When Joe Koopsen was 10 years old he purchased his first three chicks at a tractor supply store with his dad. What started as curiosity quickly grew into a passion. After learning they were not allowed to have chickens where they lived, his parents purchased a small lot outside of town where he could raise them.
Joe moved from selling eggs to his aunts, uncles and family friends, to selling at local farmers markets. Over time local farmers noticed his work and encouraged his parents to support his venture.
At the age of 15 Joe officially became a first-generation farmer and started Joe’s Farm in Three Rivers, Michigan. In 2015 he was able to move from his 2.5 acre lot to a farm of 150+ acres where he specializes in pastured poultry.
Healthy, humane living conditions for animals is what inspires Joe, whose chickens live outside and move to fresh pasture each day. “To see when they move the coops to fresh pasture, to watch them pecking at grasshoppers and new grass and worms, it makes your day so much more enjoyable when you see the animals enjoy life.”
Joe is now married to his wife, Adele, and they have a 3-year-old son, Rowan. “I want my son to be able to run around the chicken coop and not have to worry about diseases or sickness,” he said. Safe and ethical farming is their top priority.
He believes that people should know where their food is coming from, and there should be no secrets about how your food is raised. “You should be able to ask any question you want to ask. Nothing is off limits. We have an open door policy where people can come visit and see our operation anytime they want.”
At Joe’s Farm the issue of food security is always top-of-mind. “We saw at the beginning of the pandemic how bottlenecked the commercial agriculture system is. One hiccup can cause an entire processing plant shutdown. There are currently too many steps to get food to the consumer.”
At the center of his work is a belief that the way we farm should be better for the animal, better for the environment, and better for the consumer who is able to eat a healthier product. According to Joe, “Our food should, and can, be an asset to the land, the environment, and the consumer rather than a liability.” We agree, and we are grateful to have Joe in our community of farmers.