We're back! Goat meat at North Atherton Farmers Market TOMORROW!
Dear Goat and Goat meat enthusiasts!
Where has the time gone? Last time we were writing, it was winter, the goats were bedding down in the barn and kidding season was upon us. Suddenly, it's sunny, clear and spring, the goats are still kidding (no kidding!) and it's time for the market to start again! We had hoped to write more during the winter months, but it appears that did not happen and we do apologize for being so out of touch! We did very much enjoy the rest that winter always brings and time to gather our thoughts, take care of ourselves and relax a bit.
The easiest place to start with this update is to tell you that tomorrow - May 12, 2012 - the North Atherton Farmers Market opens for the season! We (Young American Growers) will be there with goat meat. We decided to start off the year on an easy foot by requesting from our butcher the same cuts that you've grown accustomed to buying from us - ground meat, stew meat, loin roasts, organ meat, etc. As the season progresses, we hope to expand the choices (more about that below!). The market will start with about slightly more than half of our vendor membership. As we come closer to mid June we should have our full compliment of vendors available. Tomorrow, in addition to fresh (not yet frozen and just cut today) goat meat, you'll also find early season produce (potatoes, greens, radishes, rhubarb, etc.) and all the staples (meat, cheese, ice cream, bread, baked goods, etc.). We are also excited to announce that we have a few new vendors this year - two of which come to the market with soap and other beauty products (organic and homemade!) as well as wine from a vendor that is proud of the fact that the wine is entirely made of grapes grown on their farm! Please come out and give a warm welcome to these new vendors.
Regarding our goats, there is much to say! Our kidding season, as we reported earlier, got off on a bad foot. We kidded shortly after the start of the new year and quickly began to experience some issues with stillbirths. It was a terrible time, but when we began talking to other farmers in the area, so many of them were facing the same trouble. Although it is still unfortunate, we did take some comfort in knowing that we were not the only ones going through this. AFter many discussions and alot of thought, the best we could all figure was that somewhere between the extremes of the incredibly wet spring, the intense summer heat, the fall rain and then the snow drought, that nutrients in the browse, hay and other feeds were bound up and unavailable therefore causing developmental issues with the kids, lambs and calves in our area. Some area farmers had tests done that confirmed some selenium deficiencies and others were less clear. Either way, we were not alone, but that doesn't take away the difficulty of the problem. Luckily, all of our goats did not get pregnant at the same time (much to our surprise) and as we speak, many goats are still kidding. This is good news! It is also nice to start off spring on a such a fun foot with the kids bouncing around the pastures. Soon, we will be moving the herd to their summer grazing site and will start the cycle again! That is one thing that we both love about Pennsylvania - the seasons force change, reevaluation and rebirth ALL THE TIME. It is a good thing!
Elsewhere in our lives, things continue to be busy! As we mentioned last year we were looking into buying a slaughterhouse in Spring Mills. That plan has come to fruition! Along with Mike and Virginia Byers, we are now part owners of our newly formed Rising Spring Meat Company. Presently, the slaughterhouse is under renovation and we hope to open as soon as possible. We have employees lined up (we created three new jobs right here in Penns Valley! yay!) and they are hitting the streets as we speak to make sales and new contacts. We are also working on many improvements to the physical structure of the building. Our goal in reopening this plant is to make quality butchering more available to small local farmers with less wait time, more customization, excellent customer service and individualized attention to branding and marketing their products. In time, we also hope to open our retail shop (part of the property) for weekly sales of fresh meat (beef, pork, lamb, goat, etc.). Please visit www.risingspringmeats.com for more information - you can also find us on Facebook!
Although we don't often provide updates about our nursery here, things are going well on that front as well. We continue to provide wholesale nursery raised perennials (Astilbes in particular) through a growing contract with Creek Hil Nursery in Leola, PA. This relationship is relatively new for us (in relation to the age of our nursery business) and it continues to grow and stabilize. Our partners at Leola nursery are great mentors, colleagues and friends and we enjoy the working and personal relationships formed through this venture very much.
Lastly, we (the people running around doing all these crazy things!) are doing A-Ok. Being married and owning multiple businesses (not to mention holding full time and part time jobs) is not the easiest thing two people can do. People often comment on where we find the time and energy to sustain our passions and pursuits. The answer is not difficult actually - we love what we do, we love connecting and networking with people, we are passionate about local food, we are animal lovers, we are horticulturists through and through and we are fortunate to have extremely supportive friends and family. The even shorter answer is that when we connect with you at the market and you enjoy our product, partake in our story and share your story back with us, it makes the hard work and the difficult times worth every minute!
Thanks for being loyal customers, for supporting local food and for reading these very long emails!
We hope to see you at the market tomorrow! Spread the word that we (North Atherton Farmers Market) are open again (PLEASE!) and stop by to say HI! We've missed you!
With gratitude and hopes for a continued wonderful spring time for you and yours,
Laura and Jay Young
Young American Growers (and Rising Spring Meat Company! - still getting used to saying that!)