Author: Elizabeth Murphy, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University
Publish Date: Spring 2013
The on-site poultry slaughter and processing room is licensed by Oregon Department of Agriculture and operates under the producer-grower 20,000 bird per year exemption from federal inspection. It’s only one of two existing in Jackson County and the first in the state built in an existing restaurant. The white- and black-tiled processing room and adjacent egg-handling room have windows connected to the bustling kitchen, where bread bakes in brick ovens and Chef Eric Bell and staff create menus to take advantage of farm-fresh food. “It’s all about transparency here,” says brewery owner Alex Amarotico, as his son, Taylor, sorts and washes eggs for use in the upcoming week. This transparency leads to cross-pollination across all facets of the restaurant. The baker is enrolled in a six-week pasture management course, and restaurant staff rotates on and off farm, alternatively moving fences one day and serving tables the next.
A farm feasibility study, completed as part of local Ashlander, Eric Strong’s, master’s thesis, helped to make the integration of farm and restaurant possible. In this capstone pro forma, “poultry production really took the spotlight,” says Alex. In 2010, Standing Stone paid $3 per pound for organic chicken, while they could produce their own ultra-local product for a mere $2. As of 2013, even non-organic chicken now breaks $2 per pound. With these rising prices, the profit margin of pasture-raised poultry for the restaurant increases even more. Poultry also play a key role in whole farm management of the leased acreage, which has adopted a Joel Salatin-inspired grazing strategy, integrating, beef, lamb, and poultry in a year-round rotation.
Meeting demand also means changing the menu to fit farm supply, a flexible management tool that Standing Stone employs through its ever-changing board of specials. A newly customized menu has also removed some favorite dishes that don’t take advantage of what the farm produces. In the short term, that means less chicken until production increases. In the long term, Standing Stone’s popular Chicken Wings will likely stay off the menu since “there are only two of them per bird.” The exciting part for Chef Eric Bell is in “using recipes that your great-grandmother would have been familiar with.” Since Standing Stone is currently slaughtering birds of all ages, Chef Bell can take advantage of traditions that use yogurt or wine to soften older meat, resulting in classic creations like Coq au Vin. “I remember my great-grandmother yelling at my grandmother because the turkey didn’t have flavor,” recalls Chef Bell, “but these Delawares have tons of flavor.”
You can read more about Standing Stone Brewery and the One-Mile Farm at