If you've watched our Small Steps Make The Journey video, you know we understand that the path to a better world requires all of us working together — each person making small changes and taking positive actions to create a brighter future.
But at the same time, change can happen fast! Here's what we're doing right now as we start this journey with you:
What Our Hens on a Mission are Up To
In bringing you pasture raised eggs, our hens are — of course — the star of the show. So, we do everything possible to make sure they're happy and healthy — and able to produce the tastiest and good-for-you (and the planet) eggs possible.
In fact, we made the decision to require a higher standard for our pasture raised hens with at least 110 square feet of space per hen (as opposed to the industry standard of 108 square feet).
After all, who doesn't need space to spread their wings if they're going to make a difference, right?
Our pasture raised hens will also be working with us next year by giving us one of their most valuable resources (hmmm...we'll let's just say it...they're giving us their poop!). We'll be using that resource to create better organic compost and donating it to community vegetable gardens and other community-based outdoor projects where nutrient-rich compost makes a big difference in the health of the soil and of what grows from it.
Crack Open the Future
Of course, the very most valuable resource Utopihen's pasture raised hens give us is their eggs — and the extra nutritional value of their eggs are the inspiration behind our upcoming Crack Open the Future (#CrackOpenTheFuture) program.
Crack Open the Future is all about supporting and showcasing other people, companies and organizations that are making a positive difference in the world in their own ways through the projects they’re working on and the companies they’re launching.
We know how passionate these individuals are about their causes — and they’re often in front of screens all day (not good for their eyes!). So, we want to help them sustain their passion, creative energy and brain and eye health by helping to fuel their journeys.
To do that, we'll be gifting them Utopihen pasture raised eggs which have just the right nutritional benefits to help them increase focus, stay healthy and achieve their better-world goals.
Utopihen Farms & REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
In 2020, our UtopiFAM made the decision to integrate regenerative agriculture principles and practices into how we run our farm. While many or our pasture raised farms already employ some of these practices, we'll also be introducing regenerative agriculture principles to all our pasture raised family farms over the coming year and working to add more regenerative agriculture practices to our own farm overall.
What is regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture practices rebuild organic matter in soil, restoring soil biodiversity which sequesters carbon, improves the water cycle and will help combat climate change.
We'll be sharing much more about our regenerative agriculture program with you soon, but if you want to learn more right away there's a great film called Kiss the Ground that explains how important regenerative agriculture is to our planet's future. Here are our first exciting steps:
Planting a Riparian buffer or stream buffer
Did you know that farming areas (like in Lancaster County and surrounding areas where Utopihen's pasture raised farms are located) are one of the biggest polluters of Chesapeake Bay? Well, by planting riparian buffers along our farms' streams (hence the name "Stream Buffer") we will help control soil erosion, nutrient leaching and run-off from our farms. This means cleaner water going downstream and, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay. We're also planting some trees in the pastures to help create shade and shelter for our pasture raised hens, while also increasing biodiversity on those farms, furthering carbon sequestration and reducing soil erosion in the pastures.
Our first tree-planting day (#PlantChange) took place on Friday, April 23, 2021, and we'll be sharing all about it on our social media soon — so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see us in action and learn more about regenerative agriculture practice.
OUR COMPANY'S Focus on sustainability
As an egg brand on a journey to create a better world, our team is doubling down on sustainability initiatives in a range of areas. In fact, between solar power, landfill gas to energy programs and a waste-to-energy programs, we are a 100% carbon neutral company.
Here's just a few of the details:
ClimeCO's Carbon offsetting program
We recently become part of two of ClimeCo's carbon offsetting programs: The Winchester Landfill Gas Project and the Lee Country Waste to Energy Program. Through these initiatives we were able to retire 1503 Verified Carbon Units (VCUs). It's an important step and as ClimeCo puts it:
Our world’s natural landscape, including its forests, grasslands, and wetlands, contributes much to how we sustain our way of life. These habitats and the living organisms within them contribute to the overall sustainability of our food supply, protect us from natural disasters, provide us with recreational opportunities, and support jobs that help boost our economies. They also contribute significantly to the health of our environment. Nature-based solutions (NBS) is the term applied to the sustainable management of our natural resources to address socio-environmental challenges, including water pollution and security, human health, and climate change. ClimeCo is currently working within the following natural resource areas: Grasslands, Mangroves, Wetlands, and Forests. ClimeCo has the skills to implement NBS that deliver both ecosystem benefits and financial value by leveraging environmental markets, allowing clients to reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate future emissions, and/or strive for net-zero emissions.
We could not be more thrilled than to be part of ClimeCo's program (another example of hens and people working together!).
We love solar power! In fact, the roof of our warehouse is covered with 821 solar panels. This provides approximately 43% of the electrical energy we use each year.
Inside our warehouse we have have high-speed doors that separate temperature zones, keeping the temperature in each space consistent by controlling air exchange. Why does this matter? Less fluctuation in temperature means our HVAC system has to run less often.
We're also in the process of insulating our cooler warehouse with spray foam — a superior insulating barrier that reduces energy usage. The heat produced by the refrigeration compressors on the cooler is captured and used to create our hot water supply, saving even more energy.
We also use energy-efficient LED bulbs to light our offices and many of our facilities. Of course, it's easy to lose all that energy savings by forgetting to turn off the lights! That's why we installed motion sensors too. They automatically turn off the lights when people leave a room.
RECYCLING & WASTE REDUCTION
Another positive action we're crazy about is recycling. We recycle cardboard, printer ink cartridges, batteries, light bulbs and glass candle jars with small amounts of used wax through TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials.
Additionally, the cleaners and sanitizers we use in our egg room are purchased in bulk whenever possible to avoid the plastic and metal waste of single-use containers. Perhaps even more interesting, the egg wash water itself (3000 gallons per week) is tested and used to irrigate the crop fields surrounding our buildings. This type of water bolsters our crops by replacing the nitrogen and phosphate in the soil.
What about WASTE FROM broken eggs?
Let's face it. Even with all the care in the world, eggs sometimes break. But we're certainly not going to let them go waste. Every broken egg is put into a 275-gallon tank with a pallet base. Once filled, a friend of ours — a local pig farmer — drops by to pick it up and then adds it to the feed he gives his pigs. This not only keeps perfectly good food out of landfills, but lets the pigs benefit from the extra nutrition of pasture raised eggs.
Hens and pigs working together for a better world — who would have thought?!
Okay, Great...but what about waste from the cartons?
All of Utopihen Farms Pasture Raised Eggs (organic, original, soy-free and duck) are packaged in cartons made from 100% post-consumer paper. The cartons arrive at our warehouse wrapped in paper, never in shrink wrap, and we made that choice because paper much easier to recycle and reuse than plastic.
STAY TUNED, THERE'S MUCH MORE TO COME...
This is only the beginning of our better-world adventures, and there's lots more to come. In the meantime, remember BIG JOURNEYS START WITH SMALL STEPS, but with each one you can, in fact, make today ridiculously amazing!