Let's see if I can wrap up all of 2016 in one blog post, shall we? So much has happened in one year!
We always strive to make advocating for very small processors and small farmers a priority. This year we are very pleased with the results of our efforts. In no way have we accomplished our goal of making it easier for small processors and small farmers, but it is encouraging to see such results.
In March, Greg was called to Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann's office to help rewrite the compromise for exempt poultry slaughter laws. This was legislation that allows operations smaller than Gunthorp Farms to legally operate within the state, including selling to restaurants, without the hurdles of daily meat inspection. These exemptions provide a legal framework for entry into an industry that otherwise has extreme barriers to entry. Gunthorp Farms started under exempt slaughter and has now grown to a size that requires 3 USDA inspectors everyday.
In October, we were extremely honored to host a meeting with USDA/FSIS and a number of very small processors at the farm to discuss issues that very small processors face. The Director of Policy, the Director of Field Operations, the Administrator of Humane Handling, the Head of Labeling, and the Deputy Administrator all made it out; USDA FSIS really took the meeting seriously by sending out their big shots! As a result of this meeting, USDA has agreed to have quarterly meetings with the same goal in mind. This is a huge step in the right direction and we are excited to see how the meetings in 2017 help to further the cause. (Read more about the meeting in my blog post here.)
Greg has also been involved in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Dialogue hosted by the Meridian Institute and Pew Charitable Trusts. This group was formed to begin the process of rewriting the over 100 year old Meat and Poultry Act. It is really exciting that sustainable agriculture representatives are able to have a seat at the table alongside the Vice Presidents for Food Safety of companies like Cargill, Hormel, Tyson, McDonald's, Kroger at events like this that will have an impact on our food supply.
I am excited to begin my journey in advocating for sustainable agriculture and the local food movement as well. This year I was featured in FamilyFarmed to help encourage young farmers. I was also asked to join the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership's Local Food Network Steering Committee to help develop a local food network here in this corner of the state and I am looking forward to future meetings in 2017.
Another project that is in the works is our turkey jerky! We have our labels made and approved (with our new logo of course!). Now we are just waiting for Zick's Specialty Meats (our co-packer) to have an opening in their schedule so they can take some of our turkey to make us another batch. Our turkey jerky will be hitting shelves early in 2017.
Next work in progress: our meat cave. We broke ground this fall for a meat cave that we will use to dry cure hams. When Greg went to Terra Madre with Slow Food back in 2014, he was able to taste some Spanish style hams. Ever since then, he has said that we would build a cave on the farm and make our own hams. To most people, I'm sure it sounded like he was kidding, but I could tell that he was very serious about his intentions. We broke ground this fall and are hoping to have it sealed off and ready for hams in the spring! The dry cure process will take around 12 months, so we will have dry cured hams in 2018! We will probably also make some pancetta and a few dry cured sausages.
Gunthorp Farms has always been a family operated business, but this year all of us kids have taken a bigger role in the company. Evan is the full-time processing plant manger. This year he completed his Leadership Development certificate at IPFW. The classes focused on techniques to become a better leader/manager. Over the summer, Cassidy (who is now a sophomore in high school) was getting full-time hours while managing the rollstock packaging machine. Cassidy is now managing on-farm scheduled pickup retail sales around her school and basketball schedule. I graduated from Purdue this year with a degree in Agribusiness Food Marketing and have since began working for the farm full-time as our director of sales & marketing. I love getting to work with my family on a day to day basis and it is great to see the potential myself and my siblings have within the business. I am continually thankful for the business that my parents created and the opportunities that they have blessed us with.
As for our personal lives, we have had a lot going on as well! Cassidy turned 16 and is about to get her drivers license. Evan moved out into Greg's childhood home (and is having fun doing a lot of renovating!). I got engaged to my sweet boyfriend Ed. Greg (finally) got his meniscus repaired.
This year has unfortunately had its low points as well. This year we mourn the loss of Grandpa Keller and Aunt Mel, both of who are greatly missed. Please remember to hug your loved ones and do not take any time for granted.
The Reason This Is All Possible
Thank you! You, reading this right now, are the reason we are able to do what we do. We thank you for your continual support. Without supporters like you, we could not chase our dream of raising animals the way we believe they ought to be raised. Our family business is alive and well because of supporters like you, whether you purchase our products or read our blog posts and offer support from afar.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Gunthorp Farms and we wish you a happy new year as well!
Until next time,
Allow your passion to become your purpose and it will one day become your profession.
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