July 1, 2021

Vertically-integrated poultry, heritage breeding, and agriculture company Cooks Venture, is planting a large silvopasture of over 20,000 hazelnut and fruit trees across its poultry farms as it steps up its commitment to regenerative agriculture.

Mixing trees with agricultural production, or silvopasturing, is claimed to improve land health and significantly increase carbon sequestration. Mark Shepard from Restoration Agriculture Development (RAD), who worked with Cooks Venture on the project, said: “Hazelnut is one of the few plants that can tolerate the quantity and quality of nutrients that is in poultry excrement. The poultry also love hanging out in the shrubs, eating the hazelnuts and the insects associated with these bushes.”

Matthew Wadiak CEO and Founder of Cooks Venture, commented: “We are on a mission to improve the food system – and this initial silvopasture is just the start. We’ll continue to plant trees on an annual basis on both our farm and our network of poultry farmers.”

Research suggests that pastures strewn with trees sequester five-to-10 times as much carbon as those of the same size but are treeless. The Cooks Venture plantings will sequester over 43,500kg of carbon in the coming year as well as protect its poultry from aerial predators and sun and heat. Biodiversity and pollinator habitats are also protected.

At the end of 2020, Cooks Venture also planted nine small orchards including pear, stone fruits alongside hazelnuts and chestnuts on its 800-acre farm in northwest Arkansas. Cooks Venture breeds and processes proprietary slow-growth, heirloom chickens. “Our chickens are bred to thrive outdoors, spending their lives on pasture and eating insects and native foliage – and soon hazelnuts,” said Wadiak.

The company is built on the scientific principle that sequestering 1% more carbon into the soil on agricultural lands could mitigate climate change.

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