Nadia Van Wingerden
Rachel Hommel

Name: Nadia Van Wingerden

Farm: Nadia Van Wingerden (formerly Picaflor Farms)

Location: Carpinteria, CA

What they grow: Freedom Ranger chicken, a hybridized French/American breed that due to its slower maturation process, acquires a more flavorful, delicately firm meat. Currently, the chickens are $5 per lb. and will be $6 per lb. after summer.

Where to buy: Farmers markets including Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara.

In season now: Besides their selection of heritage chickens, the farm also sells creamy organic Haas avocadoes, flowers (including anthuriums and daisies), and, soon, Meyer lemons.

Their story: Four years ago, Van Wingerden enrolled in a poultry workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obsipo, becoming instantly engaged in heritage chickens and animal husbandry. As part of the Sustainable Poultry Network and Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities, Van Wingerden has turned what was once a hobby into a lifelong passion, reconnecting others to their food source.

“You realize what a monoculture we live in,” said Van Wingerden. “One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to meat. Locally raised poultry is the way to go.”

A former horse facility, the open farmland is the perfect setting for the heritage birds. Respecting the health and well-being of the birds, the farm allows them to behave naturally and instinctually with access to green pasture. The birds are able to forage, scratch, and dust in the fresh air of an organically certified avocado ranch in Carpinteria, free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The birds are allowed 10-11 weeks to mature, rather than the usual seven, making for tastier meat.

“Unlike conventional chickens, which people must disguise with flavor or sauces, our chickens taste great…no extra ‘flavor’ needed,” said Van Wingerden.

Their diet consists of non-GMO feed, fresh plants, produce (including greens/veggies from the farmers market), and insects. Antibiotics or medications are never used, with low incidences of mortality. The birds are also given the ability to perch, decreasing stress levels. Additionally, to reduce stress, the farm processes the chickens within a ten minute drive of the farm at a privately owned butcher.

“We really prioritize the welfare of the birds,” said Van Wingerden. “We are creating a permaculture on our property…everything on ranch is in harmony.”

Healthy and holistically raised, Van Wingerden looks forward to many more years working alongside her chickens, when not teaching ESL in Carpinteria. A former Toronto city girl turned chicken keeper, she has enjoyed working the markets, learning from customers and suggesting recipes for the perfectly cooked chicken.

“Working at the market is like opening the floodgates to meeting all sorts of wonderful people,” said Van Wingerden. “I’ve really enjoyed the personal and fulfilling conversations and exchanges I’ve had.”

Featured Recipe:

Chicken Broth

Collect bones, left-over meat, innards and skin. Chicken feet will add additional color and a superior gelatinous quality. Place in a pot that can hold the following:

6 quarts of water

1 medium onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 rib of celery

2 carrots

1 small bunch of parsley

3 bay leaves

Any combination of rosemary, thyme and sage

A few peppercorns

1 teaspoon of salt

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least two hours. When cool, pour into jars and store in freezer. Store in the refrigerator for no more than two days.


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