Artisanal Chicken Finds a Niche
At our local farm market, The Stand, we discovered a source for local, pasture-raised chicken. We’re excited about Hidden Root Farms and wish to share a little bit about them with you.
While owners Rob and Lori Brown have been raising chickens for years, Hidden Root Farms is a mere two years old. Prior to full-time chicken farming, Lori had a career in accounting and supply management. Her experiences gave her a first-hand look at the pitfalls of an industrial food chain and inspired her to explore ways ts supply her own family with homegrown and home-raised food. For Lori, a passion for humanely-raised animals and locally produced food quickly evolved into growing market vegetables and raising meat chickens.
Soon after, word spread throughout the community and people were seeking out the couple to enquire about purchasing chickens from them. In short order, the couple realized that there was a demand for local, humanely-raised chickens that was beyond their annual ability to supply. At that time, according to the Chicken Farmers of Ontario’s (CFO) Family Food Program, the maximum number of chickens they could raise and sell as farm gate sales was 300 chickens.
In 2015, the CFO introduced the Artisanal Chicken Program, a licence that permits farmers to raise between 600 and 3000 chickens a year. This new licence would allow them to raise more than 300 chickens, as the local demand evidently required, without jumping to the commercial scale. Lori and her husband considered giving up one of their two full-time incomes in exchange devoting more time and energy to their budding chicken business. In Lori’s own words, “We made the decision that life is about happiness and took the leap of one of us staying on the farm full time and going for it. Thankfully, that was me!”
This past summer, with Hidden Root Farms just a mere two years old, Lori was again approved for an Artisanal Chicken licence and raised as many birds as she could to sell to her customers. So, just what is it that is so special about Hidden Root Farms? What made it possible for them to jump from raising 300 chickens per year to over 2000? How were they able to sell that much chicken product to the local community? The answer is in the quality of meat they produce and the care they put into raising their chickens - you taste the difference.
The reason for that difference in taste, which I like to think of as what a real chicken, who has a healthy happy life should taste like is the quality of life for the chickens on Hidden Root Farms. The Brown’s operation is the polar opposite to a commercial chicken farm. Consider the following table, which highlights the quality of life the chickens of Hidden Root Farms enjoy:
The motivation for Hidden Root Farms, according to Lori, is “a passion to raise the best food for our family and our customers. We are giving people a choice of where to buy food and educating them that food doesn’t have to come in Styrofoam or from a factory.” Amen to that!
Where you can find products from Hidden Root Farms
While open during the summer months, you can find Lori selling her artisanal chicken at The Stand in Burford every other Saturday. She offers her customers whole roaster chickens, boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken wings and three different flavours of chicken sausages. She also sells her products at the Talbotville Berry Farm Market, Bailey’s Local Foods, and Fresh City Farms. For those who live closer to Hidden Root Farms, delivery is available, as are farm gate sales by appointment.
But that’s not all, chicken from Hidden Root Farms is also served in some local restaurants. You can enjoy their chicken prepared for you at Burning Kiln Winery in Turkey Point, Links at Dover Coast Golf, prepared by David’s Restaurant, and Indigio Lounge in Tillsonburg.
Yummy chicken for our freezer. I can't wait to cook it up!