Editor’s Note: This past Saturday, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals (YAP) held its first ever Summer Reach Out event at Deer Creek State Park. The event featured tours of Scioto Downs, North Market, Watershed Distillery, Bluegrass Farms, Premier Solutions Farm, Stokes Berry Farm and COSI. The final rounds of program’s discussion meet were also held at this event, with Bailey Elchinger of Deshler declared the state winner after the two final rounds of the competition.
Williams County Farm Bureau member Taysha Reitzel shared her experience from the Young Ag Professionals event on her blog, which she graciously allowed us to share here as well. See the links at the end of her post for more about the Young Ag Professionals, photos from the event and a link to Taysha’s blog.
This past weekend the Ohio Farm Bureau put on a summer tour for the Young Ag Professionals. This event really intrigued me because they had many tour options and I felt it would be a great way to network with other members of farm bureau in the state as well as learn about some great places within the state. Our tour stopped at Scioto Downs, North Market, and Watershed Distillery.
Our first stop was Scioto Downs race park. This was pretty interesting to me as I really know little about horses, especially race horses but know a couple people that actually raise harness racing horses so it was neat to make the connection. This is a very busy and dedicated sport. It was very evident that these horses are treated like royalty. Speaking with the trainers and Farrier they take great pride in the horses and the jobs that they do.
We also stopped at Watershed Distillery which is a craft distillery which makes vodka, gin, and bourbon. It is neat to see these little craft distilleries in your home state that make their main focus to stay and support the state they originated. These guys purchase all of their grains from within the state and do not push to sell a ton outside of the state as Ohio is their main focus. They have sold to markets in New York City and Chicago but only because they came to them! That’s pretty cool for a small operation! They have unique tasting spirits and you all need to give them a try!!
My favorite stop of the day was at Columbus North Market. This market is in the heart of Columbus and provides fresh local foods to the city and surrounding areas. We had the opportunity to sit down with the owners of Bluescreek Farm Meats.
They’re a farm-raised, hardworking couple who have been selling their locally raised meats since 1993. They opened their mom-and-pop shop so they could sell directly to the consumer “because their meat is too good to sell any other way.” As you can tell they are very passionate about the meat that they are providing to their customers. They raise their animals the “old fashioned way, like it should be” as they stated. Their animals are raised on a rationed grain diet along with hay. This got the wheels turning in my head and made me wonder…..Do they get many people that come to them looking for organic, grassfed, or gmo free and walk away when they say no?
I was surprised by her answer. She said that over the last 3 years they have really seen an increase in the gmo free, organic, and grassfed question but 90%-95% will still purchase from them even though they don’t carry those niche meats. She said that most people just want to know how the animals are raised and that they care about the animals. She commented that they looked into organic a few years ago and the price of grain and then the price they would have to charge their customers just wasn’t worth it. Plus the fact that they already feel they have a pretty superior product. If it ain’t broke why fix it?
I found this quite interesting. I feel it goes to show that many people may have concerns because they read it on the Internet and hear all this negative info about conventionally raised animals but when it comes down to it, just being able to talk to the people that raise the animals and hearing about the operation is all that the consumer is really after. This is why putting yourself out there for people to talk to you about why you do things they way you do and letting them see into your operation is crucial.
There is a small but very vocal sector out there that is doing its best at fear mongering but I think this just shows that when you are willing to open your doors and show transparency and show you really are just wanting to provide the best quality product out there like the Smith’s, people will trust you and your product and keep coming back for more!
Be sure to check out Bluescreeek Farms Meats both on Facebook and their website as they offer classes to help you better understand cuts of meats and sharpen up on your meat knowledge!!
Have a safe and fun 4th of July holiday!!
Taysha Reitzel is a Young Ag Professional and Williams County Farm Bureau member with a passion and drive to advocate for agriculture and the livestock industry. Check out her blog, Dirt Road Charm, where she shares her adventures in agriculture.