Owner: Kris Hirth
Season: Full season one-year shares and half-shares from November-October; and four-month shares and half-shares from March-June, July-October, and November-February.
Pick-up: Once or twice per month at locations in Ann Arbor or at the farm
Cost: 1 year full share: $1290, 1 year half share: $775. 4 month full share: $525, 4 month half share: $325. Full share is 16-20 lbs. meat per month and half share is 8-10 lbs. meat per month.
Growing practice: Mostly organic, humane, hormone and antibiotic -free, grassfed, pasture raised.
Note: Full shares include eggs, and Kris is working with other grower/producers to offer farm-made cheeses and sustainably caught fish.
Kris Hirth says that care for her animals is her first priority as the main factor in being able to provide a good product. But the truth is, she also loves her animals - loves working with them, loves being around them. In addition to the humane and ethical treatment of her animals, she also prioritizes heritage breeds and organic and grass feed, although her farm is not certified organic. And for people who want to eat meat conscientiously, a membership in the meat CSA that Hirth runs with help from her two teenage sons allows people to know exactly where their food is from and how it got to their plate.
If you’ve kept up with the news lately, you know that factory farm meat production in this country is among the biggest contributors to global warming and pollution, and possibly the dirtiest secret in our entire food system. The living conditions of the animals in these industrial operations and the low-paying, difficult and dangerous jobs for workers are nothing short of horrific. In addition to this are the facts that the unintended consequences of standard antibiotic use is contributing to the creation of bacteria that are resistant to every known drug, and standard use of hormones is suspected as a cause of early onset puberty in girls.
In describing consumer attitudes toward these facts that we pretend not to know, Ruth Ozeki writes in My Year of Meats, “If we can’t act on knowledge, then we can’t survive without ignorance.” Most people probably don’t know that it doesn’t have to be this way. The collusion can end when those of us who eat meat recognize that although we have created a destructively high demand for animal protein at rock-bottom prices, there are other options. Kris Hirth and Old Pine Farm provide a delicious alternative for people who might be erstwhile vegetarians over conscientious objections to the current system.
Old Pine Farm members get a monthly box of a variety of frozen meats - beef, chicken, pork, bison, and emu. All of the animals lead natural, grass-fed, hormone and chemical-free lives on an actual bucolic family farm with a beautiful, historic red barn overlooking a lovely swimming hole.
There’s no denying it comes at a price. Without growth hormones, it takes from 16 months to 2 years to raise cattle for beef - and that’s a long time for a small farmer to be paying up to $1200 month for hay. Especially when the current factory farm infrastructure for processing and inspecting meat, and farm subsidies don’t benefit her small family operation.
Commonly working 16 hour days that include bottle-feeding lambs 3 times a day during spring lambing season, Hirth notes she’s still in the red from last year. She observes that “if you want to get away from industrial meat and away from what they’re doing to animals, then you have to realize you’re going to pay more. To do a good job and provide a good product, I can’t compete with grocery store prices.” Her meat is generally between $6-$10 per pound. And you can visit it on the hoof at the farm any time.