USDA Inspected!


Letter of Grant of Inspection

We did it! Today I received the official email from the USDA granting our inspection status as a USDA meat processing plant, a.k.a. the Butcher Shop at Sugar Mountain Farm.
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Easter Hams in Stores Today!

Ben is just leaving now for the special deliveries of Easter hams to area stores. If you’re looking for something special for your table check out our smoked hams at:

Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier (More tomorrow)

City Market Downtown in Burlington (4pm delivery)

City Market South in Burlington (5pm delivery lots of sizes!)

Morse Block Deli in Barre (Noon delivery)

Enjoy and have a Happy Easter!

-Walter

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USDA Walk Through

On this past Thursday morning, March 15th 2018, Dr. C, the regional head of meat inspection from the USDA came to view our on-farm butcher shop here at Sugar Mountain Farm. This was the big inspection we’ve been waiting for.

We’ve been operating our butcher shop for about two and a half years under state inspection and almost ten years since we first started discussing building the butcher shop. Both the USDA and state recommend starting operations at the state level for several years and then upgrading to USDA once any kinks have been smoothed out in operations.

Part of their reasoning is that the Vermont state inspection offices are just down the road from us in Montpelier so we can more easily get help from the local officials as we start up our own nano-scale meat processing facility. In fact, two of the state inspectors live just a few miles from us here in Orange town which on a per capita basis is a hot bed of avant guard small scale foodie industry tucked away in the mountains and woods.

Last August, several months before our two year mark, the local inspectors encouraged us to fill out the paperwork for upgrading from Vermont state inspected to USDA inspected. Once that was done it was a matter of waiting until the stars and snow storms aligned for us to get a chance to go the next step.

This month, prior to the USDA’s region head coming to our plant, I had emailed him our HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points a.k.a. food safety) plans, forms, label master and other documents and he had emailed me several megabytes of forms to fill out and additional material to read.

This week Dr. C visited our Big Project, right after the third major snow storm of the year. We weren’t sure if he would be able to make it up the mountain. We had only gotten about two feet of snow but hadn’t gotten plowed out as our mountain road is a lower priority than the major roads. Just in time the plows aligned and our road was clear for the visit on a lovely winter day.

We met for several hours along with the Vermont head of inspection and our regular in operations inspector – a big crowd in our tiny little butcher shop! I gave them the grand tour – he was very interested and impressed with the design and construction of the building. In addition to looking at the finished portion where we do meat processing I also showed him some of the unfinished building where we’ll later build out the slaughter floor, walk-in coolers, brine room, cave for salami, prosciutto and the likes. Together we went over operations, our HACCP plan, labels, paperwork and other details. Lots of questions and he approved of all of our innovative methods.

And the big question on your mind…

We passed!

After writing this post and then going dancing tonight I realized that not only did we pass, on the first try, but we passed with a score of 100%! I had assumed there would be things the head inspector would find that we would need to fix before we would get our final okay. Cool!

Dr. C said that he will recommend to the USDA national head office that we be approved for the upgrade from Vermont state inspection to federal (USDA) inspection. We now have our establishment number (46195) which will go on our labels and in about two weeks we’ll get the official approval. The next issue is getting all of our labels and formulations approved by FSIS at the USDA. Sometime in April we’ll officially begin operation as a USDA inspect meat processing facility, a.k.a. a butcher shop, and be able to start shipping our products out-of-state.


Sugar Mountain Farm Master Label with USDA Inspection Mark

It’s been a long haul. We’ve done it, step-by-step, with the help of a lot of people including Kickstarter backers, CSA Pre-Buyers, friends, family, an Angel and government officials who all made it possible for us to build our own on-farm USDA inspected butcher shop here at Sugar Mountain Farm. The butcher shop was financed without any bank loans, without government funs, without grants. It was the support of people like you who made it happen along with the bootstrap cash from our farm and our savings. All that hard work has paid off and we’re now processing here at Sugar Mountain Farm. Vertical integration that helps keep a bit more of the green stuff from our fields in our pockets.

Thank you everyone for all of your help!

Cheers,

Walter Jeffries

PS. Once we have the final labels and formulations approved we will be able to start shipping across state lines. At that point we’ll be contact CSA Pre-Buy and Kickstarter backers to get your final orders. We have a lot of new products like our corned pork, dry rub maple bacon and many varieties of sausages for you to choose from and we’ll be including extra meat in your packages as our thank you for all of your support and patience!

Outdoors: 24°F/4°F Sunny, Windy
Tiny Cottage: 59°F/62°F

Daily Spark: “In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal. If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.” ―Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

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Malum Prohibitum – Silly Laws on NPR


Tasty Belly Slabs for Bacon

From the News Feed: January 26th 2018 – National Public Radio’s host Krissy Clark on Market Place’s Uncertain Hour Season 2, Episode 7: Law and Odor featured Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm as an ‘expert’ on the sexual odor of pig carcasses, e.g. Boar Taint. The show is also available as an iTunes podcast. Start at minute 7, second 23 for the start of the pig smell discussion which then jumps to minute 10, second 10 up to about minute 19. Favorite phrase of the day: Malum prohibitum or silly laws.

For more news about Sugar Mountain Farm and Walter that has appeared out in the media see the News Page.

Outdoors: 4°F/19°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 52°F/59°F

Daily Spark: I not only believe in evolution, I want to help you evolve.

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30 Lb Roaster Pig Available

I have a 30 lb oven roaster pig available fresh for $245.
Delivery available along our weekly route or pickup at the farm.
If you would like the pig can be deboned leaving just the fore-trotters and head in for presentation and stuffed with your choice of sausage and meat to make an Easy Carve oven roaster pig. $400.

Figure 1/2 lb per serving for the bone-in regular oven roaster or 1/4 lb per serving for the Easy Carve.

If you would like this pig or would like to reserve another for an upcoming event email me at walterj@sugarmtnfarm.com.

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Demo & Porchetta Tasting – Village Market – Waterbury, VT



Today from 11am to 4pm we are doing a demo and tasting of our new porchetta pork rolls at Village Market in Waterbury, VT (map). Come check it out!

Outdoors: 24°F/11°F 13″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 57°F/54°F

Daily Spark: Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo. So far they have only recaptured 116 of them? -Anon

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Free Meat Success in Montpelier!



Our Free Meat offering was a great success! At mid-day on the state house lawn in Montpelier, Vermont the Agency of Agriculture had a festival featuring local agriculture. With just a week to weave it all together Ben and I registered and prepped a booth featuring Free Meat! The price was right and the meat was delicious so we were were sold out in the first hour.
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Free Meat – VT State House Lawn 10/4/2017


Free Meat on the Vermont State House Lawn!

On Wednesday, October 4th we’ll be giving away free meat on the Vermont state house lawn. The Agency of Agriculture is having a fair to show off local food producers and we’ll be there. We’ll be handing out free samples of our meat for you to try at home.
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Uncured Bacon, Celery Salt & Labeling


Make Your Own Homemade Bacon!

As I discussed back in July I’ve been doing a lot of bacon making this past year. In fact, 64 different test batches of bacon as I adjusted ingredients, aging time, cook times, cutting and more to produce the perfect bacon. After testing with friends and family, then store managers and a few chefs I introduced our new dry rub maple bacon to a small number of retail stores in July. It’s been a great success. But, the one thing that wasn’t working was the label.
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Getting a Handle on Pigs


All New Pig Handle

If you’ve been following my blog for long, or even not so long, you know that I do a lot of work in the genetics of our pigs, maintaining multiple breeding lines, selecting for more teats, ribs, longer legs, bigger shoulders, good temperament and about three dozen other criteria. What you probably didn’t know about was my pigs with improved handling characteristics like the one shown above that comes with built in side handles which are very handy during sorting and moving pigs around the fields.
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