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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Great Local Food Tour: Wyebrook Farm

When we got to Wyebrook we had already been to three other farms and we were pretty spent.

But we spoke to farm owner Dean Carlson, the farm manager's wife Amy, and the farm's butcher and chef Janet. Dean left his former career as a bond trader in 2009. He bought the farm in 2010, originally intending it to be an investment property. But then he learned more and more how our currently unsustainable food industry works, and wanted to become more involved. Janet came to the farm from NY, where she used to teach the culinary arts. She butchers all the animals they raise right on the farm. In addition to the animals, Wyebrook also grows some vegetables in a garden, and they have a high tunnel. However, many of the vegetables, greens, plants and herbs they sell and cook are grown elsewhere, at least for now.

On our first visit we bought a big bag of mixed basil (grown on a nearby certified organic farm, B&H), as well as eggs and locally roasted coffee beans. 

We loved Wyebrook Farm so much on our first visit that we planned immediately to return and bring friends.    We were told we could visit any of the animals they raise (pigs, steer, goats, chickens), but we were just too tired and decided we would do that next time around. Which we did!

Aurelia loved the chicks...

And the pigs... 

We think this one may have been pregnant?

The pigs are free to roam most of the property. They spend a lot of time in the woods where it is moist and cool. Janet said it is because they don't have sweat glands.

The pigs were eating when we got there, at the food trough. They are given feed, but over time Dean hopes to wean them and have them forage for their own food solely (which they only partially do now.) Fruit trees have been planted partly for the pigs.

Wyebrook also has a huge solar panel and we noticed a lot of the electric fencing hooked up to batteries, presumably powered by the solar panels.

In addition to the store, their is also a cafe where they sell a lot of the food they raise and grow. While the menu was very meat heavy, there were a few vegetarian options (a salad which I had and a crudites sandwich that Aurelia and I shared), and if you requested the cheese be left out you could have a vegan meal. Chris and our friends Ricardo and Justin ordered beef and chicken options.

Dean explained that he believes raising animals for meat is sustainable and even necessary for growing produce. Chickens keep pests under control. Cows and goats graze and eliminate weeds and the need to mow. Pigs forage and eat what most of us would consider waste (fallen fruit, etc.) All those animals provide manure for fertilizer. While I personally won't eat meat, I think if you are going to partake occasionally, his model of raising animals for food is the way to go.

Wyebrook Farm can be found on Facebook in addition to their website. It is a great place to take your family or a date. And they have live music!

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