Farmers from across the eastern region of West Virginia traveled to the Summersville Arena and Conference Center on Monday, March 28th for the fourth Niche Meat Processing Training organized by the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition’s Meat Working Group, the Value Chain Cluster Initiative (VC2), and Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF).
Lauren Brenner from Rainbow Farm in Sandstone, WV presented on egg production. Lauren shared systems that Rainbow Farm has crafted over time for selecting a breed, ordering chicks, brooding chicks, housing, collecting, storing, washing, and marketing eggs. Quinton Jones from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) provided information regarding food safety and handling, the “Small Producer” Distributor Certification exemption, and more.
Quinton Jones with the WVDA and Chuck Talbott with WVU Extension discussed several varieties of disease amongst rabbits, how to identify disease externally and internally, and several approved methodologies for processing rabbits. Jerry Ours, Poultry and Environmental Specialist with the WVDA, followed the presentation on rabbit processing with the announcement about the WV Department of Agriculture’s Mobile Processing Unit. According to Ours, the project team is modeling the Mobile Processing Unit after existing programs in several states. The Unit is expected to include infrastructure that will accommodate for the processing of poultry, turkey, rabbit, and fish. For more information about the Mobile Processing Unit, contact Jerry Ours at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda Carter, the general manager of Foothills Pilot Plant and co-owner of Spirit Level Farm in Rutherfordton, NC, her son, and Jen Curtis, the owner of the Animal Welfare Approved mobile processing unit, traveled to the back parking lot of the Conference Center to demonstrate poultry and rabbit processing on the mobile unit. The team harvested three roosters provided by Purple Mountain Phoinix Farm and three rabbits from Hudson Farms while explaining the process and answering questions from observers.
The training provided a wealth of knowledge for each of us, and a space for the food and farm community to share experiences, struggles, and resources with one another. As we nurture similar landscapes in a shared political climate, we cannot undervalue the relationships we build with one another. If you are interested in hosting a farm tour, contact Evelyn Hartman at email@example.com or (304) 877-7920.