By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Demand for local meat has increased at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market since the Coronavirus pandemic erupted. Farmers often sell all of what they bring to market each week.
Meat shortages appear likely nationally and regionally. However, local farmers who sell their meat primarily via direct sales to customers at farmers’ markets expect a steady supply through the winter. They are able to weather crises such as the pandemic for several reasons:
Planning. “It takes three years for me to raise an animal from its beginning to the time it’s ready for processing,” says Christophe Robert of Longlesson Farm, which offers pork, beef, and chicken.
Robert has his cows and pigs butchered at a local processor. He booked all of his processing appointments for 2020 last December.
Robert also cannot change his quantities. “I raise as many animals as I can on the land I have.”
Processing for others. Ramble Creek Farm also offers pork, beef, and poultry. Owner Josh Carnes processes the chickens and turkeys he raises on-site. He also processes chicken for others.
“I’ve been getting more calls from people who are raising their own chickens,” he said. “Backyard farmers who want to try raising their own meat.”
Promoting health. For many, the pandemic has reinforced the value of buying meat directly from a farmer. “It’s basically my farm to you, with my processor in between for some items,” says Carnes. “Plus, you’re coming to an open-air environment when you visit the farmers’ market. That means more space, less jostling.”
Being adept at change. At Squashville Farm, my husband called our processor to book appointments for our goats, only to learn the first available opening was in February. We decided to raise more chickens and ducks for the fall and winter and to pasture our goats a little longer.
Accepting what is. Elihu Farm’s processor of lambs also is booked through mid-winter. Owner Mary Pratt says she will continue her practice of raising her lambs on pasture and offering them some grains, which produces tender, flavorful meat. A customer endorsed the quality of her meat with this note: “I was raised in New Zealand, and you have the best lamb. It makes me homesick.”
This week’s recipe: Burger with Onions & Mushrooms