MGF Poultry

Chickens

Oftentimes we’ve been asked the question “Which chickens are for meat and which are for eggs?

The short answer is that currently there are laying-type, meat-type, and dual purpose-type or utility chickens. Just like dog breeds exist because they were originally kept for specific purposes in specific places in the world, the same goes with chickens. Only there’s three uses for chickens- laying eggs, fighting and ceremony, and meat. While all chickens can be eaten for meat, for millennia the chicken’s primary role globally has been fighting and egg laying. Typically male birds were separated from the hens and fattened for the table. Today, chickens are raised primarily for meat and eggs in large indoor operations in flocks numbering in the thousands.

For the long answer:

It is important to understand that chickens and other poultry are the most efficient converters of grain calories to ‘food.’ In the past, chickens did not generate wealth like livestock (literally living wealth) did and were looked down upon in the past as peasant food. After all the chicken is still a staple and necessity for subsistence farmers and peasants around the world.

So how did we get to chicken being the most widely eaten meat in the US?While the processes of agricultural intensification, selective breeding, and industrial agriculture began on 18th century English agricultural estates and primarily focused on cattle, sheep, and to some extent pigs, chicken farming did not begin its transformation until the early 20th century on the East coast of the United States. The meat chicken of today is a very recent innovation created by poultry companies for ever-increasing profit. For an in-depth look check out this this article in The Guardian explaining much of the recent history of the industrialization of meat chicken farming in the United States.

A very important piece missing in the article is the role of women in chicken raising in the United States. Until the industrialization of chicken farming, almost all chicken farmers in the US were women, and in the South there were many successful Black women engaged in small flock raising. The industrialization of chicken farming can be seen as a gendered and racialized takeover of women’s economic agency in agriculture.

Broilers

Since mid-August, we have been raising 180 medium growing hybrid broiler chickens from Moyer’s Hatchery in Pennsylvania (see link here). This variety of chicken offers a compromise between the fast-growing Cornish Rock hybrid created by poultry companies and the traditional chicken of rural and peasant communities around the world.

The person accustomed to the Cornish Rock Cross would find a ‘traditional’ chicken somewhat of a disappointment because they have much less meat (the muscle- remember organ meat is delicious, extremely nutritious, and most respectful to the life taken!). A person accustomed to ‘traditional’ chickens would find the Cornish Rock Cross packed with meat, but devoid of flavor, mushy (overly tender), and make a lackluster chicken stock. We chose a broiler hybrid that falls in the middle- slower growing means more flavor for soups and broths, and faster growing means a meatier bird. Because they don’t develop metabolic and joint issues and are less sensitive to weather conditions these chickens can be raised much longer, do better on pasture-based systems, and experience a quality of life similar to a ‘traditional’ chicken.

We raise our chickens in mobile pens on a half-acre section of white clover. White clover is both relished by the chickens and is quite nutritious. Since the chickens are moved every day, we distribute their manure across the entire half acre section, leaving it fertilized and replenished for future crops. We have both pullets and cockerels, with the cockerels being on average about a pound larger than the pullets.

Our birds will be 4 to 6 lbs at $7 per pound. This means a bird could be anywhere from $28 to $42. Because they take longer to grow to size we have to feed and take care of them about three weeks longer than conventional broilers. This explains the higher cost. They will be available chilled (not frozen) for pick up at the farm on Thursday October 29th between 3 – 6pm, and available frozen thereafter. We recommend you age the chicken in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating, this ensures it becomes tender. We are also letting twenty live longer for a processing workshop at the farm on Sunday November 22nd. We expect these to weigh between 6 – 9 lbs.

Order our broilers here

meat pullet and cockerel

Cockerel and Pullet

Cornish game hens

Cornish game hens are the same conventional broiler chicken raised throughout the global food supply.   The only difference is that are typically processed at week 4 or 5 instead of the typical 8 weeks!  In fact, for every two pounds of feed given to these birds, you get one pound of meat.  Bred over the years by poultry companies for a larger breast size and more white meat, these birds unfortunately develop health problems later on in life if you let them reach maturity.   But with hatcheries running out of stock, we secured these birds quickly, and as we are processing them early on, they won’t experience any health problems.  In fact, out of the 200 day-old chicks we’ve ordered, we currently have 201 of them!

Cornish

They are happy and tame and friendly!   We’ve been throwing them bugs at night, and when one latches onto one, the hen immediately tumbles down the pen, dodging other chicks that are quick to take advantage of the situation.   That is, until the running chick is blocked by a team of four or five, loses control of the bug, and it’s snatched up by another – who then runs with the bug the opposite way, and the game is on!

Our first batch will be available FRESH for pick up at the farm on Friday, August 7, between 5 – 8pm.  We expect these hens to be between 1.5 – 2.0 lbs.   Our second bacth will be available FRESH for pick up at the farm on Monday August 17 between 5 and 8pm.  After that, our hens will be available FROZEN, and can be picked up at the farm or delivered with your CSA.

Out on pasture in our mobile pens they are filling up their bellies with white clover we planted for them in early April.   This (and the critters such as grasshoppers and moths) supplements their diet of certified organic chicken feed, consisting of primarily corn, soybean, wheat and minerals.  Every morning (and eventually every afternoon too) we carefully move their pen onto a set of fresh clover, ensuring a clean and hygienic environment as well as a whole new clover salad bar.

Our Mixed Flock of Layers

gray and friends

Our breeds:

  • Americaunas
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Midnight Majesty Marans
  • Sapphire Olive Egger

Pasture-raised Cortunix Quail

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Cooking with a CSA

This past week’s gorgeous harvest for week #6. Your veggie boxes may vary depending on location. Photo by: Keely

Summer CSA Week #6

Menu

(Last week of July. **Produce will vary depending on drop-off locations)

  • Bag* (*compostable) of basil
  • Slicing cucumbers
  • Green leaf lettuce OR rainbow chard
  • Walla walla onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Bundle of beets
  • Pickling cucumbers
  • Big zucchini


Cooking with a CSA

Lukas’ vegan-friendly CSA pasta (basil, scallions, garlic scapes, sugar snap peas, kale) All recipe photos by: Lukas

Lukas, part of the Movement Ground Farm (MGF) farm crew, has a culinary passion and enjoys cooking. He is committing to sharing a recipe or two each month with us. He also maintains his own blog at www.lukasdow.com, where he is documenting his farm-to-table inspired meals using his MGF share in his recipes.

One of these recipes is for a garlic scape & basil vegan-friendly pasta dish. In it, he includes many of the produce items from one of his week’s farm share: kale, sugar snap peas, garlic scapes, basil, and scallions. And here is his recipe [I made some edits for our blog purposes noted in these brackets]!

Garlic Scape & Basil Pasta

Ingredients:

  • garlic scapes
  • scallions
  • kale
  • sugar snap peas
  • basil
  • dried spaghetti
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
Before photo: All the produce

1. Boil a large pot of water to cook pasta. [When it comes to a boil, add a teaspoon or more of salt (careful, it may make the water bubble up). Add about 2-4 servings of pasta to water. Undercook pasta and remove about 2 minutes before the total suggested cooking time on spaghetti box. You will be finishing the pasta when cooking up the veggies. Set aside a cup of pasta water for the end.]

2. Wash all produce in cold water.

3. Chop garlic scapes until you reach the light green “bulb” top. Then mince as much of the tops as possible (until it’s too papery/dry).

Chopped garlic scapes & white scallion bottoms

4. Chop white parts of the scallions into thin slices. Keeping green scallion tops separate, chop into slightly thicker slices, about 1/4″, and set aside.

5. Chop kale into a rough chiffonade. [If you have long kale stems (some varieties do), keep separate and chop thinly like garlic scapes. Trim off any really old, tough, warped ends. Set aside any chopped kale stems.]

Trimming sugar snap peas

6. Trim tops and fibers off snap peas (see above photo). [If you prefer smaller pieces, roughly chop on the diagonal.]

7. Remove whole basil leaves and set aside. [If you prefer smaller pieces, stack leaves on top of each other and roughly slice.]

8. Heat a saute pan on medium low to medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to pan, and salt and pepper to taste.

9. Add any separated kale stems, white scallion bottoms, and garlic scapes. Stir for a couple minutes and coat with oil in the pan. Cover pan with lid for a couple minutes to heat through and soften kale stems.

Sauteed veggies in oil

10. Add the rest of the kale and sugar snap peas. Saute for a couple minutes.

11. [Add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the cooked pasta, green scallion tops, basil, and about 1/4 cup of cooked pasta water. Stir everything well until all ingredients are mixed and coated with the olive oil “sauce”. Add more salt and black pepper to taste if you need. Add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time, if needed, to create a coating of olive oil “sauce” for your pasta. Let sit for a couple minutes and stir again. Turn off heat, and you’re done!]

[Optional: squeeze some lemon, or add dashes of vinegar to finish off your dish. Acidity helps brighten up food. Or try a dash or two of soy sauce for an extra punch of flavor, add when you add in your pasta into the pan (refrain from adding more salt at this stage until after you taste test dish with the soy sauce). And for the non-vegan options, choose to add some grated parmesan or butter.]


Stuffed Quahogs

Lukas’ local, stuffed quahogs include MGF’s hakurei turnips, onions, & scallions. He foraged with Farmer Kohei for RI clams! All recipe photos by: Lukas

Here’s a quick recipe Lukas cooked up for stuffed clams/ quahogs (quahogs are large sized clams) using some CSA ingredients. [Note: I wrote out these directions in more detail for purposes of the blog.]

Stuffed Quahogs

Ingredients:

  • clams
  • hakurei turnips
  • onion
  • scallions
  • unseasoned breadcrumbs, or panko
  • mayonnaise
  • mustard
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • Optional: crushed red pepper flakes

1) Rinse debris & sand off clams. Then, in a large enough pot to hold your clams, fill with about 1/2″ – 1″ of water. Steam until shells open up easily.

2) Remove clam meat from shells. Set shells aside to stuff later. Roughly chop up the meat and add to a larger mixing bowl.

Finely chopped hakurei turnips.

3) Wash produce: onion, scallions, hakurei turnips. Chop finely. Keep green scallion tops separate for garnishing at the end. Add all vegetables, except green scallion tops, to clam meat bowl. (*Note: keep your vegetables to clam meat ratio to about a 3/4 cup of vegetables to 1 cup of clam meat).

4) Add about a 1/2 tablespoon each of mayonnaise and mustard to every cup of clam meat you have. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Optional: crushed chili pepper flakes.

Homemade breadcrumbs from stale bread.

5) Add about 2/3 cup – 1 cup of unseasoned bread crumbs (or crumble your own stale bread) to every cup of clam meat you have. Mix into clam bowl. Taste test, then add more seasoning, mayo, or mustard as needed.

6) Add 1 beaten egg to every cup of clam meat you have. Mix until incorporated and able to form loose balls.

7. Let clam mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes to let all ingredients incorporate. Meanwhile, rinse shells for presenting and cooking. Then, stuff shells with your mixture.

Stuffed clam shells with butter on top. Ready for the oven.

8. Once all shells are stuffed and packed with all of your clam mixture, place a thin cube of butter on top. This will create a toasted, golden crust on top when cooking.

9. Grill or broil on low until crispy on top, about 8-10 minutes.

10. Sprinkle chopped green scallion tops over finished stuffed clams. Serve hot with lemon.

Voilà!


CSA Members’ Corner

MGF ratatouille from Kara
Farmer Kohei’s vermicelli bowl (bun cha) with farm fresh veggies and swordfish.
Pickled cucumbers with onion from Abby.
Dill pickles and bread & butter pickles from Martha.
Roasted cherry tomatoes from Casey.
Fava beans & wild purslane from Sounthala.
Farmer Kohei’s grilled miso eggplant. (For a similar tasty recipe, try .)
Glazed hakurei turnips & its green tops in sesame noodles with scallion from Martha.
Shirley’s farm dinner: farm eggs, cherry tomatoes, and bittermelon with rice.
Sandy’s lacto-fermented, pickled dill cucumbers.
Abby’s oi muchim, a Korean spicy cucumber pickling, made with our cucumbers and onions.

Cool Crispy Cucumbers

Our pickling cucumbers bathing in their washing station.

Photo credit: Lukas

Summer CSA Week 4. This is a look at Providence’s shares. Other drop-off locations’ CSA boxes may vary. Photo credit: Kohei

Hello! It’s Judy again, Board member and friend of the farm. I’ll be helping out with the blog about twice a month. I’m hoping to help capture some of those wonderful food photos all the CSA members are cooking up, while finding recipe inspiration for everyone. It’s great to see what the produce from the fields turn into when it’s on your tables. Thank you for sharing your inspiring meals with us!

So you might be noticing you’re getting a lot of cucumbers right about now. Hopefully, that’s a good thing for you! It’s refreshing and hydrating (because of its high water content) in the summer heat. Lightly sweet, and crunchy as is; crisp and a pop of sour as a pickle; a hint of savory in a cocktail; and surprising when cooked. Here are some cuke-tastic (Keely’s fun word 🤗) ideas to get you enjoying your cucumbers: a handful of cucumber inspired recipes from The Kitchn.

Photo credit from The Kitchn’s Joe Lingeman. Here’s a South Asian-inspired cucumber raita, a versatile condiment for many foods.

This South Asian-inspired cucumber raita (see above photo), would be a great condiment and flavoring addition to many of your future meals! Roast some veggies and top it off with a drizzle of this. Use it as a dip for your bread. Add it to a cheese and charcuterie board. Spread it on a sandwich in place of mayo. Drizzle on top of your fried or fritter-ed zucchini! Try it as a nice dip for your roast chicken.

Photo credit from The Kitchn’s Oriana Koren. Here is a resourceful way to use your cucumber peels! A cucumber peel spread/ dip.

But my favorite that popped out from the list of cucumber recipes from The Kitchn, is one that uses up your leftover cucumber peels (see above photo)! Don’t throw them away! You could make a cucumber peel sandwich spread/ dip. Or, like me, I freeze some of my peels from apples, pear, and cucumbers, then use it later to make a blended power smoothie with a combination of veggies, fruit, and sometimes herbs.  Or blend your peels to make a cooling agua fresca, a cucumber lemonade, or cucumber peel puree ice cubes (for cold drinks with a hint of cucumber), etc.! And because Movement Ground Farm (aka MGF) uses organic methods to grow its produce, and we take the same approach in how we treat all of our land, you can feel confident in knowing that your cucumber peels are not laden with any pesticides. So use up the peels if you can, divert the waste away from your trash and landfills!

If wanting to use some of your cucumbers later and want it to last a couple weeks, you could pickle it (really, any veggie could be pickled… have okra, bok choy, onions, garlic, chili peppers, shishito peppers? Throw it in!). Here is a recipe from Food Waste Feast for a quick pickle brine recipe. Quick pickles, or fridge pickles, are like their name implies: quick (can be enjoyed as quickly as a half hour after being made but even better hours after). They utilize a brine and acid for a sour taste, rather than relying on bacteria to ferment and sour your vegetables, which takes days or weeks (think sauerkraut or kimchi). And a quick pickle is not shelf stable, it’s typically made to sit in the fridge for a short period of time.

As for cooked cucumbers, I’ve seen it used in Asian stir fries and soups. It may sound surprising, but it’s a delightful way to enjoy it in a slightly different texture. A bonus for cooking cucumbers is it’s a great technique for using up past its prime condition cukes, so don’t fret if you’ve forgotten them in the back of your fridge! Here is a Chinese style, cucumber and pork stir fry found on the blog, Appetite for China. To make it vegetarian, just leave out the meat.

CSA Cooking Corner

Farmer Kohei’s hakurei turnips & stems stir fry with fermented soybeans.
Martha’s waffled zucchini fritters with roasted beets.
Chung-Wha’s bibimbap (a kind of Korean rice bowl with a medley of cooked veggies) with hakurei turnips, radishes, and their leafy tops.
Helen’s MGF salad with salad greens, fava beans, & summer squash.
Farmer Kohei’s summer squash stir fry with scallions & liverwurst sausage.
Sandy’s cucumber pickles.
Shirley’s MGF greens & sweet basil scampi pasta.
Susana’s homemade noodle bowl with our komatsuna greens.
Emily’s caprese salad with our komatsuna greens, topped with a pesto of our Thai basil.
Lukas’ vermicelli rice noodle bowl with local fish. He used hakurei turnip, shiso leaves, Thai basil, cucumber, red onion, scallion.
Hyun Joo’s dwaenjangjjigae (a type of Korean stew) using zucchini, hakurei turnips, and the turnip greens.
Nada’s zucchini fritters.

Farm Update 6.9.2020

With the world uprising in a movement for Black Lives, we are transplanting and cultivating the soil with humble hands, torn that we cannot actively be part of the resistance but grounded in that we know that our work – and this land – will help serve the people in the years to come!

 

Not quite ready to start a full orchard – with all of the research, upfront costs, and irrigation systems required for such a long-term investment – we still wanted to get a start.   So we started small scale, with just a few paw paw, Asian pear, hardy kiwi, and fig trees.   We will see how they do over the next few years and will be sure to expand on the cultivars that do well!

20200608_074204

These figs, the Chicago Hardy, can potentially survive in our climate but should be planted next to a south facing wall or building; but since we have plans for so much renovating and re-landscaping, felt it was safer to plant them in barrels for now.

The work of re-establishing a working farm is tremendous!  And last year the launch of the CSA only months after the sale of the property, prevented us from making big strides.   So this Spring we accomplished a few small projects – re-shelling our quahog driveway and establishing a parking area; improving our washing station with a better drainage system; building a small shelter to keep our bicycles and maybe a tractor implement or two in good shape.

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And after five years of rushing to close the greenhouse when the temperature drops, or having to pull off the highway and drive back to the house when the sun unexpectedly beams through parting clouds, we finally have a greenhouse with an automated ventilation system.    A thermostat control box kicks on circulation fans as soon as the temperature reaches 70F and rolls up the greenhouse sides and opens ventilation units when the temperature hits 83F.    Far more than reducing work and worry, this unit will keep prime growing conditions for the tomatoes, husk cherries, and cucumbers that we are growing this year!

 

A update from two of our partner organizations – PrYSM and AARW

Stepping up to address the spiraling crises that COVID-19 has had on communities of color – and on social justice organizations led by people of color – six Rhode Island organizations have come together to form the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund.   As movement organizations recalibrate EVERYTHING – from tactics, strategies, funding, capacities, safety protocols, launching food and finances programs, connecting existing campaigns to the protest movement, and figuring out how to navigate and work with the emergence of new groups and mutual aid associations – this fund is a way to make sure that the grassroots, anti-racist, direct action organizations that have, for years, laid the legal, political, community groundwork for police accountability organizing, are supported and lifted.   It’s also a way for donors, funders, philanthropists, and those who can afford to re-direct their tax returns directly to support the organizations behind the movement.   Consider reaching out to the fund or organizing an outdoor socially distanced dinner party this summer to raise awareness about this fund!

 

In Boston, groups such as Dorchester Not for Sale, the Asian American Resource Workshop, Black Lives Matter Boston, Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston, New England United for Justice, Dorchester Food Co-op, have banded together to form Dorchester Community Care.    Based in language justice, anti-racist organizing, and leadership by people of color, Dorchester Community Care pairs folks who have something to give or offer with folks who are looking for assistance or help.

 

BLM

Say their names:

 

George Floyd

 

Breonna Taylor

 

Ahmaud Arbery

 

Tony McDade.

 

Funding & 990 Public Disclosure

A big BIG thank you to three organizations who helped us on on journey to become a non-profit organization.

 

The Resist Foundation has generously agreed to serve as our fiscal sponsor.

 

The Rhode Island Foundation and the Meadows Fund awarded us our first two grants, ensuring our stability and growth, even during this pandemic!  Thank you for believing in us!

A copy of our 2019 990 Tax returns is available for public view here.