With 2015 being our first year in operation as Pine Grove Pastures, we have many goals for the year to come. Each of these goals revolves around one main theme: bringing our community in closer contact with its food, because food matters. I wanted to write this post for two reasons: so that we have a public record of our goals, and so that our current and potential customers can get a feel for what we will be offering. Here goes:
Offer a small number of CSA shares. Ultimately, we would like our CSA to be the backbone of our farm, what brings everyone together. We want to start very small in order to focus on high quality produce and to service our local customer base. Our pigs have been doing an excellent job of preparing our pastures for gardens. It is worth mentioning that our gardens will be planted in fields that are being converted from horse pasture - not crop land. But in order to keep up with the established CSA market, we will need to construct a makeshift greenhouse to extend the growing seasons by two weeks on each end. In the future, we hope to have enough income to construct a full greenhouse.
Maintain a stand at the farmer’s market. Since we will be selling 5-6 CSA shares while planting enough for 10-11 shares, we hope to have extra produce. We would like to try our hand at the local farmer’s market with this produce and with our micro greens. This will allow us to introduce our products to a larger number of people in our community, and hopefully get our foot in the door for future relationships with locally-minded restaurants. We would love to supply a few local restaurants with seasonal produce and year-round micro greens so that their customers can benefit from something local and fresh on every plate.
Implement a pasture-based grazing system. Currently, we have about 30 acres of fenced pasture... 1 of which is being used. What a waste! But if you haven’t heard, animals are expensive. The good news is that once we have enough cash and customers who are interested in buying local, organic, pastured meat, our property has tremendous potential for the symbiotic rotation of livestock. Although I don’t know nearly as much as Matt does about the logistics, it seems simple to me. The goats come in to eat the weedy, “undesirable” plants, then the cows come in to graze the grasses, and finally the chickens and other bug eaters come in to scratch up the waste. Great in theory, but we’ll need to get all fences up and running, a system in place for moving the animals between pastures, a central location for water and shelter...this may be a multi-year goal.
Expand our pastured-meat operation. While we’ve noticed that local meat isn’t necessarily hard to come by, clean meat is a bit tricky. Whenever possible, we want the meat that we put into our bodies and feed our children to be free of chemicals, genetically-modified organisms, antibiotics, hormones, and unnecessary grains. So we could stick to extremely expensive certified organic meat from the grocery store. But we also want our meat-eating habits to have as little impact on the environment as possible, and still allow the animals we eat to lead decent lives. So it might not be the best economic decision we could make, but we want to expand our pastured-meat operation so that we can provide our family and our community’s families with truly clean meat. We will be working on making it easier for customers to know about and order what we have to offer. Check our website regularly for updates.
This is by no means a complete or static list. And while it seems a bit daunting, I look back at what we’ve accomplished since we moved to this 40 acre fixer-upper in February, and feel reassured. We have successfully started our own small dairy, raised five beautiful hogs, bred meat rabbits, raised and processed 60 broiler chickens, and experimented with many new vegetables. All of this while raising two young boys, working full time and part time jobs, and improving an extreme fixer-upper of a “house”. But the bones are good and we’ll keep at it. Have a great weekend.