When we talk about agri-tourism, a lot of the times people conjure up images of hay mazes and petting zoos — and while those are both great fun — for young and old(!), it’s just one ways of experiencing a farm.
We love seeing how a farm actually functions — hearing about the trials and tribulations of raising animals, what makes that farm different from the guy next door. A delicious taste of place doesn’t hurt either.
We got to experience a bit of just that — and then some — a couple weekends ago at a cattle farm called Hillsview Farm, part of the VG Meats collective of farms. Not only do they care for pasture raised cattle, but they also now raise free-run chickens on the property.
The Van Gronigen family runs these farm experiences once a month all summer long. It’s a chance for people in the area to see the work that goes into raising their very good beef, but also a way to connect the the family themselves.
You start your day with breakfast of the Big Beef mobile butcher. Our little group indulged in scrambled eggs and a summer vegetable fry up featuring veggies grown by the VG Farm Interns and their delicious beef bacon.
We then had a chance to tour the cow barn, feed some orphaned calves their milky breakfast — with the help of T-Bone, the farms faithful German Sheppard — meet some 2 week old chicks, and take a tractor ride through the fields.
We learned about pasture raising cows, migrating them from pasture to pasture of Queen Anne’s Lace strewn grassland, and even got to see the herd take a run. It was amazing! With one shout of ‘Come Cows!’ the whole herd came running to their farmer in hopes of new pasture. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Also on offer was a mini-workshop on breaking down chickens, both raw and cooked. We got to learn how to turn one hen into a four nights worth of dinners! It was a great way of making the connecting between the kitchen and the farm for guests, but also very educational.
With full bellies and a quickly forming farmer’s tan, we headed back to the city armed with confidence in our meatiest Feast ON Preferred Purveyor.
If you’d like to learn more about VG Meats or book their next farm tour, visit VGmeats.com. You can find their tenderness tested steaks at their Stoney Creek shop or a Longo’s Market near you.