens are in what is called a “featherpin.” A special netting goes around the coop to keep the chickens in their designated area. Much like the rabbits, the featherpins are moved every other day to allow the ladies to get fresh bugs to eat and a new area to fertilize. Inside of the coop, the laying hens sleep and, of course, lay their eggs in the nesting boxes on the inside.

Overall, the day was great! Seeing the Salatins’ property and all of their livestock made me so excited for our future.  What they’ve built together as a family fills me with hope…hope that we can feed the world locally, hope that we can change the way people view food production, and hope that the small family farmer is making its comeback.   The peaceful feeling on the property, the beauty of each of the animals, and the breathtaking scenery have left me with something to meditate on while I wait for our dream farm to come.

With the help of people like you – our Urban Acres members and friends – the future of these farms is brighter every day.

Welcome Our New Chef, David Rodriguez

August 28th, 2014

Urban Acres Chef David Rodriguez taking a photo op in front of the #UAtractor

We’re pleased to welcome our new head chef, David Rodriguez!   David brings his creativity and passion for farm-to-table cuisine to our Urban Acres family, further advancing our mission to change our community through real food that supports Texas agriculture.  Please give David a friendly hello or high-five when you see him hustling behind the counter in our open kitchen at the Farmstead!  David was most recently the Executive Chef at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts and previously spent several years in Denton working under Chef Sheena Croft at Hannah’s Off The Square. He was born and raised in Dallas and began cooking with his father at age 13.

With David’s addition to the team, we’ve also expanded our Farmstead breakfast and lunch menu, as well as our hours…now open Tuesday through Thursday!


  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8am-2pm
  • Friday: 8am-8pm
  • Saturday: 8am-6pm
  • Sunday: 9am-5pm

If you dined under the misters on our patio last weekend, then you’ve already tried some of David’s new weekly-revolving menu items that showcase what the seasons and our Texas farmers and artisans have to offer: the “Pig and Fig” sandwich, pastured chicken salad, squash quiche, and organic artisan pizza with garden sorrel pesto, to name a few.  Coming soon: housemade chorizo tacos with pastured pork.  Yum.

New quiche on the Farmstead menu

New squash quiche on the Farmstead menu

David says the menu was also inspired by recent trips to Portland, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

“We’ve spent some time traveling and researching what the best chefs are doing on the West Coast, where they set the standard for cutting-edge local and organic cuisine – pizza at The Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley, quiche at Tartine in San Fran’s Mission District, sandwiches at Lardo in Portland. My hope is to take this little urban farm in Dallas and use the eggs from our chickens, the honey from our bees, the veggies from our greenhouse, and other honest ingredients to put our unique spin on Dallas’ food scene.”

Our Farmstead is committed to using 100% organic produce and dairy, fair-trade spices, pastured meats, and products that do not contain pesticides or hormones, artificial flavoring, hydrogenated oils, MSG, or GMOs.  Bring your friends, family, and kids, and dine on our patio at communal farm tables and tour the on-site chicken coop, herb garden, flower garden, and aquaponics greenhouse, as well as sign up for one of our Farmstead classes including knife skills, cooking, canning, and gardening.

See ya this weekend, friends!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

August 25th, 2014

Thanks to everyone who entered our Chicken Recipe Drawing – you all submitted some seriously delicious sounding recipes!   We randomly chose one person from all the entries to win a $100 Urban Acres Farmstead gift card!  So without further ado, the winner is…

Eric North!

Here’s Eric’s recipe submission…

I like to take a whole frozen chicken that I get in my Large chicken share from Urban Acres, put it in a crockpot on the lowest setting with herbs from my garden (usually rosemary and thyme, salt, pepper) and garlic cloves. I put it in before I leave for work usually around 7am, and when I get home 12 hours later I have the juiciest chicken ready to eat. I sometimes make chicken BBQ sliders, eat it on a salad/veggies from my share, or I will make a rice bowl. Then I always have lots left over to make chicken salad the next day, the bones I use for stock.

The best part is when you let it slow cook for 12 hours, there is this amazing juice left in the crockpot, I simmer that on low and it makes the best sauce/gravy.

Couldn’t be easier and it makes 2-3 meals for my family.

Sounds delish and super simple.  Thanks, Eric!

We thought we’d also list the other submissions – these recipes are too good not to share…

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Submitted by T.H. – Definitely Smoky Chicken Tinga Tacos. It adds layers of complex flavors to a protein that can sometimes get boring.


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Submitted by Jackattack – I absolutely love chicken salads of all kinds. My favorite is to marinate it in a peach balsamic mixture (crushed peaches and balsamic rubbed on chicken breasts, set for 30 minutes, and grilled same as usual). Then I cut them up and throw them on top of some aquaponic lettuce from my share with whatever other veggies I have!

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Submitted by Jessica – I just recently created a food blog and my first post is a spaghetti squash bake using a roasted chicken! It’s a very versatile recipe but I loved it with the roasted chicken!


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Submitted by Vanessa – Asian Chicken! Marinate strips of chicken in line juice, garlic and teriyaki sauce before stir frying. Add an Asian vegetable blend to the meat and cook until the flavors blend. Serve over wasabi mashed potatoes ( just add wasabi paste to your mashed potatoes until you hit the intensity you desire).  So easy, so yummy!

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Submitted by Eric – a very delish recipe that I have on my blog – Cilantro Mango Chicken.

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Submitted by Rachel -
1 can of full fat coconut milk
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend together all ingredients. Use half of this amazing concoction to marinate 2-3 lbs chicken wings. Mix the other half with 1 cup of mayonaise to use as dip for wings after cooking.

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Submitted by Karin -
Hot Wing Chicken Breasts (or any part of the chicken)…
Place the chicken meat in a baking dish and just cover with chicken or vegetable broth.
Add as much Hank’s Red Hot Sauce as you’d like – remember you can always add more to the end results if it’s too weak for your taste.
Throw it in the oven at 350 for 30-45 mins or so or until the liquid has partially boiled away and the tops look “done” (you can always test and pull apart with a fork to make sure it’s meaty and not pink).
If you’d like a dry-er version, remove the chicken from the liquid when done and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes, turning meat once it starts to dry/crisp up. Keep a close eye so that it doesn’t burn.
This is baked and pretty much fool-proof and gives you the same flavors as buffalo hot wings with more meat, lots of juiciness and less calories. If it’s not spicy enough for you, toss in some more hot sauce and remember to use more next time. I usually do this with chicken breasts.

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Submitted by Ashley -

Per 6 pieces of chicken

1/3 cup garlic
1 bunch cilantro
Fresh rosemary
1 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in food processor and use to coat chicken overnight.

Next day, make dry rub with mixture of:
1/2 cup BBQ seasoning
1/3 cup chipotle chili pepper spice
1 cup brown sugar

Squeeze juice of 1 lemon over chicken.
Mark on the grill then bake at 350F until reaches safe temperature (approx 20 minutes).

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Submitted by msondo -

Here is a recipe I learned from a lovely Spanish lady when I was living in Madrid:

Drunken Chicken

Good olive oil
1 bottle of beer (a good pale lager like Corona works best)
Chicken (breast, thighs, whatever)
4 cloves of garlic (or more if you love garlic)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
Bay Leaf
2-3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick half moon fries
French bread (optional)
Clay cazuela cooking vessel (optional, but makes for great presentation)


1. In the clay cazuela (or skillet) heat olive oil over medium heat.

2. Roughly chop the garlic and toss into the oil as it heats up. Note that olive oil should never be overheated (to the point where it starts to smoke.)

3. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add in the chicken. I typically just use a single chicken breast for two people but you can also use thighs, legs, etc. If you leave the skin on, fry each size lightly until the skin slightly browns. Otherwise, just wait until the top layer of flesh becomes white.

4. After the chicken skin browns or the skin turns white, pour in the entire bottle of beer (careful not to let it bubble over.) If there is a bit extra, drink it and sing a song.

5. Lower the heat to just enough to keep a slow simmer and let the chicken and garlic sit for approximately 30 minutes, or until about half of the liquid has reduced.

6. In the meantime, fry the potatoes in a separate skillet. You can use a neutral vegetable oil (e.g. sunflower) if you don’t want to use expensive olive oil. I typically put a shallow bed of olive oil to cover the bottom and put just enough fries to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Gently fry on medium heat until each side is golden brown; however, they do not need to be fully cooked.

7. Once the potatoes are done, move them to the cazuela with the chicken and garlic. Also add in the salt, pimenton, and the bay leaf.

8. Continue to braise the meat and potatoes on very low heat until you are ready to serve. The nice thing about this is that you can leave it on low heat for quite a while. Be careful that you still have a nice amount of liquid. If it gets too dry, add a teaspoon or so of olive oil (but don’t overdo it.) The chicken and potatoes should be a nice golden brown, but very tender on the inside and full of the juices from the cazuela. The pimenton should add a richer color and a subtle smoky spice to the dish.

9. Serve in the cazuela or in a deep plate and ensure that you get a good amount of liquid. Use the French bread to soak up some of the liquid and enjoy!

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Submitted by Celine – The new favorite in our house:
1. Spatchcock (flatten) a whole chicken. I used YouTube to learn how to do this. Sounds intimidating, but is fairly easy.
2. Make marinade – 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, few cloves crushed garlic (powder would work, too), 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crushed, zest of one orange, salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste. (This is AWESOME! Try it on something!!)
3. Massage really well into chicken and marinade for a few hours in refrigerator.
4. Allow chicken to come to room temp while you preheat dutch oven at 450 degrees until REALLY HOT.
5. Place chicken skin-side down into hot dutch oven.
6. Roast 30-35 minutes (use a thermometer) and allow to rest before serving.
It’s Paleo (if you’re into that) and has this delicious, really crispy skin! We like it with zucchini noodles or sweet potato hash.

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Submitted by Dustie – HANDS DOWN the best and easiest chicken recipe –

Stupid Easy Paleo’s Pan Fried Lemon Chicken

1 chicken breast
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt (I use Real Salt)
1/8 tsp pepper

Throw all that in a baggie, pound the chicken slightly flat, and let it marinate about 30 minutes. Throw a little more fat of your choice in a skillet, cook the chicken breast on both sides til cooked through. SO. DARN. GOOD.

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Submitted by Iginia – We like Chicken Adobo. It follows my favorite protocol: 15 minutes of prep and then put your feet up and relax for 45 minutes while it cooks! To be accompanied with Basmati rice, carrots, broccoli and potatoes that cook in the sauce.

Submit Your Chicken Recipes & Win a Farmstead Gift Card!

August 18th, 2014

roast chickenWe know, we know.  Cooking chicken can get kinda boring.  Especially with the arrival of our Urban Acres Meat Shares (Pastured Chicken and Grass-Fed Beef), we want to give you lots of ideas on how to enjoy these high-quality meats.  Who isn’t looking for fresh interesting ways to prepare one of the most common meats available?

Thanks to our wonderful local farmers at Windy Meadows, we have what we feel is the absolute best local pastured chicken available. It truly makes a difference in flavor when you’re using meat from a healthy, pastured animal.

We’ve already shared the best way to roast a whole chicken and how to make chicken stock.  Here are a few more ideas we’ve rounded up…

Image source: TheKitchn.com

Image source: TheKitchn.com

Now, we’re turning it over to YOU!  Our members and customers are constantly inspiring us with recipe ideas, so we thought we’d take it to the next level…

Simply post a comment below with your favorite chicken recipe and WHY you like it.  Entries close at midnight CST on Sunday, August 24th.  On Monday, August 25th,  we’ll randomly select one person from the entries who will win a $100 gift card to Urban Acres Farmstead!

** Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win! 

Ready, set, go…

Meet Our Friends At Highway 19 Farms

August 14th, 2014

Supporting local farmers is one of our greatest passions at Urban Acres.  The more small-scale family farmers we get to know, the more we understand the many risks associated with going into farming as a career.

For example, one of the realities facing a local farmer is that they may grow an entire field of produce and then not be able to sell it to anyone. Frequently, local farmers take their produce to a local buyer, only to have it rejected due to size and appearance stipulations.  As we continue to grow, we’d like to pay it forward and continue to help young farmers remove some of those risks, making it easier for them to successfully pursue their passion and be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Thanks to your support, we’re able to “incubate” young farmers like Bobby Bevers from Highway 19 Farms in Athens, TX. When we incubate a new farmer, we give them the peace of mind that they have a partner to “go to market” with, freeing them up to focus on what they do best – growing delicious, organic food.

Bobby from Hwy 19 Farms

Bobby from Highway 19 Farms

Bobby and his crew are currently cultivating 8 acres of land near Athens.  If you tasted the juicy watermelon we had at the Farmstead this summer, you enjoyed some of the fruit of Bobby’s labor.


Watermelon in the fields at Highway 19

Tomato plants at Hwy 19 Farms

Tomato plants at Highway 19 Farms

Charleston Grey watermelons from Hwy 19 Farms

Highway 19 Farms’ Charleston Grey watermelons at the Farmstead

The mild summer has been treating our friends at Highway 19 very well, but the dry and hot weather the past few weeks has been challenging for them and their crops.  They just planted another round of summer produce such as yellow squash, pickling cucumbers, and slicing tomatoes and are also gearing up for the fall.  Their greenhouse is filled with trays of broccoli and cabbage seeds.  They’ve been doing constant ground prep and just planted pumpkins in hopes of having them ready by Halloween.  We can’t wait!

This is hard to believe, but the team is also already planting fruit for next summer! They’re about to plant strawberries in hopes of harvesting the first crop as early as March, depending on when it gets warm.  We look forward to tasting those beautiful berries next spring.

With your dollars and your voice, you can continue to do your part to support start-up local farmers like Bobby at Highway 19 Farms.  Thank you so much for being on this journey with us!

Fig Frenzy

August 7th, 2014

fig basketWhoa!  Local figs from Gundermann Acres are back (both in the produce shares and for sale at the Farmstead), and our Facebook and Instagram are blowin’ up with ideas on how you’re enjoying your local, organic figs.  We thought we’d share them all here so you can get some great ideas and inspiration…

From our Facebook page

  • Ellen G: Ate them fresh over the weekend. I made the fig tart on the Urban acres website today! Tomorrow in a salad. We got two baskets!
  • Karrie S: I’m raw vegan.. just gonna eat them plain.. I love them!
  • Dena J: They are incredible and we are just eating them plain.  What a treat!
  • Carol K: Love figs, we just ate them.  Like them just the way they are.
  • Chris C: Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs Recipe | Epicurious.com
  • Sherlie B: Wrapped with prosciutto, fresh basil, and goat cheese inside, drizzle with balsamic glaze and EVOO.
  • Animal Rights & Rescue of North Texas: Gone the first day.
  • Sherri M: Planning on grilling ours to serve with steak at my daughter’s suggestion (a dish she had at Uchi in Austin)
  • Kathy T: Loved them in our share.  Just ate them fresh & they didn’t last long!  Hope we get more!
  • Laura D: Fig Frangipane Tart
  • Mary M: I was lucky enough to get some in my share last week and we loved them!!
  • Parigi Restaurant: We did them like this…y.u.m.

parigi figs
From our Instagram

  • christinaisblue: I made jam with them! Can’t wait to put it in my coconut yogurt.  I found an easy recipe here.
  • bmkphotog: Fig Swirl Ice Cream.
  • tracy1314: Roast pork with fig sauce!
  • mamasimpson: I made a fig tart with honey yogurt sauce.
  • bananarama427: Goat cheese, fig and pancetta pizza!
  • raquel81: i was wondering what to do with mine. i cannot wait to eat them!

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>> Get more fig recipes here on our site.
The figs are gonna go fast at the Farmstead this weekend – get them before they’re gone. :)  And please chime in below and let us know how you’re enjoying your fresh figs!