Pound Ridge Organics

Photo credit ©Elaine Lloyd for Pound Ridge Organics This is one of Donna’s favorite photos taken at Pound Ridge Organics Co-Op outside the hen house/nursery. “These are a rare breed indeed ‘French Black Copper Marans’. They have feathered feet that look like slippers and the hens lay dark chocolate brown eggs. They are super sweet birds and good layers. This will fascinate you — the chicks in the photo were six weeks old. If they were industrial birds – they would be heading to slaughter. This photo is a perfect example of the problem with the poultry industry. At 4 – 6 weeks (slaughter age on CAFOs) heritage birds are still tiny little babies that can fit in the palm of your hand.”

Pound Ridge Organics Co-Op provides everything from 100% pastured meats, organic local produce, pies and desserts – to bees wax candles and locally produced eco-friendly laundry detergent. However, their “number one product” is eggs, which are 100% heritage, organic, animal welfare approved and certified humane.

Healthy Heritage Chickens

Owner Donna Simons currently runs the only hatchery in the northeast specializing in standard breed chickens. While caring for heritage birds requires much more patience and input from the farmer, many believe it’s worth it since it results in birds that are active, healthy, proportional, spry and live long productive lives – and they produce great eggs!

These heritage birds are drastically different from the chickens most commonly used by commercial farms. Chickens from C.A.F.O.s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) experience unnaturally rapid growth rate and disproportional size, reaching adult weight in only six weeks, while heritage chickens take four times as long. Furthermore, Simons refuses to use artificial light and heat in the barns to increase winter egg production, like commercial operations do, because it is disruptive to the bird’s natural molting process and reduces the amount of eggs each hen will produce over her lifetime.

“People are fearful about what’s in their food and daunted by the misleading labels on egg cartons, like: ‘cage free’, ‘free range’, ‘natural’ and ‘fed a vegetarian diet’. The latter is the most absurd since chickens are not vegetarians – they are omnivores. During my classes off site and on my farm, I teach how to decipher labels and how to shop. Of all the roles I play, I think that’s the most important one.” – Donna Simons

Good Eggs

Simons’ patient processes, vast outdoor living space for natural foraging, and a nutritious, diverse, organic diet (that includes Simons’s home-made immune boosting probiotic supplements), create eggs that have deep yellow yolks and exceptional taste. “Pound Ridge Organics eggs get incredible reviews,” said Simons. “Folks come up from Manhattan to buy my eggs and say they’re better than anything they’ve tasted at Union Square Market.” I’m not surprised because of what goes into them.”

Pound Ridge Organics eggs were given an ‘A’ rating from the California based consumer group, BuyingPoultry.com and is one of only thirty-two farms in NYS included in the ASPCA ‘Shop with Your Heart’ program.

Chicken Connection

By raising chickens with patience, Simons has cultivated deeply personal relationships with her chickens and has learned much about their social habits. Because the hens are not slaughtered when they stop laying eggs, the older birds are around to teach the younger ones things like where to hide, how to bathe and what to eat.

Simons has also picked up some chicken vocabulary and claims, “I do speak chicken, by the way.” According to Simons, “Adult birds make a high-pitched chirping sound to inform the younger birds that there is something they should eat. Their language is so sophisticated that they actually have different calls to warn others about ground predators as opposed to predators from the sky.” She goes on to explain, “My alpha male even has a five-syllable name for me. It’s fascinating to hear and witness — they have an incredible vocabulary.”

Human Connection

Simons emphasizes that her mission does not end with food and ethical animal husbandry, but human welfare as well. “Everyone along the food chain, especially the farmers, should be treated humanely, have safe working conditions, and be paid fairly for their product so they can support their families,” says Simons. She strongly believes that all of her work on her farm and through the organizations she works with interconnects and the benefits can be experienced in the food she provides the community. “Ethically produced food has immense benefits for humans, animals and the environment and needless to say, contains more nutrients and tastes better.”

Shop Local!

To purchase Simon’s beautiful eggs through her co-op, contact poundridgeorganics@icloud.com and visit her website, www.poundridgeorganics.com

Pound Ridge Organics has set up a complimentary ‘Ask The Chef’ hotline this Friday November 24th to assist the Bedford 2020 community with creative meal planning using all of your Thanksgiving leftovers. Phone lines will be open from 10:00-4:00 (914) 764-3006 or email off-hours to PoundRidgeOrganics@iCloud.com – they will respond to every inquiry in a timely manner.

Donna Simons, Owner, Pound Ridge Organics

More About Pound Ridge Organics and Donna Simons

Simons has been recognized for her work in animal welfare—Pound Ridge Organics is the first and only farm in Westchester to receive Animal Welfare Approval, the highest environmental and ethical standard possible for livestock. She is a frequent presenter at conferences that focus on clean food, animal welfare, and environmental preservation including: NOFA, Northeast Organic Farming Association, Farm Forward, Isabella Freedman Environmental Center, and Slow Food.

Simons also serves as chairman of Slow Food Metro North, the Westchester/Putnam and Fairfield Counties branch of Slow Food USA, which focuses on education and programming related to food practices that are ‘Good, Clean and Fair.’

For more information on ethical farming practices and a healthy local food system, Donna recommends you visit: