I started Cairncrest Farm with the goal of making local, ethically-raised meat more widely available. Farming in a way that pays attention to the environment, animal welfare, and human health isn’t easy, but an alternative to current methods of food production is urgently needed.
From factory hog farms that mistreat their animals, to the nearly one hundred million acres devoted to growing corn, the variety and scale of problems with the food system can be overwhelming. In addition to the sheer size of American agriculture, there is a tremendous amount of opacity. It’s not easy to get a clear picture of the supply chain that brings a cow from a ranch in Wyoming to a feedlot in Colorado, then on to the slaughterhouse that kills and packs it into steaks and ground beef, which are transported to a distribution center in Kansas City that send them to a warehouse in New Jersey, from which they are trucked to supermarkets in Brooklyn.
These problems are big, and they won’t be solved all at once. I don’t expect to fix them on my own, but I do aim to make my farm a modest part of a better kind of agriculture. What this means is straightforward. My cows and sheep only ever eat grass — pasture in the summer and hay in the winter. My pigs and layers get plenty of pasture, and I also feed them grain I buy from a farmer a few towns over. I move my animals throughout the growing season, giving grass and trees time to recover between grazings. When making a decision, I try to account for its impact on not only the bottom line, but also on my community and customers, the health of my animals, the soil, water, and wildlife.
Most of all, I aim to be transparent about these choices. I’ve had discussions with vegans about the slaughterhouses I use. Other people want to know why I opt for local, non-GMO feed rather than certified organic. Recently I’ve had a number of questions about why I don’t sell grain free chicken. I’m passionate about farming, so I enjoy these conversations for their own sake, but I also see them as an important part of providing an alternative to industrial agriculture, which is premised on the idea that any practice, no matter how cruel, is acceptable so long as it is out of sight. I strive for the opposite — I want people who buy food from me to know where it comes from and how it was raised.
I have just started delivering to a few places in Brooklyn. The pick up process is similar to a CSA, in that you get your order by meeting me (or my brother) at a scheduled time and location, but unlike a CSA you choose exactly what you want to buy. You can see my farm store here. Please call me, Garth Brown, with any questions. My number is (267) 625-0542. You can also e-mail [email protected].