Long before EcoFriendly Foods was processing chickens, Beverley Eggleston was looking at natural alternatives to our industrialized approach to food and health. Beverley, or Bevegg, as his friends call him, studied herbalism in California in the 1980’s. In 1991, after returning to his family’s home state of Virginia, Bev purchased a farm outside of Bristol.
Bev’s Farm in Mendota, Virginia, just outside of Bristol.
Shortly thereafter, he met Joel Salatin at a farm conference. At the time, Bev was raising animals for the compost and soil fertility, and had as a byproduct some really good meat. Joel was raising animals for the meat, and had great soil as a result. They really connected at that conference, and from then on, traded ideas and product. Bev’s high-energy creativity encouraged them both to try new things, and Joel’s many years of prior experience shortened Bev’s learning curve. Bev considers Joel a mentor and our greatest supporter.
In 1999, Bev began looking for ways to get good meats to metropolitan areas and regions beyond the reach of Polyface Farm. The customers at Dupont Circle farmers’ market in DC were very excited about our product, and other markets and home buyers clubs in the area developed quickly. Polyface stepped up to the plate to supply the demand. Bev also continued raising some product at his farm in Bristol.
Bev married Janelle Tatum in 2000, whose business experience made her a stabilizer for the young business. She began managing the books and added a conservative voice to Bev’s visionary approach.
Selling meat across state lines requires a federally inspected product. In search of legality and customer satisfaction, Bev took birds to NC, TN, VA, and PA for inspected processing and packaging. Bev and Joel found the animal handling procedures at most of the plants disturbing. It didn’t take long before they began to realize that the weakest link in producing good meat was not growing or marketing; it was processing! Bev began theorizing on how to add our own processing plant to the mix. Thus began EcoFriendly Foods.
Bev purchased a recently-closed down plant outside of Roanoke, VA in 2002. It was a perfect multi-species facility, having been built for beef slaughter and modified for more refined processes like meatloaf and kebobs. The center cooler surrounded by several other rooms made it feasible to handle poultry, pork and cattle, as well as make some prepared and cooked products in the kitchen room. But there was a lot of work to do – fixing floors, walls, doors, equipment, and much more. The remodeling and repairs have been extensive, expensive, and labor-intensive, but we’ve somehow found a way to make it all work. We now have a one-of-a-kind processing facility that we are proud to call our own.