Pork, beef and other meat are commodities that people consume every day. However, it’s a process to actually get the meat to the table. Home Place Pastures in Como, Mississippi focuses on sustainable farming and is working on becoming the first slaughter and processing plant in the state.
Home Place Pastures has been around since 1871 where it primarily started as road crop, agriculture and cattle, a conventional way of farming. Now run by Marshall Bartlett, direct marketing to restaurants has started.
“This is the fifth generation of farmers that farmed here,” said Chief Marketing Officer, John Jordan Proctor. “Marshall went to Dartmouth college and came back to start farming here. He started raising pigs and since then we’ve been working hard and trying to do all the markets.”
Proctor got started with Home Place through an internship in environmental studies while attending Ole Miss, but now is overseeing sales and marketing full time. He hopes to have the processing plant and slaughter house up and going within a couple of months.
“To be able to sell to restaurants you’ve got to be USDA approved,” said Proctor. “There’s no USDA slaughtering or processing in Mississippi. There’s one in Tennessee, but for other farmers in the state, it can really be a challenge to go and finish the process for their product. We’re hoping there’s a bottleneck need involved with this.”
Home Place Pastures will be able to offer lamb, beef,and pork once the slaughterhouse, processing plant and retail store are open.
“Once we get established there, the sky’s the limit. If we can make it profitable and keep growing and making money by providing a service, we can expand to the other part like eventually adding a poultry service.”
Along with getting USDA approved, Home Place Pastures has been working with restaurants and chefs in Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans and Oxford, selling them their home raised and custom butchered pigs, lamb and beef.
The whole mission is whole animal utilization. “We pride ourselves on being able to supply to these guys, but there’s also a whole other side we don’t understand which is taking these products and turning them into profitable dishes they can sell,” said Proctor. “That’s what we want in the end, for it to be profitable for the both of us.”
Whole animal utilization focuses on finding a place for everything they grow and raise; eating all parts of the animal, even the odd portions such as beef tongue or lamb heads–all which are important parts of the animals, but also are flavorful and good.
“Essentially you don’t waste anything,” said Proctor. “We’re encouraging restaurants to buy other cuts that are good.”
To help showcase this idea, Home Place Pastures is hosting a two-day event on Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21. Saturday will consist of a hill country party with live music and smoked meat. Sunday will start as a hangout, cook out day and end with a nice sit-down dinner by the lake on site.
Proctor said, “We’ll take every weird cut we’ve been saving up or haven’t sold and turn it over to our chefs to cook up some dishes,” said Proctor. “Cathead Vodka is sponsoring the event and the record store in town is providing a DJ. We’ve got some community involvement from local, small businesses.”
Saturday will feature Brad Hayden, a teacher from Oxford who operates his own BBQ Smokeshop and Cookout Catering. A stage will be set up for live music including many groups from the Como area. There will be alcohol provided as well. Sunday is more about featuring the chefs that Home Place Pastures works with. These chefs will take all the weird cuts, spend all day cooking them and serve them to guest for dinner.
“It’s $5 at the door and everyone can come and hang out,” said business head Marshall Bartlett. “We want to feature our chefs to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’”
Behind the scenes, however, a lot more goes into Home Place Pastures other than just executing the use of the whole animal. The whole team raises pigs, cows and lambs in a natural, outdoor environment.
“A factory farm is building a metal building and designing the whole thing to raise as much in a small space at maximum efficiency,” said Proctor. “The way we differ from that is putting our animals outside back into the environments that they thrive in so they can wallow and play. It’s a huge difference because factory farming makes animals adapt to the farm, but we accommodate the animals and adapt the farm to them.”
The pigs, lambs and cows are all kept outside in large fenced areas allowing them to roam and play. Rotational grazing is used by moving the animals to different areas, giving them fresh grass, helping them stay healthier and clean.
The emphasis on humane treatment and high quality allows high-quality markets to pop up. Being a part of the slow food movement, the product sells for more than a commodity animal shoved into a system, grown at maximum capacity and sold cheap.
“When you work with animals and see how intelligent and important they are, functioning and their social structures, it makes a huge difference than when you purchase the cheapest thing at the store,” said Proctor.
Home Place Pastures is located at 1513 Home Place Road in Como, Mississippi. They can be contacted at their website.
Paige Henderson is a HottyToddy.com intern. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.