The agrarian focus of Ecotone consists of two flocks of pastured, heritage breed laying hens that provide you and yours with the highest quality, local and organic farm-fresh eggs in the region.  Raised with integrity and care, the hens of Ecotone lay naturally healthy, delicious eggs with deep orange yolks that stand up tall in the pan, and a smooth, rich taste you'll not soon forget.

 The Endless Egg Basket
Ecotone eggs are offered primarily as part of a regular delivery service we call the Endless Egg Basket.  It's really quite simple, and much like a traditional CSA share.  You pay for a specified number of dozen in advance, and decide how many and how often you'd like to receive them.  Most folks pay for at least 10 dozen in advance, but the ultimate number depends upon your eating and budgetary habits.  We keep up with all the details, and as your "egg account" gets low on funds will email you with those details and inquire as to whether you'd like to continue.  If you do, just drop another check in the mail.  If at any time you'd like to discontinue the service, the balance of your account is refunded.  With a day or two notice by email, you can adjust your order easily to fit your schedules and appetites.

The difference between our Endless Egg Basket and traditional CSA's is in the risk assumed by members.  In the latter, your share in the CSA is dependent upon the many vagaries of farming.  If the crop fails, you don't get your vegetables, and typically don't get a refund either.  As a farm member, you share the risk with the farmer(s), and both benefit and suffer from the risks inherent to the various practices of agriculture.  By contrast, during times of low and/or non-existent eggs - i.e., during extreme heat and cold, or during molts - your egg account remains unaffected and so you only pay for the actual eggs delivered.

The benefit for us is that it minimizes having to collect several dollars from each person, and thus helps pay for the feed costs in a more substantial way.  While you may buy eggs for several dollars at a time, we buy the grain that feeds the hens that lay all those eggs at several hundred dollars at a time.

Why are these eggs so good?
Ecotone offers some of the highest quality eggs in middle Tennessee. While the great taste of these eggs comes from our pasture-based husbandry practices and the local, organic feed grains we custom mix on farm, the great fact about these eggs is that they are both better for the environment and contribute to the development of the local economy.
* Pasture-Raised*
Living outside year-round, eating bugs and grass and grain in the sunshine and the rain, these are happy hens. By rotating the hens to fresh pasture every few days, we minimize the impact on any one area and distribute their manure evenly as fertilizer for the fields, thus turning what is a significant source of environmental pollution with large-scale poultry operations into a renewable resource in the form of fertile soil. Because chickens range in concentric circles away from their roost, eating the best forages first and only later coming back for the less palatable ones, pasture-based methods ensure the hens are utilizing the pasture fully and efficiently, eating the freshest grasses and most delectable bugs all the time!
The important contrast is with "free-range," which has two meanings but one consequence. Industrially, the term simply requires a single point of access to the outdoors, even for buildings with 10,000 or more chickens in them. More relevant, however, is its usage in small-scale production, where it refers to hens allowed to range freely around a static coop and nest area. And while certainly preferable to industrial production, even this sense of free range has the same result of the industrial standard: an outdoor area overly impacted by chickens and a hard-pan dirt yard immediately surrounding the coop or building.

* Animal Welfare Approved *
While it's not yet official, in September we underwent a successful audit with Animal Welfare Approved as part of the application process for their "Good Husbandry Grant."  As far as we know, Ecotone eggs are the only such eggs in the area.  Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) was founded in 2006 as a market-based solution to growing consumer interest in how farm animals are raised and desire to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced.  AWA grants the use of its logo to farms that are annually audited and found to comply with their rigorous animal welfare standards. Seeing the AWA seal on meat, dairy and egg products gives consumers a way to identify products originating from farming systems that take animal welfare seriously, and it gives farmers a way to show their customers how they farm. Crucially, this certification comes at no charge to farmers. Because AWA is not financially dependent on farmer fees, they are better able to remain unbiased and transparent in auditing and certification.

The AWA standards are the most rigorous and progressive animal care requirements in the nation, and the only requiring animals to be raised outdoors, on pasture or range. Continuously ranked as the “most stringent” of all third-party certifiers by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, AWA standards have been developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers across the globe to maximize practicable, high-welfare farm management. AWA’s standards incorporate best practices and recent research and have been adopted only after rigorous review. The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.

To accomplish the goals of the Animal Welfare Approved program, all standards address every aspect of each species’ lifecycle needs from birth to death. Animal Welfare Approved works diligently to maintain a farm’s ability to be economically viable and the standards have been proven to be achievable by the vast majority of farm situations. Animal Welfare Approved reviews its standards annually, updating them as needed to incorporate new research and on-farm findings.

* Certified Organic, Local Grains *
We are proud to offer the Ecotone hens a local, certified organic feed ration that is cultivated by Mr. Alfred Farris of Windy Acres Farm in Orlinda, Tennessee. Growing 422 acres of GMO-free corn, wheat, barley, and soybeans just 45 miles north of Nashville, Mr. Farris is a unique farmer and Windy Acres is a unique farm.  Long growing grain for human consumption - as well as shipping it to Countryside Natural Products in Virginia for organic animal rations, some of which was then shipped back to us as mixed feed! - Mr. Farris recently began to offer his grains to local farmers with local animals for local tables.
As with all real food, these grains are more expensive, with their price more accurately reflecting their "true" costs, i.e., with fewer so-called "externalities." With Windy Acres grain, the chickens of Ecotone eat grain grown less than fifty miles from the farm, from a fellow local farmer whose values have guided his farming for the last thirty years. One of very few such holdouts, Mr. Farris plants his organic corn in staggered succession against his corporate, genetically modified neighbors, and even after years of pressure and testing his grains come out remarkably clean year after year. "It's just the right thing to do," he told me recently, laughing in the face of this year's drought and his worst harvest yet, for its alternative represents "the worst thing to happen to agriculture in the last 10,000 years."

And so the whole-wheat berries and barley grains that the Ecotone hens eat every day are already grown with a difference, and the open-pollinated corn and organic soybeans already have a distinct flavor of agrarian justice. Not only do these whole grains help them better retain water and resist internal parasites, the change from emulsified soy meal to cracked roasted soybeans is a significant improvement in nutrient availability and overall quality. The soybeans are roasted by the Mennonite brothers at J&M Farm in Guthrie, Kentucky, which also supplies us with organic Aragonite for calcium and Fertrell’s Poultry Nutri-balancer as a general mineral supplement.

* Heritage Breed Hens *
The productive lives of Ecotone hens also differ from all industrial layers, and even most of those in small-scale commercial operations. Committed to agricultural biodiversity, we keep and raise only “heritage” breed chickens. Unlike the industrial varieties developed to lay as many eggs as possible inside a light-filled building, these old-style chickens were made for outdoor production in specific bioregions. Defined by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, heritage chickens are naturally mating, slow growing, and suitable for outdoor production. Heritage breed hens lay between 200 and 220 eggs per year and can lay productively for a number of years. 
By contrast, the ubiquitous industrial hybrids lay as many as 350 eggs in a single year, which often exhausts their productive lives such that they are discarded at the onset of their first molt. As corporate monocultures continue to consolidate and appropriate the genetic diversity of agriculture, husbanding these breeds are important aspects of long-term sustainability; they are – literally and figuratively – the agrarian means of production, and their independent maintenance is as significant biologically as it is politically. At Ecotone, we currently have over ten different breeds of heritage chickens, including Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Black Minorcas, Cuckoo Marans, Blue Andalusians, Silver Laced Wynadottes, Americaunas, Delawares, and Welsummers.

* Truly Fresh *
Ecotone eggs are collected and washed by hand daily, ensuring the freshest and highest quality. Because we maintain extra clean nests for the hens, their eggs need very little in the way of abrasive washing, and absolutely nothing in terms chemicals or detergents. In this way, Ecotone eggs retain most or all of the bloom, which is a natural waxy coating that seals the egg and ensures internal sterility and overall freshness.
 We aim to get Ecotone eggs into the hands of eaters as soon as possible. The time from lay to delivery is often just a few days, and it is not at all uncommon to receive eggs laid that very day. Of course, this is a significant improvement over the two week old average age of eggs on grocery store shelves, and that's before you even purchase, store, and prepare them! Extra-fresh eggs - that is, eggs less than 24 hours old - are available upon special request, as are eggs for those keeping Kosher.

* Truly Local *
Ecotone eggs are unique in their orientation to the local economy. Unlike other local egg farms - some of which are over two hours away and delivered via refrigerated truck several times weekly - Ecotone is actually in Davidson Country - just 15 miles from downtown Nashville - and often makes deliveries with a hybrid sedan in coordination with off-farm jobs that bring us to town only twice weekly. Additionally, that we feed not just an organic grains - which is possible, but must be shipped from Virginia or Canada - but a locally grown one as well, reduces the transportation footprint of Ecotone eggs to under 100 miles. The USDA estimates that the average foodstuff in this country travels between 1,500 to 2,000 miles from field to fork.
But Ecotone eggs aren't just better for the local environment, they're better for the local economy too! Because we aim to source as much as possible from local farms and businesses - even if it costs more in the short term - Ecotone eggs embody as much as possible the principles of local economics. Whether it's feed grain from Windy Acres Farm or pasture seed from Pleasant View Mill, tractor chain from Walker's Hardware in Springfield or everyday needs from Swain's Hardware in Joelton, eating Ecotone eggs helps keeps local farmers farming and local mills and businesses in paying the bills.

How do you get these eggs?
From an economic and political point of view, we prefer to sell our eggs directly to the people who eat them. This form of direct relationship is quite rewarding for us, and by eliminating any type of mediator allows us to maintain our smaller economic scale. To this end, and in coordination with our off-farm jobs in Nashville, we offer a direct delivery service based on tight-knit neighborhood routes. We currently offer deliveries in the following locations:
Nashville Electric Service
Vanderbilt University Campus
Vanderbilt Medical Research Center
Sylvan Park
Hillsboro Village
Historic Waverly
East Nashville
Tennessee State University
To get on a particular delivery route, simply contact C.J. at or (318) 272-4288. We are, of course, open to developing new delivery routes, and generally we like to have at least five dozen to deliver at any given location. So ask your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers if they're interested in getting the best eggs available in middle Tennessee, and drop us a line!
For CSA members of Bountiful Blessings Farm, we also offer an egg "add-on" delivered directly with your share. We have also made the occasional drop at other CSA locations based on schedule and availability.  Members of other farms should contact C.J. directly for more information and arrangements.

How much are these eggs?
Prior to transitioning to local, organic feed grains from Windy Acres, the price of Ecotone eggs was $4 a dozen.

With this transition our monthly feed bill, for chickens alone, went from around $300 to one approaching $600; cracked and ground for us ahead of time, and without any supplements, grain went from .17  to .29 cents per pound.

Rather than raising the price we decided to open up the price structure to allow you to pay more in line with your abilities and values.  In the spirit of experimental economics we hope to enable the rethinking and reconstruction of the traditional consumer-producer relationships by suggesting the price of Ecotone eggs ibe framed in the following ways: 
Minimum Price: $4.00 per dozen
Suggested Price: $5.00 per dozen
Member Price: $6.00 per dozen
The Minimum Price barely covers basic feed and infrastructure costs, sometimes the fuel for delivery, and so far nothing for my time. The Suggested Price covers all these costs more comfortably, and begins to pay a small amount for my time and labor ($3-5/hr). The Member Price actually approaches a living wage for  skilled labor ($20/hr), and allows the means to both repay the quite significant start-up costs and further invest in expanding the offerings from the farm.