In our quest to support local farmers/producers, we have purchased your raw whole milk, frozen beef and chicken. With that, we have a few questions:
From your website, we understand that you are not certified (USDA) organic, and can best be classified as "beyond organic." More in the Polyface tradition. Correct?
1) We have not gone through the certification process to become USDA organic certified. There are several reasons we have chosen not to do that. One is time. Since we grow more than one commodity, meticulous records have to be kept for the USDA for each and every product for sale. It would take one person a full time job just to keep the paperwork in order. Two, we don't feel we need to pay the govt. for something we believed in and have practiced long before it became popular or there was a certification. Any feed we purchase off farm is certified organic, or from local pastures that are no spray, no chemical fertilizers and no lagoon poop and all our land is chemical free. In our dairy we use products that are ORMI certified for organic dairies. We love to buy local when we can, but we take it one step further than Polyface in that we only buy things we know are chemical free. I would rather buy hay from Oregon that is chemical free than herbicide applied and lagoon pooped grass across the street.
Is your beef your own? You seem to go into some detail about all other products, but not the beef. Would you normally utilize Olson's for butchering and packaging? Do you also offer quarter, half and whole beef? Which breed of cattle?
2) The beef is our own. It is Jersey beef from a couple of our animals from last year. There are 2 ways to sell meat in the state of WA. One is to sell a live animal and arrange processing at a local butcher like Olson's. You are allowed to have the animal divided up into 1/4's to do that. They call that custom slaughter. If a store or restaurant wants to sell or use meat by the cut, the meat has to be slaughtered at a USDA facility with an inspector present and processed at a USDA facility (the two are not necessarily in the same location) with an inspector present. There has not been a large animal facility on this side of the mountains for some time. Recently, Pierce County got a mobile slaughter unit that is a USDA facility. It can only operate on certain farms which are set up to handle the waste, employee needs etc. The closest farm for us is in McKenna. To sell our meat we had to take our animals to McKenna for slaughter and then they were sent to Rochester for processing. It is a long and expensive process. We don't raise enough beef to offer the half or whole animals for sale. We do offer pork that way though.
We're assuming that your pork products are your own.
3) The pork is our own and the mom and all the babies are fed certified organic feed and allowed to roam in our woods or pasture (to a point).
Our first Meadowwood whole chicken sample was much tougher than what we are accustomed to with store-bought "organic" chickens previously purchased. Is this typical of your chickens, or did we just get an "old bird"?
4) Chicken which has had exercise is tougher than what you would get in the store. Muscles which are not allowed to move are very soft and that is store bought, confinement chicken . Our chickens are processed and sold young. Unless you specifically ask for a stewing hen, the chickens we offer will be a Cornish cross breed.
Do you offer farm tours?
5) We have given some tours to pre-school groups. They need to be set up in advance. We are very busy and though we love to share what we do with others, this is our full-time job and certain things have to get done every day.
Suggestion: How about a customer appreciation day, whereby your customers devote a day (every so often) to volunteer their time to help around the farm. Perhaps general clean-up or special projects, if ever needed.
6) We had a farm work day this summer when we had people come help us with several projects. We painted, harvested garlic, built 2 chicken coops and some other misc. projects. I am sure we will have one again next summer.