Kansas City Food Circle Member Grower
Parker Farms Natural Meats
GRASSFED BEEF , Katahdin LAMB, PORK, FREE RANGE EGGS & PASTURED CHICKEN.
We raise all of our livestock just as God intended. No antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts are in our feed. Our grassfed beef is not supplemented with grain in order to produce the healthiest human food possible. Our lambs are born on green pastures in the spring and are also 100% grassfed. Our laying hens and broiler chickens live in the pastures with green grass under their feet. Our hogs live outdoors on dirt and are supplemented with corn and soybeans.
Products are available in bulk or retail cuts at the farm or by delivery to select metro locations. All meat, except our chicken, is USDA-inspected and visitors are always welcome.
Call for details or directions. We also offer a YEAR-ROUND MEAT & EGG CSA.
Exceptions to Producer Pledge
We buy our day-old chicks as well as some feeder pigs, but they come from local sources that I know and trust, that understand our program.
Farmer taps local market
By Mindy Ward, Missouri Farmer Today
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 10:55 AM CST
RICHMOND — As cattle slowly stroll the hillside catching the first ray of sun on a cold winter day, sheep forage for the last bit of grass and chickens mosey through fields looking for any morsel left on the ground.
It is a picture-perfect farm setting consumers are buying into.
Two Saturdays every month, 43 green, insulated tote bags full of beef, pork, chicken and lamb make their way from this farm in Ray County to residents in the nearby Kansas City.
“These individuals know where their food comes from,” says Tom Parker of Parker Farms Natural Meats. “They are buying from a local producer.”
Parker’s farm is just a 40-minute drive from some of his customers. However, others might live just down the road. Still, he says the term “local” is something the industry cannot agree on.
“Whole Foods definition requires food called “local” to be produced within seven hours of the store it is sold at,” he says.
Some other common distances used in the buy local movement include 100 miles away, within the region in which a consumer lives, within the state, within seven hours journey of you or the store, or within a day’s journey or less of you or the store.
According to a 2008 survey by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, food produced or grown within 100 miles of where you live seems to be the most commonly accepted definition of “local.” More than two-thirds of respondents chose this distance.
Ultimately, Parker says consumers who want to pinpoint exactly where their “local” products are grown should look into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
“Our customers know where I live and how I do business,” he says. “They are free to visit the farm and see just what it takes to raise their meat.”
A CSA works under the premise of a customer paying the farmer for the product in advance. They then receive their products directly from the farmer. CSAs typically run on a share system, in which a customer will purchase a share, which provides them with product for one full year. Customers may also purchase half shares.
Since the movement started in the United States in 1984, more than several thousand CSAs focusing primarily on produce sprouted up across the county. However, Parker Farms Natural Meats is one of few CSAs in the country that offers only meat and egg products.
Parker grew up on a diversified livestock farm just three miles from his current farm. His family raised hogs, cattle and a few row crops. He started mulling the idea of a meat CSA more than a year ago.
“We thought we could get started if we had 10 people interested,” he recalls.
The family hosted a barbecue at the farm to see if people would be interested. Initial interest in late 2007 saw 18 customers. Last year, the number jumped to 24.
This year as the catch phrase “buy local” gained momentum, so did Parkers’ business. Today, they have 43 customers with two more starting in January. He believes his farm could sustain 100 customers every year.
For $1,150 annually, customers receive one share. For Parker Farms Natural Meats, that includes one-quarter side of beef, 2 lambs, one-half hog, 12 chickens and 24 dozen eggs. Customers get a portion or bundle delivered to drop-off sites the first and third Saturday each month. It breaks down to roughly $50 per delivery.
“We are priced at wholesale,” Parker explains. “The average family should be able to afford quality, healthy, locally grown meat.”
A bundle always includes two pounds of ground beef and one dozen eggs. An example of a bundle might include ground beef, ham, ground lamb, pork steaks, T-bone, stew meat and a dozen eggs.
“We vary the cuts,” Parker says. “But, it is always beef, pork and lamb and chicken twice a month. This allows us to utilize all of the animal.”
Parker says their customer base has changed.
“Several years ago, our main customer was health-conscious,” he explains. “They might have had allergy issues or wanted natural products with less fat. But, now it is driven by the buy- local crowd.”
The interaction between the farmer and the consumer is a large part of CSAs. With produce CSAs, customers generally work alongside the farmer tending the garden, helping with weeding or harvesting. Parker says that type of hands-on activity does not work in a livestock operation.
Instead, he relies on customers to make deliveries.
Customers take turns driving the 40 miles to the farm to pick up orders, each in a tote bag with name and contact information, and then drive back to drop-off points around the city.
Parker says most of the customers do not have to drive but 10 minutes from their house to pick up their share. Typically, they are waiting on the driver and the entire delivery takes 15 minutes at each site.
“It saves me in the transportation cost,” he adds. “But, it also gets my customers out to the farm every year. Two times a year, they see what is we are doing here.”
Parker says his customers enjoy seeing the farm and understanding how it works. It makes them feel “connected” to the process.