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Pastured Meat Share Details

Apr 26, 2018 | No Comments

Pastured pork chops, uncured bacon, steaks, specialty sausages, ground beef, roasts, ribs and more come in the Summer Pastured Meat Share!

We are very excited to offer Pastured Meat Shares from our farmer friends at Walnut Hill Farm and their neighbors at Haystack Farmstead. By offering this new share, we are hoping to connect people to these farmers who we know are doing their best to make a sustainable system in raising local meat.

See pricing and details for Pastured Meat Shares here.

Sign up for a share.

They gathered these answers to common questions about how they raise the meat for our Pastured Meat Shares. Please learn more about the farms here.

Walnut Hill Farm and Haystack Farmstead FAQ

from the farmers, Jill and Rico, and Brian and Breya

About Walnut Hill Farm
Walnut Hill Farm is run by wife and husband team, Jill and Rico, and their two little boys in Vermont’s Mettawee Valley. Together, they raise heritage pigs on pasture with a mixed supplemental diet of non-gmo grain, vegetables, fruit and dairy, plus hay in winter.  Walnut Hill Farm is committed to agricultural systems that are humane, regenerative, and innovative. You might have known them as Little Lake Orchard before they changed farm locations.

About Haystack Farmstead
Haystack Farmstead is a small family farm located in the beautiful Mettawee Valley of Southern Vermont just up the road from Walnut Hill. Brian and Breya produce grass-fed beef from animals raised in a rotational grazing system. During the summer months, the herd is moved to fresh, leafy pasture every day. During the winter months, they are fed hay harvested on the farm and preserved to exacting standards.

Q:  What exactly is pastured pork?  How is it different from grass-fed beef?

Jill, Rico, Julian and Leo run Walnut Hill Farm, raising heritage-breed pork on pasture in southern Vermont. They contribute the pork aspect of our Summer Pastured Meat Share.

A:   Pastured pork generally refers to pork that is from animals raised outdoors for at least part of the year.  Actual practices relating to animal welfare and the environment can vary greatly from farm to farm. At Walnut Hill Farm, we raise our animals outdoors—on rotated pasture—from April to October.  While outdoors, the animals are moved to fresh pasture when the green cover wears thin, and recently vacated pastures may be seeded down with interesting grasses or forage crops for the next group.  In the winter, our animals have ample shelter in a large, airy barn with outdoor access. In addition to mixed grains, the pigs have constant access to hay and are provided with fun extras from nearby farms like apples and sweet potatoes.

Pastured pork is a little different from grass-fed beef.  Unlike beef cows (and dairy cows, goats, and sheep) pigs don’t have a rumen that enables them to live exclusively on a grass diet.  They require a more varied diet that includes grains and may include fruits, vegetables, nuts or dairy products like milk or whey. We have always found that pasture, greenery, and fruit, nut, vegetable, and dairy supplements make our pigs happy and provide our customers with incredibly delicious meat.

Q: What are the advantages of eating grass-fed beef?

A: Cows evolved to thrive on grasses alone. In our experience, animals are healthiest when allowed to do what nature has designed them to do. Beef raised on properly managed pasture are both healthier and happier than those raised in a feedlot setting. This reason alone is worth choosing grass-fed over conventional. However, there are other benefits that include the meat’s healthier fat profile, environmental benefits such as a lightened carbon footprint and net soil improvement and erosion reduction.  And, good grass-fed beef simply tastes better!

Q: What breed of animals do you raise?

A: Haystack Farmstead’s cattle are a cross between Holstein, Black Angus, and soon to come, Wagyu. The Holstein heritage gives our brood cows excellent milk production which enables us to raise healthy, thrifty calves. The beef heritage adds vigor and heartiness that enable these cattle to thrive in a natural pasture system.

Walnut Hill Farm raises pure-bred Berkshires and Gloustershire old spot, large black, Tamworth and Berkshire crosses.  These breeds are vigorous and well-adapted to life outdoors; they love browsing grass and rooting in the dirt.

Q:  How do you manage animal health and welfare?

A:  Both of our farms make animal welfare a priority through calm handling, ample feeding and bedding, and dedication to pasture management. Our animals never receive any hormones and are never treated with unnecessary antibiotics.  We work closely with our local large animal veterinarian, and we find that an attentive eye and a little extra TLC generally prevents any need for medical intervention. Walnut Hill Farm is committed to the stringent standards of the Animal Welfare Approved third party auditing program and is in the process of being certified.

Q:  How do your farms protect the environment?

A:  Our farms protect the environment in many ways.  Both Walnut Hill Farm and Haystack Farmstead are conserved farms; this means that the land is preserved intact for farming in future generations.  Both of our farms rotate animal pastures, which conserves soil and requires fewer energy inputs overall than non-pasture systems. Both farms also practice regenerative agriculture, which emphasizes soil health through cover cropping and reduced tillage—practices that increase biodiversity and sequester carbon.

Q:  What is the difference between this meat and the meat I can purchase at a specialty grocery store?

Brian and Breya manage Haystack Farmstead, with rotational grazing for their beef cattle. They grow the winter hay for their grass-fed herd and store it with specific conditions for the best winter eating.

A: Fundamentally, there is a difference in quality; even if meat carries an organic label, it doesn’t necessarily mean the animals live a healthy life, or that the workers on the farm are paid fairly.  Our meat is single source, meaning it only comes from animals born and raised gently on our farms. Additionally, as a CSA customer, you already know that through this arrangement, you develop a relationship with your farmer and his or her family.  This relationship provides you with transparency and security and enables your farmer to produce the highest quality product while making a living and offering fair wages to employees. It sounds simple, but CSA is still a revolutionary idea in the world of food.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

Oven Roasted Parsnip Fries

Mar 22, 2018 | No Comments

One of the most delicious spring things is here! Roots hidden underground all winter gathering sweetness from the frosty cold. We just harvested these and baked the first batch – spring-dug parsnips! Fall and winter parsnips have lots of great flavor for this dish also, though the spring-dug ‘nips are the next level of sweetness. I love to roast them in the oven this way…

Ingredients:
Parsnips – as many as you’d like
Coconut oil (or other higher heat oil)
Salt

Preheat the oven to 400, while you wash and chop the parsnips into fries. Put a couple tablespoons worth of coconut oil on the baking pan and set in the oven to melt a minute. Take pan out and stir the parsnips around in the oil to get some coating, then cover with tin foil to roast for about a half hour until parsnips are very soft to tines of a fork.

Then uncover and roast more until you get that awesome caramelizing of the natural sweetness. Sprinkle with kosher salt or other coarser grind salt, serve hot. 

Also excellent dipped in a spicy mayo spiked with RFF hot sauce ;).

Colcannon with Shallots

Mar 15, 2018 | No Comments

For St. Patrick’s Day, a classic recipe from Ireland, perfect for our  seasonal ingredients. Colcannon is a recipe with so many variations, because it is beloved and made in many homes. Make your own variation!

2 lbs gold or white potatoes
6 tbs unsalted butter
5 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups of shredded savoy cabbage (packed in)
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Chop the potatoes in large chunks and boil in salted water until very soft to the tines of a fork, then drain water away (reserve for a soup stock if you like).

Melt 4 Tbs of the butter in a pan that will fit all the ingredients. Add the chopped shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until shallots start to brown. Then add 1 cup of the shredded cabbage. Cook the cabbage down til it is wilted.

Add the milk and cream and start to simmer. Put in the cooked potato chunks and remaining cabbage. Mash it all, and season with salt and pepper, topping with the remaining butter at serving time.

Variations: Add chopped spinach with the cream at the end to make it green! Saute kale with the shallots to add green at that stage. You can replace the milk and cream with 1 cup or so potato cooking water, adding a little olive oil. Add in cloves of roasted garlic. Peel the potatoes if you don’t want peels in there. Top with crumbles of cooked bacon or tempeh.

Roasted Winter Veggie Tacos

Mar 1, 2018 | No Comments

One of our Deep Winter Share members shared this recipe, describing it as “my new favorite meal.” It’s inspired by the taco share we do in the winter time, a great way to enjoy the winter roots. You can swap any other roots you have in for the ones listed below, to good effect. Thank you Emily Pollock for sending it over!

TACO FILLING
Chop into smallish pieces, toss in olive oil, and roast at 425 for about 40 min, stirring occasionally:

1 large sweet potato
1 potato
2 carrots
1 rutabaga or gilfeather turnip
1 large onion
(sometimes I throw in watermelon radish or beet too)

Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime, salt, and pepper.  Serve with corn tortillas, cheese, and re-fried black beans below (I make a new mexico hatch chili sauce with this as well, because I like my tacos really spicy, but I don’t think it is necessary).

RE-FRIED BLACK BEANS
1lb black beans, soaked overnight
1T vegetable oil
1t cumin (preferably freshly toasted and ground)
about 1t salt (to taste)

Cover the beans with water, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 3-4 hours, making sure there is still enough water.  Drain away excess water if applicable. Add vegetable oil, salt, and cumin, and puree with an immersion blender. Add the beans to your tacos!

From CSA member Emily Pollock, 2018.

Potato Leek Soup

Nov 28, 2017 | No Comments

This is a well-loved recipe around the farm that folks make to warm up for lunch, and enjoy with friends.

5 large white potatoes or equivalent (peeled and chopped)
5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water)
1 Tbs butter
3 large leeks (sliced using whites only)
1 Tbs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp celery salt
pepper and salt to taste
1 cup light cream
mushrooms (can be optional, but so good)

Peel and cut potatoes, slice leeks. Melt butter over medium heat in pot. Add leeks and let sit for several minutes. Add potatoes, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf, celery salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes). Once potatoes are soft, remove from heat, remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender or food processor to liquify.

In a separate pan slice mushrooms into tiny chunks and sauté. Return the soup to heat, add cream and mushrooms and simmer on low until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper if needed, to taste. Enjoy!

Sugar Pumpkin Cheescake

Oct 2, 2017 | No Comments

Smaller sugar pie pumpkins have been bred for flavor in cooking! They are wonderful in pies, and also this special cheesecake recipe.

A rather stunning cheesecake for fall and winter holidays. Thank you to Wilhelmina Ryan for sharing with us!

1 cup sugar pie pumpkin puree, baked ahead
20-25 small ginger snap cookies, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (total 32 oz), softened
1 cup sugar or other dry sweetener, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Halve a sugar pie pumpkin and bake cut-sides-down at 350 for about 45 minutes until a fork goes through the flesh easily. Scoop the cooked pumpkin flesh out and puree in a blender or food processor. Excess pumpkin puree can be saved for adding to soup or other dishes. Turn oven to 325 after cooking the pumpkin.

Mix chopped pecans, ginger snap crumbs, and melted butter; press firmly onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan to form the crust.

Beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla extract with a mixer until mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Regular Batter:
Remove 1-1/2 cups of the batter; place aside in small bowl. This will be your light colored batter.

Pumpkin Batter:
Stir remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the pumpkin puree and spices into remaining batter. Pumpkin puree must not be so hot as to cook eggs at this stage.

Spoon half of the pumpkin batter onto crust in the pan; top with separated spoonfuls of half of the reserved regular batter. Repeat layers until you’ve used up the batters. Swirl through batters with a butter knife to marble the colors.

Bake 55 minutes at 325 or until center is almost set. Check doneness by gently shaking the pan – when it is done only a small bit in the center will jiggle and the rest will be set solid.

Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

The Art of Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Jun 22, 2017 | No Comments

Chocolate + strawberries = heavenly.

Farm-fresh organic berries and decadent chocolate go together very easily for a wonderful dessert or gift.

We keep our fresh berries stocked at our farm stores in Granby and Montague and at summer markets during the month of June. You can also come and Pick Your Own! Or order in bulk on our website.  While this short season lasts, chocolate dipped berries are one of our favorite things to eat.

Six Tips for perfecting the art:

1.  Ripe strawberries are key!

You want sweet and flavorful berries.  When selecting the berries to dip in chocolate make sure they are ripe and red but not so ripe that they are mushy. Bright green greens of super-fresh berries are prettiest.

2. Keep them at room temperature.

Before covering them in chocolate, refrain from putting them in the fridge-let the berries sit on the counter for a bit, as water will condense on cold berries.

3. Wash AND dry!

When prepping your berries for chocolate make sure they aren’t wet.  Damp berries will cause the chocolate to clump and loose its smooth texture.

4. Choose the chocolate you love

– Use dark chocolate or milk chocolate bars or your favorite chocolate chips. Taza Chocolate is made in Somerville, MA, and their dark bars are wonderful for this.

5. Melt chocolate with a double boiler.

Put some water in a sauce pan and with heat-safe bowl on top.  The water in the sauce pan should be high enough to surround most of the bowl but not high enough that it gets in the bowl. Keep the water at a low simmer, put the chocolate with some milk in the bowl and stir until it melts!

6. Get creative!

Chocolate is perfect on its own on berries but don’t be afraid to personalize the recipe. Add some white chocolate drizzle, toasted coconut, sprinkles, slivered almonds, or crushed walnuts to your berries!

A Recipe for Making Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This recipe makes enough for a small batch. Double or so for more.

1 cup chocolate chips or broken up chocolate bar 
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil (this makes the chocolate smoother, shortening can be used also)
6-12 Strawberries

  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the coconut oil, mixing well ’til smooth. Prep a plate or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper on top. When the chocolate is smooth, hold the berries by the stem or greens and dip each berry in, twisting to coat each side. Then lay the berry on the parchment paper. They look pretty when you can still see some of the red top of the berry.
Put your full plate of berries into the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so to set the chocolate. Then they are ready to serve!

Additions to sprinkle on top right after dipping in chocolate:

Melted white chocolate, drizzled decoratively using a fork
Coconut flakes (toasted or untoasted)
Finely chopped nuts, like walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, or cashews
Salt or sugar crystals
Sprinkles
Bacon crumbles (what?! 🙂
Pretzel shards

Enjoy!

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

May 4, 2017 | No Comments

Take 1-2 bunches of asparagus, wash and trim. Lay on a baking sheet with a sliced red onion or chopped green garlic (optional). Toss with 3-4 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 2 tbs soy sauce.

   Bake at 400 until tender, or starting to brown. You can stir them once if you are like me and enjoy them cooked a little longer and browner. Sea salt to taste.

 Fresh organic asparagus at our stands in Granby and Montague in May and early June! Local asparagus is only around for a couple weeks. Not a bad idea to eat it daily while it’s here…