^ Carie Starr, owner and farmer of Cherokee Valley Bison Ranch in Thornville.
Hello, readers. Meet Carie Starr of Cherokee Valley Bison Ranch (CVBR), owner and farmer along with husband Jarrod. A friend introduced me to Carie and I have had the pleasure to visit her beautiful property and buy pasture raised meats from her home farm shop, including a free-range heritage turkey for Thanksgiving that ended up being the most delicious turkey I've ever tasted!
You can find CVBR set up in stall #17 from 4pm-7pm at the Canal Market District every Friday.
Right now they are selling bison burgers, brats and bulk ground. They have a large selection of pork sausages, pork chops, chicken breasts, thighs, wings and drums as well as whole chickens and ground turkey. Coming soon is bacon, Canadian bacon and ham. They will soon have bison steaks and roasts and will be taking orders for heritage breed thanksgiving turkeys (DO IT!) as well. They also sell free range chicken eggs (a one-stop shop, folks!)
^ Cherokee Valley Bison Ranch is a one-stop shop a range of pastured farm products.
I interviewed Carie to learn more about her farming practices and farm history. For me, it's important to know how my meat is being raised and where it's coming from.
Tell me about your farm's history? When did it begin? How did this all start?
Our farm is part of my grandmother's original harness racing farm. When I was in high school, I used to bale hay for the horses here in the fields where our farm is now. About 25 years ago grandma parceled her farm into 25 acre plots for each of her children. Our farm is on my mom's property. When Jarrod and I got the crazy notion to raise bison, we were simply living in the middle of a hay field. We read about raising bison for a couple of years and planned to start small with a few calves and build from there. An advertisement in the Columbus Dispatch changed all that. In February 2008 we went to "just look" at a herd of 14 bison and came home buffalo farmers. The herd was going to be sold to the processor if no one bought them and when we saw the herd bull Charlie it was love at first sight. He was 2000lbs of the most picture-perfect buffalo you could imagine. We couldn't let Charlie be turned into buffalo burger!! It's not bad enough that we bought a whole herd of bison but, back at home we didn't have a fence. Luckily, the people we bought them from agreed to let us keep them there until we could get a fence built. Considering neither Jarrod nor I had ever built a fence from ground zero, we did pretty well. Within 6 weeks we had 2 pastures and a backyard full of bison. Obviously we like to do things the easy way...
We have just grown from there, adding chickens, pigs and turkeys as we went.
Tell me about your farming practices.
We initially started raising bison for the flavor but the health benefits of grass fed bison are amazing. As we learned more about the industrial food system it was more and more important to us to have a food source that was non-gmo and pasture raised. The bison eat grass and hay, the pigs are the "brush hogs" so to speak as we put them anywhere that we have luscious grass to be utilized and in the fall we run them in the hickory nut grove and they keep our fence rows mowed down.
Our broiler chickens are grown in portable pens (also known as tractors ) where they are moved to fresh grass each day.The layers are completely free-range as well as the heritage breed Thanksgiving turkeys. The pigs and poultry get a custom mixed, locally grown, non-gmo, critter specific, feed ration in addition to all the greens they can eat. Not only is it extremely healthy for the animals and us but it helps to build the soil as well. Did I mention the flavor? Because we choose slower growing breeds they have time to develop lots of flavor. So what was originally just really great food for our family became something that other families wanted as well.
What can we expect at the market now and in the future?
We currently have bison burgers, brats and bulk ground. We have a large selection of pork sausages, pork chops, chicken breasts, thighs, wings and drums as well as whole chickens. And ground turkey. Coming soon is bacon, Canadian bacon and ham. We will soon have bison steaks and roasts and we will be taking orders for heritage breed thanksgiving turkeys as well. Oh and we have free range chicken eggs as well.
There ya have it. Right here in Licking County! Life is good. Be sure to follow CVBR on Facebook for updates on the farm as well as recipes and cooking tips.
Cherokee Valley Bison Ranch
12320 Lonesome Road