On my way to the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association’s 2012 conference in Corvallis, OR I visited an old college friend, Audra Norris-Jacob. We had to visit our favorite Latin dance club in Portland, Andrea’s Cha Cha Club, since I hadn’t been there in 7 years. This posed a bit of a scheduling problem because we had also committed to helping her brother process 120 chickens on his farm the next morning at 6 am. True salseras do not need sleep! So we did both.
Audra’s brother, Trevor, part of a poultry co-op where a bunch of folks get together to buy chickens, grow them on his farm and then process them as a community. I was really impressed with the prototype of the chicken processing trailer developed by Jerry Tindall of Grow International. The idea is to have everything you need to process chickens in a portable system that you can bring to a farm, use, then pack back up again. Tufts is working on a similar project they’re calling the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU) in conjunction with the State of Massachusetts. I hope these kinds of projects take off in Oregon and of course in Arizona because it offers a huge benefit to small and medium scale poultry farmers.
I know from attending the NY State Council on Food Policy listening sessions a few years back that access to meat processing facilities is a major impediment to efficient regional food systems. In fact, the amazing grass fed pork, chickens, turkeys and beef my husband and I bought while living in Ithaca were grown close by, but had to go just over the border to Pennsylvania and back in order to be butchered. I’ll have to ask my new friend Leslie at L Bell Ranch here in the Prescott area about the local meat processing regulatory situation.
Warning: This video is NSFV (Not Safe for Vegetarians)!
Post script: When Vicki Norris, Audra’s sister in law, invited us in for tea and then lunch, I was blown away by how beautiful and almost unimaginably organized her home was. It turns out Vicki is a professional organizer and has appeared on HGTV’s Mission: Organization. Vicki, I wish you lived closer to me! I could use some organization tips.
And an update: The first USDA certified mobile poultry processing unit has just been launched in Northern NY.