Meat CSA Program to Aid Both Local Farmers and Local Watersheds
Up the Creek Meats came from the simple idea that not all farming is the same, and to farm in a way that protects our soil and water resources takes skills, knowledge and physical abilities that have value beyond that of the cost of a double quarter pounder with cheese. The abundant water resources in our area provide us with many benefits; beautiful scenery, food in the way fish and irrigation for crops, and income as a popular tourist destination.
How cattle are raised has a specific and direct influence in the quality of the watershed where they live.
What happens upstream affects water quality downstream and if we care about the quality of the water in our lakes, we should support the farmer and rancher upstream. We should understand the challenges they face to produce our food and to protect our water.
And we should pay them well for their efforts.
Starting only a few years ago with the UMN Regional Sustainable Development Partnership “Cows for Clean Water” marketing study in 2017 is one way we have been working to build support for this concept. Work on the feasibility of a mobile slaughter unit followed soon after that and is where the name Up the Creek Meats originated.
While not in production, yet, Up the Creek Meats will provide meat from producers who are committed to raising their animals in a way that protects the health and soil of their region.
This effort was recently given a big boost with the support of the MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates and the concept of “meat shares” in support of clean water. Working in conjunction with local lake associations, lake association members order shares from a producer in the watershed who is implementing adaptive grazing management on their farm or ranch and thereby protecting the health of the soil and our water resources.
As a pilot program, there are just a few producers on the list and marketing is being targeted to just a couple of local watersheds in the area, but MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates is a statewide organization and has started a campaign to educate its entire membership on the Up the Creeks Meats concept.
HDT’s work to grow good stewards and build capacity for local processing and distribution in support of area farmers and ranchers will continue, but in the meantime it’s encouraging to know that others are taking up the charge, and the understanding that agriculture done well heals.