While many people marvel over the craft of butchering and appreciate the local lens on which we at Porter Road focus, often times folks don’t quite understand how things work; they can’t comprehend why we don’t have X today, or how we could’ve run out of Y and Z when it’s only Thursday afternoon.
Somehow people seem to forget that bacon doesn’t grow on trees and they are often ignorant to the fact that chickens aren’t actually in season until the weather is warm. Due to the abundance of large-scale grocery stores that are riddled with chicken, pork, and beef galore, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that these kinds of products are readily available seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The reality of the matter is that our hard-working, local farmers have neither the means nor the capacity to produce the mass amounts of product that our ever growing and popularizing (thanks for that, by the way 😉 ) butcher shop clientele desires—if the farmers want to keep doing things the way they’re doing ‘em. For the record, all of us want them to keep doing things they way they’re doing them (that’s humane handling, free range, no hormones or antibiotics, and excellent quality of life for all our animals: the right way).
The window of opportunity for us to give our customers exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, is a very small one and it can slam shut with just the wrong gust of wind.
Fortunately, our window of meat-portunity just got a whole lot bigger.
This past Tuesday a few of us meat-lovers woke up at the crack of dawn to road-trip three hours north, destined for Marksbury Farm Market, and by the end of the day we’d formed a partnership that greatly widened the PRB meat window.
Marksbury Farm Market is a small-scale, locally owned processing facility, butcher shop, and farm market located in Lancaster, Kentucky. Marksbury partners with local farmers, all of whom who share a commitment to sustainable, humane, and all-natural production of animals as a means of providing high quality, healthy and fresh meat to the local and regional community. Their motto is: Buy Local. Eat Well.
We couldn’t agree more.
While the idea for Marksbury began a’ brewing a long while back, the processing facility, butcher shop, and farm market were constructed just four short years ago. Since then, the owners of Marksbury have been creating and strengthening relationships with their assortment of Kentucky farmers, forming what is likely the largest sustainable, humane, and all-natural processing facility in our region.
Ya see why we like ‘em?
During our tour of the facility, in which we were able to see the processing rooms for the pork, beef, lamb, and chickens, we PRB folks found that the processor goes through about 30-35 cows, 40 lamb, and 30-40 hogs in one day (those are separate days, per animal) and roughly 15 chickens a minute on chicken day. Not only are these numbers impressive for a more small-scale processor, but the facility workers also make every effort to keep the animals calm and comfortable in every step of their journey. For example, pigs are brought to their pens and cows to the neighboring pastures a day or two before they are to be processed, which gives them time to acclimate to the environment and become less fearful of their new surroundings.
Similarly, the farmers with whom Marksbury does business care about every step of each animal’s life from the beginning to the end. That’s why they pay so much attention towards the grass they grow, the feed they feed them, the habitats in which they live, and finally, choosing a processor that makes what would normally be a horrible day…something a little more palatable.
We only had enough time to visit one out of Marksbury’s eleven farms, but Clark Family Farm both looked and felt like something out of Old MacDonald’s storybook: and on that farm he had some baby chicks, fully grown chickens, egg-laying hens, white bleating goats, and free-grazing cows. Ee-i-ee-i-oh.
Todd Clark showed us the beautiful new hen house that sat in an open field of bright-green grass; he led us through the tall pastures of carefully selected Alfalfa, Bluegrass, Orchard, and Rye to get a closer look at his growing grass-fed cattle; and he showed us to the field where the goats roamed freely yet ran in the opposite direction the closer we crept.
Most of all we were thrilled to see that Clark Family Farm, very like the local Tennessee farms from which we already receive product, aligned with our core values: grass-fed, humanely raised animals, with an excellent quality of life from beginning to end, which will lead to happier and healthier customers.
Now, we know what you may be thinking: Marksbury Farm Market doesn’t fit into our two-hours-away general rule of thumb for sourcing our farmers. But au contraire! Marksbury perfectly aligns with our intent to source excellent regional products from people who hold themselves to the highest of standards and put utmost care into their work.
Not only does Marksbury get meat from the best farmers in Kentucky, but they also process their animals using the most humane means they can. You can’t get much better than that.
Except it does.
Working with a larger operation like Marksbury affords us the opportunity to receive more of what we want, at the times we want it most. Fourth of July? Bring on the ribs. Christmas season? Tenderloins, please. And as we pack up from our farm adventure and point Chris’s truck heading south? Might as well load up our coolers with six cases of free-range, all-natural, Todd Clark chickens to bring down to the shops.
So there you have it. It’s official.
We’ve gotta add a new “Regional” category to our sources chalkboards so we can proudly proclaim Marksbury Farm Market as the newest addition to our repertoire of farming partners. We just hope y’all are as incredibly excited as we are.
Bring on the meat.