Here is a question for the beef eaters in our reading audience: do you know where your hamburger, steak, meatballs or meatloaf comes from? It might be from a cow raised in another part of the country, or even another part of the world, that endured wretched conditions. But that information is hard to come by, as the cow’s existence prior to its trip to the butcher shop is rarely detailed in food packaging.
In recent years, the farm-to-table movement has given a new priority on the sourcing of food, and this extends to beef eaters who are interested in organic and chemical-free food.
This section of New England is home to a number of independently owned and operated meat-producing farms that sell directly to consumers. For those who would rather deal directly with a local farm rather than purchase their beef from a supermarket chain, these farms can offer a glimpse of where and how the beef is sourced.
Campbell's Crooked Brook Farm, Griswold
Owner Richard H. Campbell Sr. is a fifth-generation farmer, and his son Richard H. Campbell Jr. is the sixth generation to make a career in agriculture – and his two daughters, if they follow in the family’s footsteps, will be the seventh generation. The Campbells’ retail farm stand sells USDA certified beef products, and the family guarantees their free-range cattle are raised without growth hormones or “any unhealthy products.” The family also sells fresh fruits and vegetables they grow, along with breads, pastries and bottled goods from local vendors.
92 Campbell Road, Griswold
Cranberry Meadow Farm, East Lyme
Farm owners Tom and Nancy Kalal provide consumers with organic grass-fed beef and pork for sale, along with natural honey from its pesticide-free beehives. The farm also hosts school groups for lessons on organic farming. If you can’t make it to the farm, their products are sold at the Niantic and Waterford Farmer's Markets.
80 Grassy Hill Road, East Lyme
Four Mile River Farm, Old Lyme
Nunzio and Irene Corsino have run this farm since 1985 and specialize in grass-fed Angus and Hereford beef along with open pen-raised pork and eggs from free-range chickens. The Corsinos sell a wide selection of dry-aged beef products including steaks, burgers, roasts, kebobs, oxtails and liver, as well as prepared foods including beef chili and beef vegetable soup. Beyond their farm retailing, the Corsinos can be found at roughly a half-dozen different farmer’s markets around the state.
124 Four Mile River Road, Old Lyme
Kindred Crossing, North Franklin
In business since 1912, this farm breeds heritage livestock including White Galloway cattle, Shropshire and Oxford sheep, and Yorkshire hogs. The livestock’s fresh feed has no growth hormones, antibiotics, or animal byproducts. The farm prefers consumers order their items by email for pickup at the farm by appointment during nights and weekends.
868 Route 32, North Franklin
Maple Breeze Farm, Westbrook
Owners John and Bonnie Hall can trace the farm’s history back to a royal grant to the land in the 1630s. The farm specializes in the heritage cattle breed called American Milking Devons – and the cows’ milk is fed to the farm’s pigs to produce a distinctive tasting pork. The farm’s beef products include ground hamburger, beef franks, filet mignon, ribs, shanks and beef bones, and they also supply an extensive selection of pork products plus chicken and duck eggs.
563 East Pond Meadow Road, Westbrook
Soeltl Farm, Salem
Originally created as a self-sustaining family homestead, this farm raises its own veal calves, pigs, and poultry, along with dairy cows and goats. While it has stopped growing its own beef, it sells USDA packaged ground beef sourced from another Connecticut farm. These products include sirloin steaks, rib steaks, T-bone steak and porterhouse steaks by appointment.
395 Forsyth Road, Salem
Terra Firma Farm, Stonington
Launched in 2004, this nonprofit community farm offers grass-fed Lowline Angus beef, goat and lamb plus pasture-raised pork and organic poultry and eggs. The farm also hosts educational field trips and camps, and its products are sold directly to consumers and wholesaled to local cooperatives.
330 Al Harvey Rd, Stonington