North Mountain Pastures

Newport, PA by Brooks

If you love traditional European salume, charcuterie, cured meats, air-dried meats, or artisan meats by any other name, then you have come to the right place!

North Mountain Pastures is me – Brooks, my wife Anna, and our two children, Kaj and Leila. We’ve been farming together on leased land for over 6 years now, and just bought our own land in the spring of 2011.

We are farmers. This means we work to produce a valuable product (meat) from the sun’s energy (grass).

Growing the highest quality food possible is our goal. We believe that good food is nutritious and delicious. We believe the way to raise livestock is to provide an environment that mimics nature and is integrated with our natural environment. Our animals thrive naturally: outdoors, eating organic pasture and grains, feeling sun and rain and even snow, clean water, plenty of space. What is good for the animals is good for our farm  – the soil is fertilized with manure and protected from erosion with permanent pasture.

The Mission

Throughout pig-raising history, people have known how to apply salt to preserve meat for when they needed it before there were refrigerators, freezers, preservatives, or irradiation. Our predecessors also knew that salted pork is no longer just pork, but becomes a new wonderful creation. There are countless ways to cure meat, from countless traditions around the world. Our mission is to continue to learn how to make the most delicious cured meats, make them from naturally raised livestock, and bring them directly to the people who will be eating it – maybe you!

We want to use this simple process of salt preservation in three ways:

  1. In an economically and environmentally forward thinking way – Preserving meat with salt rather than refrigeration moves us into the future of necessary lower energy use.
  2. To preserve knowledge and culture. Naturally curing meat can help us recapture traditional delicacies to thrill modern tastes.
  3. By adding value to a farm-raised commodity, we set an example for other farmers. The growing common vision of a food system made up of many small, diversified, local farms can become reality when farmers are able to make a living off the land again.

We ask for money to help launch an on-farm, naturally raised and processed cured meat business –one of the first of this kind in the country. Help us create a food culture marked by quality and integrity.

The Project

So here is where you come in! We’ve been making salumi small-scale in a rented facility off-farm. But we have already begun construction on a cured meat processing facility on our own farm! We need your help to finish the shop, and build our aging room.

Earth-banked Aging Room

Earth-banked means built into a hillside, kind of like a cave, using the natural, constant earth temperature to create a stable environment for drying. This will be a large room where prosciutto hams, bacon, and salamis are hung from the ceiling to properly age and dry. It will be a carefully planned, controlled environment that will age the meats to finest flavor.

By making it earth banked, the aging room will require lower energy use and operating costs. That means dry-cured, artisan meats with a tiny carbon footprint!

This cave will be excavated from the back of the shop, directly accessible from the inside of the butcher shop. Pictures to come soon!

Federal Inspection

I (Brooks) took a class for HACCP (food safety) training last spring, and so am certified to write the plans we need to produce these delicious meats under full federal inspection. Once we have our facilities completed and up to USDA inspection standards, we can sell salumi at farmer’s markets, to restaurants, and ship it anywhere in the country!

The Farm

We spent years looking for the right piece of land to call our home. In the meantime, we leased farmland and started our business. We looked at land from southern California to Maine, mostly focusing on Pennsylvania farms, and suddenly, providence! An 85-acre farmstead came up for sale a mile away from our rented farm. We have been here since spring 2011.

We are GRASS farmers first. We don’t want to till the land; our goal is to selectively provide access to permanent pasture throughout the seasons. The farm itself is mostly south facing, grassy hills, mixed in with hardwood forest. That means we have lots of nuts! Acorns, hickories, and walnuts provide some food for our pigs as we rotate them through our forest paddocks.

We have a ‘farrow to finish’ operation, which means our piglets are born here, raised here, and then turned into prosciutto here!

We have been raising pigs for over three years now, and I (Brooks) started curing pork after our first pig was butchered. Our sows are heritage breed pigs, including Tamworth, Berkshire, Yorkshire, and English Black. They farrow (have babies) outdoors or on deep bedding in a sheltered barn, and teach their piglets the virtues of grazing and rooting at an early age. We supplement their pasture diet with organically-grown grains produced in Pennsylvania, and occasionally they also get fresh whey from organic cheese-making operations. This means we have no GMO grains, no antibiotics, and nothing unnatural in our pork. Its delicious!

We are now butchering about 50 pigs a year, and curing meat in a rented facility. With your help, we will be completing a small sausage and salume shop on our farm, and building an earth-banked aging room

The Product

With the slaughter of livestock comes great responsibility – we believe their blood is on our hands and must be put to appropriate end use. To give homage to the lives and deaths of our animals, we want to express the utmost appreciation and gratitude for the gift of good meat. Beautiful Bacon.

  • We preserve purity: by using only100% natural, organic spices and unrefined sea salt. Good meats are marked by nutrient-dense richness,
  • We preserve with old-world traditional skill: by careful hand butchering and processing. Truly high quality meats are artisanal and growing rare.
  • We preserve and enhance the natural flavors by fermentation alchemy. Like grapes into wine, and milk into cheese, pork into prosciutto is simply magical. Salami and the like have unparalleled ability to satisfy the appetite and delight the senses,

Salumi are created with pork and salt (hence the sal- prefix on salami and salumi). In our case, because we raise our pigs organically, we use only the finest – Himalayan sea salt, and organic herbs and spices – no nitrites!

For whole muscle salume like prosciutto, the salt is rubbed directly on the meat with any herbs or spices, and then kept in cold storage (refrigerated) for a week to a month, depending on the size of the cut. Then it is moved to a drying room to age completely, anywhere from a month to 2 years!

Salami is a fermented sausage that is salted, spiced, ground and stuffed into a casing with a bacterial culture. We keep the sausage at a warm temperature for the duration of its fermentation (a day or two), then transfer to the drying room.

North Mountain Pastures site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *