At Bethesda Farm, the Chicken Comes First, then the Egg
Bethesda Farm began as a dream to provide the best-tasting, healthiest local eggs available and to use the profits to benefit the community. In 2016, brothers Sean and Jack Hellein received the first organic hens on pastures near Jacksonville. From the beginning, the welfare of the hens at Bethesda Farm came first. “Whatever happened, we wanted to make sure our birds had the opportunity to express themselves as birds,” Bethesda Farm founder Sean Hellein says. Bethesda Farm hens live outdoors on organic pasture, chasing bugs and soaking up the sunshine in a quiet country setting. All that goodness finds its way into our eggs. The result of putting the chicken first? A superior egg in every way. “People love the great taste of our eggs,” Sean says. The unique taste of Bethesda Farm eggs results from careful planning and refusing to take short cuts.
Superior Breed and Feed Means a Great Tasting Egg
The hens at Bethesda Farm produce a tastier egg than other hens that are chosen for higher production instead of quality. “Our hens lay fewer eggs than other birds, but the result is a tastier egg,” says Jack Hellein. Another critical component of the premium eggs is the super-fresh feed they receive, Bethesda Farm operates its own organic, non-GMO feedmill in rural St. Augustine. Freshly ground feed means more nutrients for the hens.
Growing Community – Taste the Difference, Make a Difference
As a non-profit company, Bethesda Farm dedicates all profits from the sale of eggs to the communities in which it is a part. Community starts at home, so we pay living wages to all employees. In local schools, we build “community microfarms” that give students the chance to plant, care for and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables. Now, Bethesda Farm directly supports the Northeast Florida STEM2 Hub that fosters equitable access to STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math/Medicine). Proceeds from Publix in northeast Florida are dedicated to this mission.
Real Egg Quality and Animal Welfare Standards
Bethesda Farm is proud to be certified as ”Mobile Houses on Pasture” under Whole Foods egg quality standards. Unlike terms like “cage-free,” “free-range” and even “pasture-raised,” Whole Foods standards demand specific, measurable requirements designed to insure animal welfare. The “mobile houses” standard is one of two “pasture-raised” standards established by Whole Foods. The “Mobile Houses” standard means:
- Birds live outdoors with mobile houses for shelter. Moving the houses frequently means access to fresh pasture.
- Birds have higher amounts of grass coverage and access to shade and roosting space than the “pasture-raised” standard.
- Beak trimming is prohibited (permitted in other specifications).
The Hellein brothers, along with the entire family at Bethesda Farm, are thrilled to be a part of the development of these new animal welfare standards. “Taking care of the hens at Bethesda Farm is the beginning of everything we do,” Sean reflects, “it’s the birds that make it possible for us to make a difference in the community.”