Spring is in the air on our farm and brewpub, and we are breaking out of the shell of restaurant norms and serving our own Standing Stone Farm chicken on our menu and specials board! This fresh start stems from our priority to source socially and environmentally responsible ingredients for our kitchen and brewery, and we’re especially proud to bring this delicious, local option to our beloved customers.
A little background: We started farming in October 2011, raising hens and cattle for restaurant eggs and beef on a 265-acre pasture just a few minutes down the road. These animals co-exist on the land using a rotational grazing system, in which the animal species follow each other in a pattern around the field to maximize land health and natural fertilization. Last spring, we started raising more poultry for meat, too, and constructing an on-site poultry processing facility, completed in January 2013.
Our Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA)-licensed facility enables us to hatch, raise and process the chickens ourselves, and bring fresh and healthful protein straight from the farm to our kitchen. We hatch eggs from our existing flock and raise them outdoors on pasture before bringing them back to our poultry processing site to be prepared for kitchen use. This farm-to-menu chicken never travels further than one mile away in its lifetime!
Out in the field, we start our chicks on organic chicken feed from the time they hatch. They then graze freely on pasture, following the cows and sheep in a pattern around the field, and organic supplemental feed. The entire time it takes to raise a full-grown chicken, from hatching to harvesting, is about 13 weeks, compared with 6 weeks for conventional chickens. These Heritage Breed birds are also physically capable of living healthy and naturally for years, compared with conventional chickens that are bred to live only a few weeks until processing.
Based on our menu needs, we will raise over 5,000 chickens a year to meet brewpub demands. Right now, we are the only restaurant in the state of Oregon to have our own processing facility as a resource, and quite possibly one of the first in the nation to have this operation on such a large scale. We are delighted to bring this fresh-food undertaking to Ashland, OR!
This new poultry-sourcing method is creating a big transformation in our kitchen. Our chicken recipes are starting in the field, and the food offerings are changing to reflect the meat that comes from smaller breed chickens, such as poultry cooked on-the-bone using more traditional methods. Our Chicken and Rosemary Noodle Soup now features our farm chicken year-round, since the flavorful meat is great for roasting and boiling. There’s lots more adjustments to come with the operation launching into full swing early summer, so keep an eye on our upcoming new menu and specials board.
At Standing Stone, we all agree this whole practice certainly gives us a deeper respect for the food that goes onto our plates, and we feel it’s important to have a closer relationship with the meals on the table. We’re certain this is an all-around win-win for our brewpub, customers and community since the grazing system we use benefits the land and animals, our employees get to be involved in all the steps, and we are able to serve a fresh product that tastes delicious!