This spring we decided to try something new, a meat share. I’d read about a whole bunch of them last year, but with Mennonite Fresh from the Farm right around the corner from us, and the wonderful Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington, we shopped there instead. Upon moving to Burlington, I immediately jumped on the chance to take part in some CSA’s (Community Shared Agriculture). We signed up for a bi-weekly pick up of Plan B Organics for vegetables – the super convenient pick up spot is right across the street and once again I began looking into meat shares. A friend of mine reminded me about their visit to Dragonfly Garden Farms. We had chatted about them last year – after a visit to the farm, they were so impressed with what they saw that they signed up for the 200 lb share to take them through the fall, winter and at last report, early spring.
Encouraged, I began chatting with the lovely and knowledgeable owners of Dragonfly Garden Farms, Mike and Cindy Wilhelm. While they are not as close to us as some other farms, with the information I had learned from Cindy and from our friends, all that was left to decide was which size to sign up for. Mike and Cindy specialize in grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and free range pastured poultry using pasture-based farming along with organic, ecological and sustainable farming principles. In their words: “Our animals have free-choice to decide when to go outside, when to eat, drink, sleep”. You can read all about their story, the farm and the meat shares on their website, and learn where the phrase “chickens come home to roost” comes from!
We opted for the 20 lb/month share and received our first share in June. We have been delighted with the quality of the meat and each month we happily drive a couple of blocks down the street to get our goodies at the pre-scheduled date and time along with all the other Burlington participants. The Wilhelm’s coordinate pick ups from a number of places in Southern Ontario – the list is extensive! I plan to visit the farm sometime this month and will share my pictures in a new post.
I thought that it might be a bit of an adjustment not knowing exactly what you will get in each delivery – but so far the only challenge is deciding which meat to defrost a couple of nights before cooking. Being part of a meat share and the bi-weekly veggie share has encouraged us to do more meal planning and it’s been a fun seeing what we can come up with. We’ve learned a fair bit about cooking with grass-fed meats, fortunately there’s only been a little trial and error (grass-fed meats are much leaner than non-grass fed meats). Our first share delivery included a copy of The Grass-fed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes! It’s a very informative book, enjoyable to read and has easy to follow recipes.
We have really enjoyed the nitrate-free and gluten-free sausages, the pork loin chops, the beef and chicken – and I just add a small lamb share option to our next order. Cindy and Mike have also partnered with other farms to offer game meats such as boar, bison, pheasant, guinea fowl just to name a few. For our household of two adults, each 20 lb delivery lasts us more than a month as we also have meatless meal days and some days there’s fish on the menu for me. Since our first delivery, we’ve rarely had to buy any meat at the grocery store – I think we’ve only done it twice all summer!
With this weekend’s cooler weather and two pork roasts in the freezer, it seemed like a good time to fire up the oven for a long slow braise. A quick text to my mom resulted in a recommendation to cook one pork roast with beer and a link to this recipe by David Lieberman.
Beer Braised Pork Butt Roast by David Lieberman
The ingredients are so simple: mustard seed, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, coriander seed, pepper for a dry rub, beer, minced garlic and pork roast. Follow his directions, you can’t go wrong!
After a 2.5 hours in the oven, we had a delicious, lean pork roast. I took advantage of some extra peach black pepper and thyme jam from last week to make a quick sauce with the cooking juices, full of beer, garlic and spices.
If you belong to the Dragonfly Garden Farms meat share (or another meat share) I’d love to hear what you’ve been cooking up!
September 27, 2013 – Update:
I had a chance to visit the farm this week, what a glorious drive into Grey Highlands! I passed through a couple of towns I didn’t know about and took in the beginnings of the fall leaves. Cindy and Mike greeted me as soon as I pulled up, as did Dilly, you’ll see her antics in a minute. Once past the barn I met Lady, the tiniest sweetest 2-year-old cat, and we fell in love. If we were not a one dog, allergic to cats house, and if Lady wasn’t so at home on the farm, I’d have taken her home with me.
If you’re considering a CSA, I’d definitely recommend going to visit the farm itself. And if you live close enough – take a drive to visit Dragonfly Garden Farms, I can’t wait to go back in the spring!
I met Tom the pet turkey who put on quite the show for me, met Tamworth pigs Rosie, Ginger, Willy and Kalipea, and got stared down by a few curious cows who walked a distance from their pasture to check me out.
The chickens at Dragonfly Garden Farms can roost and roam fairly freely – we spied one clever lady laying eggs high up in the hay bales. I also learned a little bit about Chantecler chickens, handsome birds! They’re Canadian, an old breed created specifically to tolerate our cold winters – read more about them here
It was a great afternoon spent at the farm, and I happily made the drive home with my trunk full of our October meat share, plus a small lamb sampler. I also left with an increased appreciation for Cindy and Mike, and the care they put into their farm, animals, and into each of their share customers. In their words, they “care about what’s on your fork”. Our share ends in December but we will be definitely be stocking up for winter, not to mention taking part in April Maple! Mmmmmm maple…
And of course, I want to go back to see Lady again.