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Posts Tagged ‘grass based farming’

Photo courtesy of Charity Lynne Burggraaf

At Sea Breeze Farm, lengthening of the days and the slightly warmer weather of February and March cause the grasses in our pastures to come out of dormancy, and allow our milk cows to eat less hay, and graze on pure, green grass.  Not only is the flavor and quality of the milk improved immensely, the cow’s production goes way up, and affords us the opportunity to make more delicious dairy-based products. Getting to produce these things for a dinner celebration lets us know that spring is close at hand.  This weekend, each item on our prix fixe menu will feature hand made dairy products that are produced with the utmost care and respect for beauty of the milk.  Join us for:

 

FIRST COURSE

prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and butter crackers

 

SECOND COURSE

ricotta gnudi with wild mushroom and shallot butter

 

INTERMEZZO

lemon/rosemary semifreddo

 

ENTREE

pork shoulder braised in buttermilk,

savoy cabbage and creme fraiche whipped potatoes

 

DESSERT

fresh bay leaf ice cream

shortbread tart with cream caramel

 

Friday and Saturday dinner service begins at 5:30pm.

Our a la carte menu  will also be available.

 

To make your reservation:

call us at 206.567.4628

 

Join us in tasting and celebrating the coming of Spring!

 

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I started writing about this a few days ago and found it too depressing to finish, so I put the idea aside.  But the topic keeps creeping into my consciousness, and frankly anything else I could say this week would feel false without first exploring this subject.

Last week I read and posted on Facebook an article published by GRIST about the increase of raids on farms and private food clubs.  Here is a link to the complete article.   Essentially there are farms in several states experiencing severe crack-downs regarding the sale and distribution of raw food through informal, communal channels.  Several friends and customers commented on the piece.  They echoed most of my own feelings:  shock, outrage, incredulous.  However I don’t believe any of these lovely folks are farmers themselves, so I was perhaps alone in imagining my own doorstep graced with armed visitors, attempting to confiscate our computers, products, etc.  Don’t even get me started on the description of the mother with young children being held at gunpoint for several hours.   (KOMO, KIRO, KING; are you listening???)

In the last ten years, we have jumped through literally hundreds of hoops to avoid such a fate.  We are a Washington State Department of Agriculture licenced facility for chicken slaughter.  We are a Washington State Department of Agriculture licensed facility for egg washing. (Yes, there is a license for this.)  We are a Washington State certified Raw Milk Dairy.  We are licensed to sell our products at three Seattle farmers markets, for each of which the King County Department of Health requires a separate permit and fee.  We are a licensed and certified winery (in accordance with the TTB/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms),  food establishment with beer & wine license (licensed and inspected by the King County Health Department) and butcher shop (inspected by the Washington State Department of Agriculture).  We employ ten of the hardest working, most incredibly talented and persevering  individuals in Washington State, for which we must tango with Washington Labor & Industries Department, not to mention the good old federal government.

All of the above is a lot of headache for a very small yet complex operation.  And there isn’t a week that goes by when we don’t wonder if it’s really worth it.   Do you know why we do it?  It’s certainly not because we see legitimacy as a road to riches.   Because we believe in it.  We believe it is all possible.  That raising healthy animals humanely, in a manner that is in true stewardship to the land, maintaining the integrity of what we produce, and delivering those products to customers that understand and value and appreciate the difference, is a viable business model. That what is good and right can be held up to the light of day.  That this type of farming can be done legitimately, without being a Rockefeller.  That there is an alternative to the corporate monster that has become our food chain.  That our health and the Earth are more important than corporate interests.  That our lives depend on it.

So we’ve jumped through the hoops.  And we continue to do so.  And we believe in the power of collaboration.  We believe in the individuals we have come to know within the regulatory entities, whom through their own experiences of health and food and agriculture see a better future together.  In fact, I wish we could discuss all of these challenges in our kitchen, over a delicious meal of farm raised chicken; pork loin braised in milk and herbs; heavenly smoked bacon.  Let’s figure out a solution to the cut & wrap ban.  But please; leave the police escorts behind.

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  We can use the official term, a Livestock Nutrient Management Program.   Today’s adventure in alternative farming was all about just that.

Running a small scale, bio-diverse farm can be challenging in more ways than we can count.  One particular challenge is how virtually all regulatory and government entities are geared toward managing and monitoring very large factory farms.  For example, all large dairies have a big challenge with managing their cow manure. The manure is usually directed into a ‘manure lagoon’, which captures the waste and run-off from a confinement operation.  The manure is then mechanically stirred, aerated, and later used as fertilizer for the farm’s pastures and crops.  Managing the ‘manure lagoon’ is important, to control the nutrient run-off and protect water systems.  We get it.  That’s why the Washington State Department of Agriculture requires all dairies to have a Poop Plan in place.

But thankfully, we don’t have a ‘manure lagoon’, nor need anything close to it.  With less than 20 cows that are rotated around 40 acres of pasture, our Poop Plan consists of a wheel barrow and a shovel for the area around the milking parlor.  The two inspectors that visited Sea Breeze Farm today were there to develop our “Livestock Nutrient Management Program,” which essentially verifies our cow/pasture ratio is in balance.   It must look pretty different from what they are used to seeing.  The cows sleep in the fields and forests.   The land does not suffer overgrazing.  The chickens gladly spread the remaining cow pies.  and hopefully we receive the seal of approval from an agency, for a practice, that on our farm seems as easy as (cow) pie.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Living according to the plan

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All Flesh is Grass

“Pasture based farming”  is not unique.  We in no way conceived of the idea.  It just happens to be the best way to achieve the tastiest meat.  So many times at our restaurant, people say that they haven’t eaten this well since they were in Italy, or France–which is a huge compliment.  But we are eating BETTER than if we were in Europe, as the pacific northwest is our home.  We are taken care of by this grass, and its’ ability to grow so well in this climate.

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Name the book where the title of this blog is from at any of our farmers markets this week, and you will recieve a free slab of bacon.

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