Field Trip: Butcher Demo at North Plain Farm

After our amazing weekend at Old Field Farm we were pretty pumped about the prospect of doing some more small-scale butcher demos. We already had plans to do another with Art and Agriculture at Old Field Farm, but we wanted to branch out as well. So when Justin Torricco of Community Cooperative Farm called to see if we'd like to participate in a pig slaughter/butcher demo/dinner he was hosting in Great Barrington (with friends at North Plain Farm and The Meat Market) it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The day of the event was crisply cold and sunny - ideal for this kind of event. Phil Leahey joined North Plain Farm owner Sean Stanton to perform the slaughter in front of about 25 people. On top of being a fantastic local pig farmer Phil works at Hilltown Pork, a custom USDA Animal Welfare Approved meat processing facility that serves lots of small farmers in the tri-state area. Before getting on with "it", Sean and Phil stressed the importance of taking a moment to recognize that this animal is giving it's life to help sustain ours. Then they got down to business, walking us through the steps of the slaughter: stunning the pig with a .22, hoisting it on a gantry, sticking it's jugular so it can bleed out swiftly, scalding it to remove the hair, and then eviscerating it before cutting it into sides.

Next it was Jake’s turn. The captive audience followed us to a demonstration table where a previously slaughtered pig was waiting. With the first side, Jake took the group through the basic cuts - Boston Butt, Picnic Ham, Loin, Belly, Spear Ribs, Sirloin Roast, Ham, and Hocks - while answering questions about pig anatomy, charcuterie, cooking, cutting, and Jake's experience.The audience was so engaged, Jake invited a few of them to help him with the remaining side. It was really amazing to watch everyone dive in!

At the end of the day there was a spit-roasted fresh ham waiting for us along with beans, and sauteed greens. We want to thank CCF, North Plain Farm, and Phil for including us in this beautiful event and we look forward to working with them again!

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