By Phyl Newbeck
Starting this weekend, carnivores of Chittenden County will have a new place to fulfill their craving for Vermont-raised meat. Green Pasture Meats of New Haven will be moving next door to the Bearded Frog, selling pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, and other products.
Green Pasture Meats owner Mark Smith, a Shelburne resident, has a processing plant in New Haven. Last year he opened a store at that location but he quickly developed a goal of opening an additional shop in Chittenden County thanks to a customer base which included a number of people who travelled down from Shelburne and Charlotte. At least one part of the new store will be familiar to residents. Smith has hired Jim Blaise who spent the last 22 years as a meat cutter at Shelburne Supermarket.
Smith has always wanted his business to have more of a comprehensive approach than just a meat market. Over a year ago he acquired the first USDA inspected red meat mobile slaughter unit in New England. “If you don’t control your slaughter and processing you don’t have a business,” he said. Smith gets his meat from a variety of locations in Vermont with an emphasis on Addison County. Some animals are completely grass-fed while others are grain supplemented, but only with natural grain. None of the animals are fed growth hormones or antibiotics. Green Pasture Meats grinds and makes its own sausages including breakfast links, kielbasa and sweet Italian varieties.
Smith’s grandparents were farmers in Bradford and he grew up working on farms around the Rochester areas where he was raised. He subsequently worked in construction but when that slowed down, he visited a friend in Colorado who was raising grass-fed beef “before it was fashionable.” Smith said this led him to think about all the open land in Vermont and the dairy farmers who were going out of business. “I did some anecdotal research,” he said “and when I got back, I realized Vermont could really be a good beef-producing state. We have great water, high quality hay and a good climate.” When Smith started his processing plant he received a regular stream of calls from farmers who wanted to sell to him, as well as from dairy farmers who were considering switching from milk to meat. “Processing has always been the issue,” he said. “There is a pent up demand for quality local meats.”
Smith sees his new location as “an old fashioned butcher shop” although he’ll also carry some local cheeses, bread, and wine. The store may eventually start a small delivery service. Smith believes he already has a head start thanks to Blaise. “Some people travel quite a way to have him do their cutting for them,” he said. “Cutting is an art.”
Smith is still waiting for the delivery of some display cases but hopes to open his new location this weekend. “We’re really happy to be up in this area,” he said. “People who have been driving down to New Haven have told us they’re really glad to have us here.”