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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Meet your Meat

Air Date: Week of

Cows grazing in the field at Chestnut Farms. (Photo: Lisa Song)

Chestnut Farm in Hardwick, Massachusetts raises free-range animals and sells shares to members in exchange for a weekly supply of meat. Living on Earth’s Lisa Song took the farmers up on their offer to give participants a chance to tour the farm and “meet the meat.”


CURWOOD: Community Supported Agriculture has become hugely popular in many urban areas. Farmers sell shares, and the dividend is a weekly supply of fresh veg.

The charm of CSA’s as they are called is not just the fresh local food. Many also give their shareholders the chance to visit the farm, and see where their zucchini and onions and collards grow.

One CSA in Massachusetts offers a rare treat – the chance to “meet your meat”. That’s right, Chestnut Farms, in Hardwick – the state’s first meat CSA – holds regular Open Barn events.

Living on Earth’s Lisa Song went along - and brings us this sound portrait.


DENNEY: I’m Kim. And that’s my husband Rich. And we own and operate Chestnut Farms. And we raise all our animals in a humane and sustainable way.


DENNEY: We’re about much more than just putting a hamburger on your table.

A baby goat in the farm’s petting zoo during the Open Barn event.

By connecting with people and help them come out and see and pat a pig, hold a chicken, see what’s involved. I think there’s a better appreciation.


DENNEY: We don’t name the ones that we eat. When we were first starting we would do cows for ourselves and our three children were younger and we would call the cows Dindin One, Dindin Two, Dindin Three. So that it was really clear that it was gonna be dindin. And I find that the kids are very sanguine about it. The kids are fine if they know you’re raising and animal to eat. It’s the moms – which I can relate – have a little stress.


DENNEY: So you can see her and she’s a little full right now. See what a nice bum she’s got and that’s the hams and that’s what you look for as well as a long back. Which is more pork chops, more pork chops. You’re a good girl!

A pregnant pig in a “spa pen,” days before giving birth. (Photo: Lisa Song)


SONG: Can you tell me your name?

SAM: Sam.

SONG: And what do you do on the farm?

SAM: Raise the chickens. We have two kinds of eggs. We have Araucana eggs which are blue and Rhode Island Reds and Comet’s eggs are red.


SAM: And the difference between them are Araucana eggs they’re supposed to be more healthy and stronger, that’s the blue eggs. And the other kind is just the regular eggs.


WISE: My name is Marlisa Wise, and I’m the daughter of the owners and founders of Chestnut Farms.


WISE: All of our animals are naturally raised, hormone free, grass feed. I mean we’re standing looking next to the fields right now and you can see that all of those calves that are out with their mothers right now, if they were on a conventional farm would have been pulled away only days after having been born.

And here we let them nurse until they wean naturally around, you know, six, eight months. A lot of people sort of don’t want to look at animal that they are going to eat as a steak or a hamburger later.

The chickens’ nesting boxes are kept in an old school bus, which is locked at night to protect against coyotes. (Photo credit: Brian Kardon)

But for us and I think for a lot of our members it’s really important to know that the meat that you’re eating and consuming is coming from a humane place. That it lives a good long life, that it’s treated with respect and that they land is being treated with respect.


CURWOOD: Living on Earth’s Lisa Song created that audio postcard of the inhabitants of Chestnut Farm in Hardwick Massachusetts. For pictures, go to our website, loe.org

Louis Jordan “Barnyard Boogie” from The Best Of Louis Jordan (UMG Records 1975)



Chestnut Farms website


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