Monday, April 12, 2010

Meat CSA

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Over the last few months we have been hard at work preparing for the launch of our Meat CSA in June.

In a nutshell, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between the farmer and the end consumer, where the CSA member buys in to the farmer’s harvest and receives a share of the bounty produced. Over the last few decades, CSAs became popular in the States with vegetable farmers. Members would pay for their share at the start of the season and each week would take home a bag of fresh produce that was ripe that week. Now the CSA model has expanded beyond just veggies, some farms offer flowers, herbs, eggs and other products.

We were toying with the idea of a Meat CSA for quite some time – last year we had the opportunity to sell ¼ and ½ sides of grass fed beef direct-to-market and it was a great experience – but my mind was set to go for it as we processed venison in the fall.

Not coming from a family of hunters, I had never cut and wrapped my own meat before but I dove right in (my Grandpa Joe would be so proud). At the end of the day I found myself glancing between the impeccable roast Lloyd handed me and the “yucky bucket” full of little bits of fat, fascia, tendons and other weird chewy bits (destined for the coyotes by the way). I remember thinking first, what a beautiful cut of meat I was holding, so lovingly and carefully prepared and then looking at the bucket and quietly mumbling, “aaand that’s where ground beef comes from”.

Here on the ranch, we don’t eat much “boughten” meat as we have a freezer (or two or three) full of ranch beef, venison and stewing hens. But on processing day, it was not so much that I wanted to eat that beautiful roast, I wanted to cook it and serve to others. I wanted to share all the love, care and thought that went into preparing the meat - I was sold on the idea of a Meat CSA and poor Lloyd didn’t tell me ‘no’ so here we are today.

We raise grass fed beef, pastured pork, pastured poultry and free range eggs for our monthly Mixed Meat CSA. All our animals are raised naturally, outdoors in the Central Oregon sunshine - no hormones, no antibiotics. Our arrangement with the animals is more partnership than commodity; they work for us by tilling, fertilizing and keeping pests under control, and we work for them be providing love, food, water, shelter and a good life while they are with us. This creates a quality product that our members can come to the ranch and see for themselves.

The CSA system is a win/win situation; our members receive delicious, locally produced meats each month and we the ranchers have a steady stream of capital throughout the year (ranch income usually comes in spikes when we sell cattle or small grains but for some reason the utility and insurance companies aren’t very accommodating and want checks each month). Most of all though is the development of a community of people that supports “their” farmer. Just as we like to shake the hands of the people that enjoy our product, members like to know where their food comes from and if they have feedback about it, there are ears here to listen to what they have to say. This is the real community in Community Supported Agriculture.

Here’s the skinny on our Meat CSA

- Six month commitment for CSA membership
- Shares contain a mixed variety of beef, pork, chicken and eggs
- At this time, shares are not customizable and reflect what is seasonally available
- Two share sizes: full share (20lb/mo) or half share (10lb/mo)
- Shares available for pickup on farm or at drop points in Madras or Portland
- Full share $130/mo, half share $70/mo

An example full share may contain:

4 TBone steaks
2 cube steaks
6lb ground beef

4 pork chops
4 cured ham steaks

1 whole chicken
2 dozen eggs

For more information, visit our Local Harvest listing, leave a comment or drop me an email.

1 comment:

CSW said...

Katia, I don't know if you know Oregon Humanities, but they are wonderful, wonderful. I also realize you are busy as can be. But I think you could get them something wonderful by Monday, somehow, for their upcoming "Work" issue, just taking stuff from your blog. Google Oregon Humanities, and take a look at their magazine. It's really high class.

(From the site: And don't forget: the deadline to submit proposals and drafts for the summer 2010 issue on the theme of "Work" is Monday, April 19, 2010. If you are interested in contributing, please review the call for submissions and writers' guidelines...)

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