Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stonewood Farm

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Stonewood Farm
Paul and Frances Stone founded Stonewood Farm in 1976 as a 600-acre dairy operation in Orwell, Vermont. In 1989 they decided to address the issue of a perceived lack of quality poultry in Vermont by building a large, state of the art, automated slaughterhouse making a  switch from being dairy farmers to being turkey farmers. 

Stonewood Farm offers naturally grown turkeys that are not organic, but are hormone and antibiotic free.  Today, Stonewood Farm has become the largest turkey producer in the state of Vermont, raising around 25,000 turkeys every season.

The turkeys live in five open-air barns. While the farm raised some pastured poultry in past years, after the avian flu scare a few years ago, Peter and Siegrid decided to move all the birds inside where they are isolated from wild birds that can spread diseases, including avian flu to domesticated poultry.

The operation consists of raising the turkeys from hatchlings through the spring and summer until they reach maturity around the beginning of October. In mid-October, all of the birds are slaughtered over a six week period until about mid-December.  This provides consumers in Vermont, New England, New York state and parts of New Jersey with fresh, naturally grown, juicy turkeys – just in time for the holidays!  

Stonewood turkeys
The Co-op has offered Stonewood Farms turkeys for pre -orders at Thanksgiving for several years.  Last year alone the Co-op ordered over 650 turkeys from Stonewood.  The Co-op deli uses Stonewood turkey for many of the turkey wraps made daily at the Celery Stick Cafe.  Also, there is an option to buy sliced Stonewood farm turkey from the deli.  As with our Boyden Farm roast beef, the Stonewood turkey is slow cooked using the sous-vide method.  See last Farm 2 Fork blog post a description of sous-vide cooking.
Stonewood employs over 25 seasonal hands

Friday, January 18, 2013

Boyden Farm Beef

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Boyden Farm raises all its own feed --silage, hay, and pasture grasses. They use no artificial growth hormones or antibiotics on their cows.   Animals are cared for naturally and are allowed to mature at their own growth rate. Since 2005, Boyden Farm Beef has been grass and pasture fed until the last stages of finishing where the cattle received a grass/corn/soy bean mix. This mix gave the energy necessary to create the well marbled, well flavored beef product from the start.
Vermont's Boyden Farm

Many grass-fed beef proponents believe grass-fed cattle provides for a healthier beef. Grass feeding also provides Boyden Farm with a more sustainable approach to its crop raising. Boyden Farm uses what Mark Boyden calls a “Sweet Grass Finish”.  This is a special blend of grasses planted each spring such as Sorghum/Sudan Hybrids. These grasses are high in natural sugars. The sugars in turn provide the cattle a high energy grass diet which produces quality finished beef.
Boyden beef

According to Boyden farm, the difference between the sweet grass finish and ordinary grass finish is that ordinary grass-fed beef is inconsistent for the growth of the animal. This causes difficulty in producing well finished beef . The sweet grass feeding system was in full use by Boyden Farm in autumn, 2010.

Look for this sign at the Celery Stick deli counter

The Co-op occasionally uses Boyden hanger steak and ground beef on the hot bar in a variety of dishes and the sliced deli roast beef is available daily at the deli counter.  The Celery stick chefs use a slow cooking method known as the sous-vide method to make the beef tender for the deli slices.  Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and to not overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same "doneness", keeping the food juicier.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Miles Smith Farm

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Miles Smith Farm is a 36 acre farm in Loudon, New Hampshire. The 36 acres combines part of a farm owned by Miles Smith in the 1850's and two neighboring farms. Most of the land is pasture. The cattle they raise are "free range" and have free access, on a rotating basis, to all pastures. Miles Smith Farm is currently owned and operated by Bruce Dawson and Carole Soule. Their beef is raised in a natural and kind environment free of chemicals and hormones; living a happy and stress-free life.

At  Miles Smith Farm they raise Scottish Highlander cattle. Highland Cattle, originally from Northern Scotland, are one of the oldest beef breeds. They have evolved to produce naturally lean and tender beef without hormones or growth stimulants. A heavy coat insulates them in harsh climates and reduces the need to put on surplus back fat. Because of their shaggy coats some call them "hippy cattle".

Carole and Bruce’s goal is to raise beef in a natural and kind environment. There cattle is raised on pasture and "finished" with non-medicated, vegetable grains. Because their cattle are highly resistant to disease there is no need to medicate them so the beef we sell is free of chemicals and hormones.
Above, our General Manager, Paula Harris rides one of the highlanders during our photo tour. Miles Smith Farm also has a farm store where one can find a whole range of locally produced items.  The Co-op began carrying Miles Smith beef back in 2006 and they were our first local meat account.

Miles Smith also features a comprehensive and informative website.  For a direct link click here