On the Ground Update- Sourcing Poultry from Local Farms

One goal of the Local, Healthy UMass Food System Initiative is to increase the amount of lean animal proteins purchased locally, which would yield a plethora of benefits from plate to farm to region: 

  • Customers receive a product that is healthier and tastier. 
  • Local meat can be more easily traced to the farm on which it is raised and the facility at which it is slaughtered. 
  • There is higher accountability for production practices such as humane treatment and use of antibiotics. 
  • It promotes the sustainable economic development of small-scale, family farms. 
  • It improves the resiliency and food security of the region in providing its own food supply. 

In pursuit of this goal, our team has begun to research the meat farms in New England, beginning with poultry farms. Starting from over 200 farms, the list was trimmed to the sixty most viable, exemplary farms. Then, a select few were chosen out of those sixty based on how they ranked in factors including distance to the university, whether they have a wholesale operation already, if they are antibiotic free, if their animals are humanely raised, and their distribution capability. From this point, our team will start a dialogue with the most promising farms to begin building relationships. 
We have already made progress towards meeting the goal of sourcing more meat from local farms. We have established relationships with Misty Knoll Farms in Vermont (poultry), Diemand Farm in Wendell, MA (poultry), PT Farm in New Hampshire (beef and pork), and Maple Valley Farm in Hadley, MA (beef). Our largest local partner, Joe Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, MA, also began raising poultry for UMass last year and plans to ramp up production.