REisen Shine Farm The meat you should eat
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015 12:00 am
By Tessa Edickm
For Columbia-Greene Media
Taste is a true testament to eating local. You cannot market taste of real food — you have to eat it to know that nutrition just tastes better.
Transparency, quality, fresh, local, chemical-free, holistic practices for land and livestock — these are the honest claims I want for our consumption habits. These are the ideas we need certified as call-outs we can depend on in our food system and on packaging to our plates.
I’m on a mission, part of a movement for change, and I won’t shut up until we collectively save the family farm, secure our food system and improve our health.
We must preserve our agrarian society and return to responsible practices in food production that sustain wellness for us all, our communities and the rich agricultural land young farmers need to commit their lives to feeding us well, not because they want to get rich, but because we all deserve good food and farming is a noble profession and a viable livelihood.
Joining a CSA isn’t only a wonderful way to connect to your food from your community, it’s educational, exciting, economical and it tastes better too.
When you subscribe to a CSA (community–supported or community–shared agriculture), you buy a “subscription” from a local farmer and provide them with “seed” money to grow food for which you receive a “share” of fresh locally grown or raised food (vegetables, fruit, cheese, eggs, poultry, meat or a combo). CSA is a new name, but reminiscent of an earlier time when people knew where their food came from, ate in harmony with the seasons and enjoyed delicious healthy diets of pure nutrition.
R’Eisen Shine Farm in Easton, Washington County, was founded by Ejay and Kimberly Eisen in 2011. They are new, young farmers with a commitment to being successful food entrepreneurs and passionate about feeding us all.
Ejay Eisen told me he grew up with a “wonderful grandmother who had a passionate love affair with food” and “I don’t know what ever made me want to farm but in my third-grade journal I wrote that I wanted to be a farmer. Intimacy with food and love for cooking has been a whole journey and process for me and ultimately lends control over what we eat.”
Told by family that farming would not be a good “life decision,” Ejay instead went to college for an experience that yielded a ton of debt with little direction — and still pursued his passion to be a farmer. Today, he is working the land, running a small business and loving it — never mind the round about way getting there from his hometown of Connecticut by way of political work in Albany that led him and Kim to the Hudson Valley.
The couple’s first venture into farming launched a year-round CSA model after finding a plot of land through the Columbia Land Conservancy’s Farmer Land Match Program. After working some very challenging soil, they switched from vegetable production to focus on livestock that they raise and process at their new location in Easton.
The “meat you should eat” is the R’Eisen Shine Farm motto and with 48 1/2 acres to care for, 3,000 chickens, 200 turkeys, 30 hogs, 10 lambs, eight meat goats, 300 rabbits and 200 ducks, scheduling is key. (Ejay admitted to a lot of phone alarms to always know what is going in and what is going out!)
The Eisens don’t ship the livestock off-farm for processing either, they believe strongly that “keeping an environment as low-stress as possible, especially during processing time, is the way to honor our work, animals and preserve flavor. All of the poultry are processed on-site and we even have a custom butcher come to the farm for our pork, lamb and goat,” said Ejay.
Ironic because Ejay and Kim both spent close to 10 years as vegetarians; the switch back forced them to take livestock care more seriously. Focused on a low-stress environment and constant monitoring of the animals with hands-on care for clean, comfortable happy beings, their care mimics nature. Committed to responsible feed (locally milled, non-gmo grain, along with a rotational grazing program) you really are what you (and the animals) eat — pure goodness!
I asked the Eisens about the switch back from being a vegetarian to carnivore and Ejay explained, “I was tired of shipping in food with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and physically I was not feeling well; not enough nutrition. I also wanted to see the process; if I can grow a chicken start to finish, and feel OK about it, it was a better process for me. And processing animals is not a grotesque act that people think and understanding the purpose the livestock has in my business and on my plate is humbling, grounding and lends a profound experience and intimate connection to my food. People ask, ‘if you care about the animals how can you kill them?’ But it’s not like that,” he continued. “I care more about the community and what goes in my body. I think it’s more ethical and grounding, it’s natural, and reminds us that we are all making decisions as animals and part of the food chain.”
Having their own state-inspected poultry processing facility “on farm” they are able to keep up with demand for chicken, turkey and rabbit — all offered in their CSA meat programs, one of the few that offer flexibility with regards to pick-up dates and locations as well as payment options for your convenience.
Ejay shared, “The animals are way less stressed than we are. Managing farm life and as a young start-up business we are trying to oversee all aspects: financials, marketing, farmers markets for sales, CSA, feeding, cleaning, processing and pasture rotation means spending time with animals and running a small business selling direct to consumers; it’s 24/7 nonstop.
“If you are not in love with farming, the financial end of it is going to be really difficult to justify. But if you are good at what you do, that means success,” he continued. “When the woman checking me out at Lowe’s says, ‘I love R’Eisen Shine Farm! We had the best turkey I have ever tasted!’ I feel pride from feeding people so well. In that moment and with that one compliment I realize the hard work I’ve been doing is so rewarding. I felt like a celebrity!”
Fortunately, the Eisens are sustaining profitability but it’s not without the challenges of hard work, long hours and unruly animals, the couple jokes. Ejay works the day-to-day farm alone as Kim helps with chores part time. She also works full time “off farm” to pay for the infrastructure needed to make it more efficient to rotate animals on pasture with fencing in place (a nightmare when you have to move fencing and the herd daily!)
Ejay told me about his business. “We are able to strike a balance and make a living, but it is at times financially challenging.”
He described a cheap food lifestyle accurately: “Missing out on a flavor experience eating food the way it is supposed to be eaten and really enjoying the experience of an interaction with farmers and chefs that grow and cook real food everyone should have not just some who can afford it.”
The Eisen’s also still manage to offer financial assistance to people who want fresh food but cannot pay a full share. Right now they offer subsidies for their food to four local food insecure families in the area and welcome donations.
Re-nourishment is vital and re-education of our food ways starts with a connection to seed and soil and meeting the people that actually make our food.
We need to commit to feeding ourselves, and our children, from local farms, our gardens and our kitchens. We must buy food from people we know and lift up our farmers with conversations to understand better and lend purchasing power. We must stock our pantries and bellies, kitchens, commissaries and restaurants with good food staples. We must re-establish pillars of health and wellness with our food dollars from the farm. It’s time folks, time that we reboot and relearn how to eat from the ground up. We all deserve nutritious good food.
You can buy a variety of different CSA farm shares from R’Eisen Shine Farm and pick up at any of their drop-off locations in Albany, Kinderhook Farmers Market and on property in Easton. You can also buy a combo share at Ten Barns Farm or Lineage Farm. Visit R’Eisen Shine blog for all of the details and sign up for information.
On Sunday, you can come to the table to try all of their farm fresh fixin’s at a restaurant in Kinderhook called the Flammerie (see below). Offering a four-course, pre-fixe meal people have the opportunity to try a good portion of what R’eisen Shine Farm grows and the chef’s commitment to sourcing local food. It’s a fun thing to do and delicious too. Get involved in our agricultural community and continue the conversation. FarmOn!
To reach Tessa Edick, email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FarmOnFarmOn.
Pre-fixe dinner, meet your farmer
Welcome spring and meet your farmer at a pre-fixe dinner Sunday at The Flammerie in Kinderhook, a R’Eisen Shine Farm partner.
R’Eisen Shine Farm and The Flammerie are teaming up to welcome spring with a four-course meal featuring the farm’s ethical, non-gmo, flavorful pastured meats. The menu will feature poultry, rabbit and other delectables prepared in The Flammerie’s remarkable German and French inspired style.
Reservations are strongly recommended, call 518-758-1509. The restaurant is open 5-10 p.m. and located at 7 Hudson St., Kinderhook.
CSA shares are available at R’Eisen Shine Farm, 5 Wrights Road, Schaghticoke, NY 12154. To learn more, call 518-366-7907, email email@example.com or visit http://reisenshinefarm.blogspot.com.
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