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Fresh From Our Farmers: Farmstead meats the 'answer to the problem'

It has been nearly four years since Adam Parks, grandson of the founders of Victorian Christmas Tree Farm in Sebastopol, established Victorian Meat Co. at the family ranch. Parks, who seems to have a limitless reserve of energy, has continuously expanded the business and recently moved what he called the Chop Shop from the farm to the new Community Market in Sebastopol, making his grass-fed meat and poultry easily accessible Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At the beginning of the month, Parks began closing on Monday, in part as a nod to the market's "Meatless Monday," when prepared foods are vegetarian, and in part so he could have a day off. It also allows for weekly deep cleaning.

You can still buy Victorian Farmstead Meats at local farmers markets, too, including the Sonoma Valley Farmers Market on Friday mornings and the Santa Rosa Community Market on Saturdays.

Currently, the farm offers beef, pork, lamb, chicken and duck from Sonoma and Marin counties and quail from a farm in Woodland. Rabbit is raised in Sebastopol in a joint venture between Parks and Hagle Farm; they currently have about 20 dressed rabbits each week.

It is impossible right now to talk about local meats — or any meat, for that matter — without acknowledging the closure of Rancho Feeding Corp. in Petaluma. Parks has suffered no loss of business because of the closure and quickly found alternatives to the Petaluma facility. His beef is now processed in Eureka; pork is processed in Modesto, as is duck, which is from Salmon Creek Ranch. Chicken, too, is processed in Modesto, by a new facility that does 100 percent air chilling. Rabbit is processed in Rohnert Park, quail in Fairfield and lamb in Occidental.

Victorian Farmstead also has pastured chicken eggs. You'll find them at the farmers markets the farm attends and at Community Market in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

When asked what people concerned about the Rancho Feeding Corp. recall and closure should know, Parks is quick and articulate. "We are the answer to the problem," he says, "because we know every single animal we raise. Each animal is tagged and escorted all the way through the process."

By "we," Parks is talking not just about his own operation but also the operations of small ranchers and farmers throughout the North Bay. Knowing the sources of what you eat is the best way to ensure its wholesomeness.

"You probably shouldn't eat meat that comes from a farm or ranch that you can't visit," Parks says, underscoring the importance of knowing where your food is from.

Victorian Farmstead Meat Co., founded in 2010, attends two Sonoma County farmers markets, in Depot Park in Sonoma on Friday mornings and at the Veterans Building on Saturday mornings. Its retail counter is open Tuesday through Sunday in Community Market, located in The Barlow center in Sebastopol. For more information, visit vicfarmmeats.com or call Adam Parks at 332-4605.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" Sundays at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail her at michele @micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.


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