• Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org
  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation
  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
  • Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org

    We've changed our website. Please update your bookmarks to LocalBanquet.org LocalBanquet.org is where you will now find the latest Local Banquet stories, a new Story of the Day update feature, features from the archives, and information on how to contribute to Local Banquet if you're interested in writing about Vermont agriculture. 

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  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation

    Back in 2007, Local Baquet ran an article by Bonnie Hudspeth on maple innovation and production in Vermont. Since then, maple production in Vermont has tripled to 1.8 million gallons a year and innovation seems to have entered a new golden (or perhaps amber) age. We did a quick maple innovation news round up for 2018 / 2019 to help everyone keep up with the some of the trends. 

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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

    In 2015, the USDA funded a project for UVM researchers to engage in discussions with Vermont farmers about the idea of being paid for ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are things farmers do that improve the environment for everyone, a common example is grass-based farms capturing carbon in the soil as a way to combat climate change. Some services happen naturally through sustainable farming, others take more of an incentive to implement, and either way some policy makers believe that farmers shoudl be compensated for their contribution. 

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Farmers Kitchen—Les poulets, s’il vous plaît

Applecheek Farm

John and Rocio Clark
John and Rocio Clark

Written By

John R. Clark

Written on

July 03 , 2013

When we’re selling at a local farmers’ market or get a call ordering a CSA share, we’re often asked, “What is a French chicken?”

I, or my wife Rocio, will often say, “Well, it’s a chicken that speaks French and has a little pointy, black mustache,” but actually we’re referring to our certified organic Red Bro chickens. These delicious birds originated from France, where they are referred to as poulet rouge (red chicken) and are found under the label “Rouge” (Red Label). The Red Label in France indicates that the chickens had plenty of space, were raised on pasture, and had grass on which to forage. Of interest, though, is that they must also meet gourmet standards. In France, the poultry are tested every year by consumers in blind taste tests. They’re rated in comparison with other poultry on appearance, taste, and texture. There are also sensory profiles performed twice a year by a jury of trained experts.

We learned about this breed from a friend of ours who was raising them and who gave us one to try. At the time, we were pasture raising the very common Cornish Cross chicken (not exactly a breed developed for foraging on pasture). When we put our first Red Bro in the oven, we thought it could not get much better than what we were already growing, but one bite and wow! We were never going back. It’s now our children’s second favorite meat from the farm—after bacon!

Not only were we surprised by the taste of these chickens, we were also surprised by their performance as pasture-raised birds. For one thing, we had almost no loss or mortality among the young birds. Second—wow! Did these birds love grass! We discovered the Red Bros to be foraging machines. When they were moved to fresh pasture, they would forget about the grain and jump right into grazing. We figured we went from 15 percent of diet being grass (Cornish Cross) to at least 50 percent of diet being grass (Red Bro).

As “foodie” farmers, we were very excited; we were not only raising a bird with superior taste and texture, but one with superiority in nutrition. When animals forage on grass, the higher the nutritional value: higher levels of vitamins, lower saturated fats, lower cholesterol, and a balance of omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Part of Applecheek Farm’s mission is “to be a model of sustainability and create healthy food that provides optimal nutrition and restores ecological capital within our soils, while providing space where community can come together to celebrate food.” Red Bro chickens fit right into that mission.

Applecheek Farm is a second-generation family farm in Hyde Park that sells beef, pork, veal, chicken, duck, milk, and eggs. You can find them at the Montpelier farmers’ market on Saturdays and the Stowe farmers’ market on Sundays. Or join their meat CSA and enjoy deliveries to Montpelier, Stowe, Waterbury, or Burlington. Contact: 802-888-4482 or applecheekfarm.com.

About the Author

John R. Clark

John R. Clark

John R. Clark of Applecheek Farm, a second-generation family farm in Hyde Park that sells beef, pork, veal, chicken, duck, milk, and eggs. You can find them at the Montpelier farmers’ market on Saturdays and the Stowe farmers’ market on Sundays. Or join their meat CSA and enjoy deliveries to Montpelier, Stowe, Waterbury, or Burlington.

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