Monthly Archives: November 2010

Reinvent Your Holiday Dinners with Local Fare

Our guest post, as seen on www.ahahomeandgarden.com.

Purchasing and eating local, natural, and seasonal foods is a growing reality for many people, perhaps even you. And why shouldn’t it be? It is exciting to provide food for your family this way; perusing colorful displays of root vegetables staring back at you from the local farmer’s market stands, and short drives out of town to visit the farms and meet the farmers raising the meat that will fill your freezer for the year. It is a healthy lifestyle that has potential to be easier on the wallet than one might think. For now, let’s unpack what is exciting about the realization of eating naturally raised, local and seasonal foods.

The cold months have arrived, and that means the excitement of the holidays has arrived as well! In whatever fashion your family gathers and celebrates, food is likely the centerpiece and if your family is lke ours, there is always plenty of it. But before great-grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe, before the hand crushed cranberry salad, before the cornucopia can cover counter tops and tables, tracking down a turkey and the rest of the holiday feast’s usual suspects needs attention.

Add Excitement to Your Family’s Holiday Food Experience

  • Take advantage of the modern map and compass…the Internet. And I don’t mean to research whatever delectable delight you can dazzle your guests with from the Barefooted Contessa’s website. I mean, find the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu. You might be excited to find your turkey and cranberries can be found at the farm, just past the other farm where you found your pumpkins and pecans for pies.
  • Reinvent your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area. For us in Oregon’s ripe Willamette Valley, ‘delicious abundance’ is an understatement. Cork a host of local wines for before, during, and after the meal. Challenge yourself to find local producers for a cheese and charcuterie platter. Kick the excitement up a notch by moving your stuffing away from a Stovetop version, toward something like a chorizo and cornbread stuffing with that spicy sausage from the farm over the river and through the woods.
  • “Meet your farmer. Meat, your food” was the title of a field day we had at our farm last year. Plumes of people came to visit with the intention of getting to know us, the people who raise the food, and to witness the practices by which we raise our animals. We had a big BBQ featuring our pastured poultry, and we received a ton of turkey preorders because people came, saw, ate, enjoyed, and believed. We believe we eat the food our food eats, so it is important to us to know what our food eats. With this said, take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers (call ahead because we can be busy with chores or various farm projects). These are passionate people, experts in their craft who can open up a world of excitement with the placement of a baby chick in the hands of your child, or expose the delicate and brilliant integration of the animals on the farm.
  • Understand that Butterball Turkey is neither fresh nor local. Plan your holiday feats with the understanding that local fair is on a very different timeline than the food in your grocery store. When gathering the ingredients for your holiday menu, it will require connecting with a local farmer earlier than the Friday before the big event. Turkeys are best preordered as early as July. Ask your farmer, “Why?” when you pay them a visit. Other meat products for that charcuterie platter or chorizo stuffing will need time to make as well. The produce you will want may be in high demand. Calling the farm ahead of time will let you know what is in stock and allow you the option to reserve what you will need. In all cases, planning ahead helps your farmers give you the best possible experience with their products. There is nothing like the excitement of knowing you have the items on your menu accounted for, well ahead of time, with the fresh turkey to be picked up from the farmer a day before Thanksgiving.

Gather the troops together this holiday with the deep satisfaction and quiet excitement knowing you walked the path of an American Pilgrim by:

  1. Reinventing your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area.
  2. Finding the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu.
  3. Take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers.
  4. Planning for the ingredients on your holiday menu well in advance.

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Filed under Buying Food, Eugene-Local Eating, Know Your Food, Preparing Food/Recipes

News Letter: Volume 1, Issue 3

Tucking It All In

Pre dawn on the farmIt was a morning blanketed in pre dawn darkness;  a mid-October sky peppered by night’s fading constellations. Amanda and I, with our partner, Kyle, and friend, Hans wrangled the last of our chickens into crates for an easy transport to Afton Field Farm in Corvallis where they would be butchered later that morning…business as usual for our first summer raising pastured poultry in Oregon’s agriculturally rich Willamette Valley.

Our Family Farm’s growing season was coming to a sweet end, and many of you were excited enough to come alongside us for our first year in this agri-adventure, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have shared in it with you.

This final news letter of 2010 will attempt to capture some of our highlights, talk about some of the things we  learned, and unpack what you can look forward to in the coming months, and especially what you can look forward to next year.

‘The Experiment”

4 months

6 pens

8 tons of feed

8 restaurants

153 new friends

880 chickens

"The Experiment"

Colonal Sanders Discovers "The Original Recipe"

It’s been one heck of an adventure! What started as ‘The Experiment” has quickly gained momentum (due to a lot of support and enthusiasm from you), and is turning out to be the catapult positioned to shoot us into next year. After reading the books, watching the movies, and talking to wonderful people in the Ag industry doing awesome things, the spring of 2010 proved time for us to do something…but there was still some hesitancy to do anything. The final push out of the proverbial nest came from 8 simple words.

Joel Salatin, a farmer by all intents and purposes, raises animals (cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, rabbits) for meat. But Joel calls himself a “grass farmer”. He deeply believes the ultimate health and care for his pastures will lead to the overall health of his animals, the overall health of his customers, and bringing it full-circle,  the optimal health for his patch of the planet. While Joel was attending a field day of one of his former interns, he shared those 8 simple words to an attentive audience that would be the push we needed to fall into “The Experiment”.

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.”


And off we went!

What You Can Expect For Next Year

Excitement! Next season will be filled with it!! Our Family Farm will have a new home for our operation, an operation we are going to grow by at least 100%. This is a huge spurt for us, but one we are committed to making because we can manage the growth. Some of the highlights we are working on this winter to make next year more successful than this year:

Home Sweet HomeNailing down the location of our new operation– This has been an inevitable reality as we operated on a temporary basis in Harrisburg with our dear friend, Kyle of Pristine Farms. We have been in negotiations at different points throughout the summer, but nothing was quite right. Currently we are having conversations with a wonderful family in Creswell. We look forward to reporting back to you all once we have a new home.

MPU

Mobile Processing Unit

Mobile Processing Unit (MPU)- This is perhaps the most exciting off-season project. Our Family Farm, as well as two other farms in the Willamette Valley are collaborating to realize Oregon’s first MPU. This project has the potential to aid many small farmers working to provide healthy and safe poultry options to Oregonians. This will only happen with the blessings of the Oregon Department of Agriculture of whom we have had several productive conversations around regulations and expectations. We are confident these conversations will end in an Oregon first. This project will need funding, too. If you are a person who is excited about what we are working on, and interested in discussing investment opportunities, please email us so we can begin this conversation with you.

Pastured Poultry Pens

Pastured Poultry Pens Stored For Winter

Building more pens– We will accumulate a small fleet of pastured poultry pens between now and the end of next season. We have found a market for pastured poultry in Lane County, and when I say ‘market’, I mean MARKET! These pens will help us meet the demand from people like you, restaurants, and grocery stores and meat markets. Cool stuff.

What We Need. Can You Help?

I Want You

I Want You On My Butcher Crew

Butcher Crew- This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in getting an up close and personal look at where your food comes from. We are working to assemble a crew of committed persons who will be available to assist on our butcher days, next season. It is our goal to butcher every other Tuesday, from mid May through mid October. If this sounds like something you would be interesting in learning more about, whether for the whole summer, or part of it, please email us at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com

Funding- We will have many projects that will need funding, from  now, up until spring when we start. If you are a person interested in discussing the details of small-scale investment opportunities, please email us at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com

Freezers- With our expected growth, we will need coolers and more freezers to keep our birds. One of the things we hope to do it offer birds later into the year, and that will only happen if we can freeze them. If you, or anyone you know has a freezer in good condition that can be donated, or purchased, please let us know.

Work Quad- With the expected increase in birds, feed, and water, we will need a work quad to help us move things around. If you or anyone you know has a quad that could fit this bill, please let us know so we can discuss the option to purchase, rent, or be gifted.

Recognition

We want to take a few lines to recognize our friends who were willing and able to support us above and beyond buying our birds.

Jeff and Alysha Maib ‘pimped our chickens’ every restaurant experience they had. Jeff also designed and hand pressed our business cards on an old press from the early 1900’s. If you haven’t seen, or felt our business card, just ask us and we will give you a few for yourself, and your friends. Please connect with Jeff at jeffreymaib@hotmail.com if you want amazing business cards or invitations.

Tyler and Alecia Jones of Afton Field Farm. Tyler was generous beyond belief to share his experience as a farmer with us, as well as a few other fledgling farmers. He gave us all the learning opportunities we could handle to butcher chickens, refining that art, as well as learning the finer details of what a first class butchering facility should look like. Alecia was the perfect host, making sure we always had hot coffee and snacks to get us over the hump, and hot, farm lunches to wind the day down.

Tom and Jane Hastings, and Kristi Ephriam were extremely generous in donating freezers to our efforts. If you have ever butchered 580 chickens in one day, you know the value of having the storage capacity to keep a lot of those birds until they can be delivered a week or more later.

Hans Grasshauer, Amanda Hvass, and Eric Vegh were eager enough to volunteer during some of our butcher days this year. Each was very interested in takeing a bold step in learning where their food comes from. Thanks to each for their early mornings, carting chickens (in the dark sometimes) and bagging the birds they had already handled 2-3 times.

Nate Cortez and Luis Romero took the ‘building value’ step to a whole new level. Our Family Farm has many customers because of their deductive questions to build phone, and chicken value. If you are ever at AT&T, look these guys up. They are very good at what they do. Me gusta pollo.

Kirk Ball has a big, beastly truck he let us use, quite frequently. We really liked how farmy it looked with its multiple colors, and big bench seat. Kirk is responsible for helping us with our first shipment of feed.

Kyle Witham is a man among men! without his invitation to share the space we leased in Harrisburg, Our Family Farm would be in a very different place today. because of Kyle’s deep generosity in spirit and labor, Our Family Farm was able to realize the kind of success start-ups dream of. We could go on and on about this young man, but I will refrain and say one more thing, If you are in the market for a world-class son-in-law, email us and we will put you in contact with Harrisburg’s most eligible bachelor.

Dale and Valerie Dick were kind enough to let us stink up their tool shed, use their water, light our brooder bulbs, feed a chick or two, house a big freezer, open their home to a field day, let us use their shop to build pens, loan us a trailer to move birds up and down Peoria Highway, and move an occasional pen. Thank you Dale and Valerie.

Amanda has been amazing through it all, challenging me to refine all the parts that a great business should exhibit, that I am fighting to learn. Thank you Amanda! “Even though we ain’t got money…”

And the rest of you… you know who you are. You are our friends who were willing and able to share the good news with family and friends. You were the people who were willing to let us put our business cards in your businesses. You were, and are Our Family Farm raving fans, and WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Thank you all, a hundred times over, thank you.

 
 

 

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Eating Out? Eat Chicken.

One of the neat things about raising some of the healthiest, and tastiest chickens this side of the Mississippi is that people devour them. Whether it is you and your family pushing our chicken past your palates, or local restaurants offering the highest quality products to their customers, our chickens have found their way all around town. Because of the kind of reception we have experienced from many of the best restaurants in Eugene, we wanted to take a moment to recognize them for their commitment to supporting local farmers, and offering their customers (perhaps even you) “the good stuff”. If you dine out in the Eugene area, please find your way to one of these great eateries.

HTCCHeidi Tunnell is doing exciting things at the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company just a hop, skip and a jump down I-5 in Creswell, Oregon. Our Family Farm came across the HTCC in the Eugene Magazine. After a short phone call, Heidi was more than on board with Our Family Farm chickens, and has become an outspoken advocate of our birds, and what we are doing. The Eugene Register Guard’s Dash Magazine says of Heidi, “Passion for food took this Creswell native on a journey to the Culinary Institute of America and beyond before she made her way home.” Make your way to Creswell for Heidi’s Tuesday lunches (deliveries to Eugene), and stay tuned for the upcoming 2011 Summer Barn Dinner series.

Adam's Sustainable TableAdam’s Sustainable Table is one of just 23 3-star certified restaurants in the U.S. to receive the top ranking for sustainable practices from the national nonprofit Green Restaurant Association (GRA). Adam and the crew work extremely hard to bring you a menu that captures ingredients within a 100 mile radius of Eugene, and a menu that is heavily influenced by the season’s provision.

Chef D’ Cuisine Melissa Williams of Adam’s Sustainable Table uses Our Family Farm chicken to kick up their signature Chicken Piccata, an offering on their newest menu, “from the beginning of the beginning.

The Rabbit BistroThe Rabbit Bistro is Chef D’ Cuisine, Gabriel Gil’s baby. As the newest recipient to be awarded the Bite of Oregon’s coveted “Iron Chef Oregon” title, Chef Gabe uses some of the less traditional bits of Our Family Farm chickens (hearts, livers, feet, and all) to create some of the tastiest and most clever French dishes you may ever have the opportunity to experience.

JuneJune, the newest venture of Katie Marcus-Brown and Sara Willis is a delicious dining adventure smack dab in the middle of town. “You’re not going to come in here and find 20 things on the menu. The dinner menu might have 10,” Willis says. One dish worthy of note is Chef Steve Eproson’s Chicken Marbella: 1/2 deboned (Our Family Farm during the warmer months) chicken marinated with dried plumes, green olives, capers, garlic and white wine. It is awesome!

Ibrahim HamideIt has been said that the altitude of Ibrahim Hamide’s flames are limited only by his nerve and the height of the ceiling at his Cafe Soriah. Consistently voted as one of the best restaurants in Eugene, Jon Boyd of the Register Guard says, “Hamide says he’s a romantic trying to keep a romantic tradition alive. What could be more romantic for a couple than to have a personal chef prepare dinner?” When you are finished with dinner, make sure you save room for the wonderful things Ibrahim will do to bananas, macadamia nuts, and ice cream!

Chef Tom SmithThe Oregon Electric Station is famous for its service, atmosphere, prime rib, the very freshest seafood…and now, chicken. Executive Chef, Tom Smith and his team work hard to delight the palate; whether it is providing plates full of crab cakes to the post 9-5 crowd, hand fire-roasting jalepenos to infuse the perfect hint of smokiness, or satisfying the stomach with their classic buttermilk chicken. The Oregon Electric Station is a staple in Eugene, built upon old, beautifully restored railroad cars. If you have enjoyed the stuff coming from their kitchen, you understand one of our reasons for partnering with them. If you haven’t, this winter is a good time to pay Chef a visit.

ECCThe Eugene Country Club is where Our Family Farm got it’s start in the restaurant market. Thank you Chef Lee, and rising star, Jason Albright for the confidence in our chickens, and the support throughout the summer by filling your member’s plates with the best darned chicken around! If you are a member at the Country Club, please thank Chef Lee while you savor the wonderful things he does to our birds.

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