I can’t stress enough how important farm tours are to customer education & enlightenment, customer-to-farmer relations and community ties. To actually see & hear, in detail, up-close, how your food is grown or raised is an empowering experience. You walk away with a better understanding of the farmer & crew’s grueling-never-ending-job in rain, in snow, in 100 degree heat, early morning, late in the day or night. I know that when I walked away from my first local & in-depth farm tour, in August 2010 at Kilpatrick Family Farm, I was never the same. I wouldn’t dare waste a turnip without giving it a college try to use it all up. The planning, care, labor and time that is involved in every step of growing Certified Naturally Grown or USDA Organic food is immense.
The same feeling came over me when I went to Joshua & Stefanie Rockwood’s West Wind Acres for the first time. I had NO IDEA what a meat farm was going to look like, especially not one who employs Joel Salatin’s rotational grazing system for pigs, cattle, chickens goats & sheep. There was nothing but fields filled with heritage breed animals doing their thing. In the grass, not a barn. Just you, the animals and the grass.
I can’t say enough good things about what these relatively new meat farmers are doing. Their Scottish Highland Cattle, and a particular dude names Barry (see above) stole my heart. They are enchanting animals, and their hair helps definitely the cause. The visit changed my life as I am a very proud WWA customer (and Buying Club pick-up location) and friend of Josh & Stefanie.
They are doing things right. They run a humane, sustainable, ethical and pure of a meat product that you can get. They also focus on raising and breeding heritage breeds. Their animals graze, without much human-interference, throughout their property. Joshua, Stefanie and their toddler son name the pigs & cattle, as a sign of respect and compassion, and even follows them through the slaughtering process. This family loves and respected these animals as they will give their lives to become food.
I highly suggest visiting a meat farm when you have the chance because, generally speaking, are hidden from us here in the U.S. *Most* of our experience with meat farms are the footage of severe torture of pigs, cattle and poultry at large-scale commodity operation. Its tough for our culture, its disturbing to visit cute animals that will soon be your breakfast sausage, lunchtime BBQ or dinner entrée. I think we even have a tougher time getting our mind around the fact that *many* (not all) meat animals are treated very poorly. That said, many medium to small local meat farmers are doing right by the animals and their customers.
The moral of my rant is this:
Whether or not you are vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore: When you get the chance to tour a meat farm, you’ve got to take the opportunity. Especially if its one doing everything right, like West Wind Acres.
It is truly a magical place and tomorrow is your chance to hang out
in the tall grass with the animals!
Talk with Josh & Stefanie!
Fall in love with Barry!
The Rockwood’s are opening their farm to the public tomorrow, Sunday June 24th Noon-4pm.
West Wind Acres, corner of Toureuna Rd and West Glenville (Swart Hill Rd)Amsterdam, New York 12010
You can take a tour, ask as many questions as you want on how they raise & slaughter their animals, while also enjoying some family fun in the sun! Josh & Stefanie plan to have many kid-friendly activities such as face painting, games, and a petting/holding baby animals station.
Where to find them: On Facebook. Visit their blog. Lastly, you can buy their products a few different ways: new buying club program with multiple drop points throughout the Capital Region (online store) and are at numerous farmers markets a week including: Tuesdays in Malta, Thursdays in Schenectady & Ballston Spa and Saturdays in Ballston Spa.
Like any good farm, that has NOTHING to hide, WWA runs on a ‘transparency is best policy’ so If you can’t make it tomorrow contact them to take a private or group tour. The more people who experience the magic, the better. Knowledge is Power.