American Artisanal Cheesemakers: Introducing Baetje Farms

**cross posted at Menuism

Artisanal cheese can be found in pretty much every state in the union. I dare you to try and name a state that doesn’t have at least one dairy or creamery. Even the island of Hawaii is home to some great cheesemakers! Over my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these great American cheesemakers, starting with my home state of Missouri. Continue reading

Summer Farm Internships

I cannot begin to tell you how many emails I receive regarding summer internships at our yet-to-exist farm…so…from now on…check out this site.  It will be of great help to those looking for internships and apprenticeships on sustainable farms.

Sustainable Farm Internships and Apprenticeships

I look forward to the day when I can make college kids work for food and shelter.

St. Louis’ Urban Garden: New Roots Urban Farm

I read an interesting article in the NY Times this weekend: Urban Farmers’ Crops Go From Vacant Lot to Market

It made me think about our own town. I am a product of the city…born and raised downtown, went to grammar school, high school and university within a 5 mile radius of the city center. When I moved back to St. Louis, I bought a home 8 blocks from where I grew up and my parents still reside. However, I married a boy who grew up on a farm…..and the idea of living rurally has tempted me ever since. I am always looking for ways to bring the rural life to our little city spot. As the years have passed, it has become more and more apparent to me that I am wasteful. So, I gave my car away…to my brother who needed it. He is a farmer in rural Arkansas and could use the truck. I take the bus now…..I should ride my bike….that is the plan for this summer. Simon and I share one car. Sometimes it’s a hassle…but only because I have become so accustomed to driving everywhere. Just b/c I want to go to Target to peruse the items, doesn’t mean that I should waste the fuel. I have learned to make lists and be more cognizant of my time, use of the car and reasoning behind our purchases.

I’m embarrassed to say that we don’t recycle. I have lots of poor excuses: the city doesn’t offer free recycling, there is no where to store all of our recyclables in the kitchen, it’s dirty, causes bugs….the list in my head went on and on. Well….starting today we will begin to recycle. I don’t care if the blue box sits in the middle of the kitchen and doesn’t match the cabinets and the people tromping through our home (as it is on the market for sale) finds it ugly…..we will begin recycling.

I do use a canvas grocery bag.

Anyway, I digress…..the article led me to think about Downtown St. Louis. We have ALOT of vacant land downtown, especially north of Downtown. My family had a restaurant and tavern in N. St. Louis for over 30 years. The lot the tavern stood upon is now empty…the previous location is now part of HWY 70.

Is anyone using these vacant lots to their advantage? The answer is YES. New Roots Urban Farm.

Sadly, I don’t know much about New Roots….but I’m hoping to change that soon. Take a moment to visit their website. Help out if you can. I’m looking forward to meeting these folks and supporting their Farmer’s Market.  It’s every Sat from 9-1

Broken Arrow Ranch: Texas Hill Country

I lived in Austin for 3 years. While I was there, I spent most of my time eating and drinking….the latter being the more prominent. However, my carnivorous ways were honed and encouraged while living in the Hill Country. BBQ was a way of life….meat with every meal. I was lucky enough to have come in contact with this amazing ranch. Broken Arrow Ranch is a one of a kind, truly free range wild game meat. Until recently, Broken Arrow Ranch has slipped my mind. Micheal Ruhlman reminded me today of the beauty that is Broken Arrow Ranch.

As a supporter of sustainable agriculture efforts, we work with about 100 ranches around Texas as an integral part of their game management plans. Without proper population management, ranches can quickly become overpopulated with wild deer and antelope resulting in overgrazing and, eventually, starvation for the entire herd. Our field harvesting methods helps ranchers maintain naturally sustainable deer and antelope populations, which preserves the herd and land as a future resource.

Our field harvesting facility is comprised of several separate trailers that can be moved to any location on the ranch to minimize the time lapse between harvesting and processing. The ranch is quietly searched for deer and antelope. Animals are harvested in the field from long-range using a sound-suppressed rifle and a Leupold scope.”

We have undertaken these unique field harvesting procedures in order to reduce stress during slaughter, which is a major factor in controlling meat quality. An animal that senses a threat or unusual situation will react with an increased flow of adrenaline which in turn creates a rapid increase in lactic acid within the muscles. This acidic condition causes the meat to become tough, strongly flavored, and reduces the shelf life of the meat. Farmed deer are slaughtered by loading them into a trailer, taking them to a slaughter house, and running them through an apparatus where they are killed and processed. Even though these deer are domesticated and relatively tame, there is certainly some stress introduced during this process. The purpose of our field harvesting technique is to ensure the animals are never under any stress and the resulting meat quality is the highest possible.

The first time I had meat fielded by Broken Arrow was while dining at Cafe Annie in Houston. It was an amazing meal and one of my first introductions to sustainable agriculture. The liver for NYC’s Head to Tail Dinner at the Astor Center was sourced from Broken Arrow. What a bunch of lucky folks.

In regards to their mobile ‘butcher shops’: Gordon Ramsay had a similar type of slaughter performed on the turkeys he and his children raised for Christmas Lunch on his BBC show “The F Word”. I found it interesting how the slaughter of the birds took place at his home in the garden. A quick electric shock and they birds were dead…feathers plucked and cleaned. and before you knew it….they were in the oven. Now that is fresh. See STLBites spot on “The Butcher”.

Mobile butcher shops might just be what our local farmers need.