Partner Spotlight - Helen's Hens

Between little comments and questions directed at a chicken mottled with black and white stripes, Laura Cotterman tells me that this particular bird has been around for almost four years ("She's a pet by now"). As she returns the chicken to the ground it scampers over to nibble at the watermelon that Laura has smashed as a treat.  I decide that watermelon and good company sounds like a pretty nice way to spend four years, before realizing that I'm envying a chicken's life.

Laura introduces a new friend
It's a Monday morning and the Mobile Market is making its biweekly visit to Helen's Hens, a pastured livestock operation located in The Plains, Virginia, about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C.
The bus cools off in some shade while eggs are loaded
While the vast blue sky and fluffy white clouds give the rolling green hills the background that one expects of farmland, down on the ground the watermelon is causing an excitement that breaks the tranquility.  Masses of different colored chickens hurtle around my feet as I try to get just one to stand still for a picture.  Needless to say, I am the least of their concerns.

The open sky surrounds the hen pasture

The Mobile Market picks up about 80 dozen eggs every two weeks from Helen's Hens (Helen is Laura's daughter and business partner), offering them at all nine of its market stops.  The partnership with Helen's Hens has existed since the Mobile Market's pilot season last year.

New this season is our ability to extend our matching incentive program to eggs and meats for our customers who use food assistance (thanks to a generous donation by Power Supply).  This is especially important since the eggs sold at the Mobile Market are pasture-raised, and thus, nutrient dense. Compared to commercial eggs, pasture-raised eggs are less concentrated in saturated fat and cholesterol, while providing higher levels of Vitamins E and D.

Birds of all colors flock together at Helen's Hens
The chickens are not given antibiotics or hormones, and are fed outside in an open pasture with a combination of forage, seeds, and grains -- and the periodic watermelon.  It was easy to tell from spending time with Laura and the chickens that the main ingredient in the production of the eggs is care. Laura's knowledge of her animals and their behavior was a clear sign of dedication. And having tasted eggs from Helen's Hens, I can vouch that they blow the commercially raised competition out of the water. 

A reluctant photo-op with the egg producers

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