Where’s the (local) beef?

A few weeks ago, I visited the website for the Vermont chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA Vermont) in search of leads on local beef farms. The site provided a list of 24 “certified organic Beef farmers/producers in Vermont.”

The first few farms on the list—Auger Heights, Back Beyond Farm and Brotherly Farm—were too far away, either in the Northeast Kingdom or Orange County. But Crow Hill Farm in Tinmouth didn’t appear to be too much of a stretch when I located the town in Rutland county on my map. (Rutland is about a 50 minute drive from my home in Arlington.)

I called Crow Hill Farm, which is operated by Caleb and Louise Scott, a few weeks ago, and left a message on their answering machine. I said that I got the name and phone number for the farm on NOFA’s website. I said that my husband and I were looking to buy beef from a Vermont farm. I asked if Crow Hill farm did in fact sell beef to individual customers. I left my name and my phone number for someone to call back.

I never heard from anyone.

On Friday, April 11, I tried calling Crow Hill Farm a second time. This time, Caleb Scott answered the phone. Again, I explained that I got the name of his farm from NOFA Vermont’s website, that my husband and I were looking to buy beef from a Vermont farm, and asked if Crow Hill Farm sold beef to individual customers. Mr. Scott explained that he hadn’t sold beef since the slaughterhouse burned down. I told him I was sorry to hear that. He said, “I’m sorry to hear it, too.”

<a href=I was beginning to think that finding Vermont beef was going to be easier for all the wealthy Manhattanites shopping at the Union Square Farmer’s Market than it was going to be for me.

I returned to the list of Vermont beef farmers on NOFA’s website and found one in Rupert, which is even closer to me than Tinmouth: Merck Forest & Farmland Center. I dialed the number and found out that Merck Forest did sell beef that was raised at the Farmland Center. It was frozen, and I could buy it—along with pork and lamb—at the retail store. Linda, the woman who answered my phone call, added that the meat was not “certified organic” because the feed the cows eat is not organic, but she assured me that the cows were not hopped up on any hormones. (Wish she could give the same assurances about Roger Clemens.) I failed to asked what the cows eat, but I’ll find out.

I shared my findings about the Merck Forest with Eric. He didn’t seem crazy about the fact that the meat was frozen. He hates to freeze steaks, thinks it ruins the texture and flavor. I told Eric the frozen meat from Merck was worth trying. He said he wouldn’t mind driving up to the Northeast Kingdom.

Anyone know of a farm in the southwestern Vermont area that sells beef, preferably fresh or vacuum-packed?

(Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, where I couldn’t find a picture of a steer.)


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