Rettland Farm

Rettland Farm

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Share-A-Swine Program

I've been thinking all summer about ways to get our pork onto the tables of more home cooks and families. And while our costs of production seem to go in only one direction, I knew that we had to start being mindful of the price of our product. So I started thinking about a way that we could mimic large volume sales that allow us to offer restaurants a lower price, and apply that to a group of smaller buyers.
After I came up with the skeleton of the program a few weeks ago, I asked my page-likers over on the Facebook if there was any interest in a so called "pork share" program.

There was interest. LOTS of it.

So, I came up with the Rettland Farm Share-a-Swine Program.

Basically, this allows home cooks to buy our pastured, heritage breed pork at prices below retail. I wanted to have an affordable up-front cost that didn't strain household budgets, to keep the commitment short and the burden of pickup/delivery low, and to introduce people to cuts beyond bacon and tenderloin.

I think this is a good start towards all of that.

So here's how the Rettland Farm Share-A-Swine (SAS) Progam will work:

1. By becoming a member of the SAS program, you will receive a monthly share of our heritage, seasonally pastured pork. This share will consist of some combination of pork chops, pork steaks, bacon, ham, minute steaks, and fresh sausage. You will receive these different types of cuts in relative proportion to their weight in the animal. (For example, we all wish that a pig was 99% bacon, but tragically it isn't. It is a disappointing 10% bacon, roughly. So therefore, your share will be about 10% bacon, too.) The meat will be either fresh or frozen, at our discretion, and packaged in cryovac plastic or butcher paper, also at our discretion. It will not include any liver, heart, or other organ meats.

2. The share that you receive will be based on weight, not type of cut or price. Each monthly share will be not less than 7lbs in weight.

3. The SAS Program will run for a 4 month trial run through the winter months of December, January, February, and March. If we find it to be successful for both farmer and members, I will very likely renew the program in the spring.

4. The price for EACH MONTHLY SHARE of the SAS program is $55. This includes your monthly share of meat, plus a really groovy insulated, reusuable cooler bag that you can use to haul your porcine bounty home safely. Please note: The total price for the SAS membership is $220. We are just spreading out the payment over 4 months to make it easier on your monthly budgets. You will need to pay for each monthly installment one month in advance of pickup. (For example, the first payment for the late December share pickup will be due by late November, and so on.)

***Please don't join this program if you aren't going to keep up with it for the full 4 months. If you bail on us, you're kicking us right in the pocketbook, and we'll get irritated by that fact and not want to sell you anything ever again and probably say unkind things about you around the family dinner table, and probably teach our kids some really colorful language that they'll later use in situations that are horribly embarassing to us. So if you commit, stick it out please.  It's only four months.***

***On the other hand, if you would like to pay for your membership in one up front payment, we'll offer you a nice discount. Ask me for details.***

5. The SAS shares will be available for pickup one day per month, most likely a Saturday, at Rettland Farm in Gettysburg, PA. In an effort to reach our fans in the big city, we will offer a delivery to Baltimore and Washington DC metro areas. There will be a minimum number of shares required from each area to justify the delivery (tell your friends to sign up), and a delivery surcharge of $10 per share for Baltimore and $20 for Washington DC will be added to the monthly share price.

If you can't make it to pick up your share in a given month, please let us know so we can make other arrangements. We have very limited cold storage space, so any unclaimed shares will have to be donated to the local food bank, unless other arrangements are made in advance.

6. If you are interested, please shoot me an email at and sign yourself up for the inaugural run of the Share-A-Swine program. The deadline to opt in will be Saturday, December 1, 2012.

What do you think? What did I forget? I think I hit on all the basics, but if I missed something or you have any questions, please leave it in the comment section below so everyone can see it, or contact me at

This is gonna be cool! Tell your friends!  Get in on it today!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Little Love for the Larder

Here's an email that was in my inbox earlier this week from a loyal customer, regarding the Larder at Rettland Farm:

"I am thrilled about the new Larder! In fact, I loved it so much I took a picture of it! I think this is the first time in my life I've ever eaten a chicken that was processed the same day! We opened the colby cheese as soon as we got home and had it with apple slices---it is FANTASTIC! I'm looking forward to a delicious chicken dinner tonight, and a delicious summer of your sausage on the grill.

Thanks so much for all the work you do to provide us with real food!"

--Christine M., Emmitsburg, MD

Come out this Saturday and see what all the fuss is about!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Larder at Rettland Farm

"Larder:  1.  A place where food is stored.  Pantry.  2.  A supply of food"  --Merriam Webster Dictionary

In my previous post, I made it known that I wasn't going to be on the scene at any of the great farmers markets in the area this year.  I also made it known that having contact with home cooks and their families was really important to me, so I needed an outlet where people could still find the products we work so hard to raise.

So, welcome to The Larder at Rettland Farm.

The Larder at Rettland Farm
 Pretty rustic, huh?  Yeah, it is. But you can rest easy knowing that behind that knotty pine door, there is a big old shiny modern refrigerator/freezer where all of the goodies will be kept.

"What kind of goodies", you may ask?

The answer may vary a little bit from week to week.  There will always be some kind of pork in there.  Chops or something grillable, cause that's the season we're in.  Maybe a roast or some spareribs.  Bacon when we can hold onto it.  (You folks have a serious bacon addiction, really.)  And there will always be some kind of sausage, usually one of our own original varieties like the Herb and Onion or that almost addictive Kielbasa.

The standard supply every week though, will be whole chickens.  And I'm not talking about Just Chicken.  I'm talking about the increasingly popular, pastured raised, sinfully good Rettland Farm Broiler Chicken.  But there's an added bonus:  these chickens will be fresh.  As in never frozen.  As in, so fresh they saw the sunrise that morning.  Yeah, that fresh.  This was kind of important to me, because as of now, I don't have a retail outlet where we can sell fresh chickens. 

But now I do.  The Larder at Rettland Farm.

How Does It Work?

Our little outdoor pantry shown above is located here on the farm (920 Barlow Two Taverns Road, Gettysburg PA 17325), in the parking area near the house.  You can't miss it.

It will be open (read: unlocked) from 12 pm until 7 pm every Saturday through the summer.  PLEASE NOTE:  Fresh chickens will not be available until after 12 pm on Saturdays, because they won't be harvested before then...remember I said they were going to be fresh?  Yeah, that.

It will operate on a self serve/honor system basis.  This means that you are free to check out the offerings in BOTH the fridge and the freezer, pick out what you want, and then pay the price marked on each individual package. 

Your payment in the form of check or exact cash can be placed in the Care Bear Tin container, located INSIDE the refrigerator door.  (Yes, I said Care Bear Tin....why are you snickering??  It works, OK?)

You don't have to go to the house or find someone on the farm.  Just help yourself, and throw up a hand in salute if you happen to see someone. 

I will try to put out notice on this blog and through social media as to what goodies will be available in a given week, besides the usual stuff.  So check back here Friday evenings or Saturday mornings before you head out.

That's it.  That's how The Larder at Rettland Farm will work, for now.  If you have any questions or suggestions for improvement, I'm always available at

One Request:

I would kindly ask that if you want a tour of the farm sometime to give me a call and make an appointment.  We have lots of cool stuff going on here, but there are also lots of electrified fencing, slatted barn floors, livestock guard dogs, mud, etc, etc.  Your visit will be MUCH more pleasant if we are able to point them out to you.  From a distance.

And please understand that you are coming onto a working farm at your own risk.  Unfortunately, we can't be held responsible for accidents or other unpleasant occurances while your're here.  Sorry.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sitting This One Out...

So it's time for the Farmers Market Season to kick off once again here in Home Sweet Adams County.

And so, it seems appropriate to announce that we're going to sit out the 2012 season, away from the markets.


Yeah, it was a tough decision to make. In fact, I've been mulling it over since the close of the Market last October.  I went back and forth on the issue for months, stalling the decision until the last possible moment. 

In the end, I opted to take a break from the Markets for two reasons:  I wanted to try some new marketing ideas and to focus my attention on the irons that we already had in the fire. 

But I still need to have a retail outlet.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the relationships and reputation that we've built with professional chefs.  I can't tell you what a rush it is to sit down at a bustling restaurant and see your name listed on the menu:  it's the farmers equivalent of seeing your name in lights on the marquee, I guess.

But I still NEED to see the end user of our products sometimes, to put our product in the hands of someone who is doing nothing more than trusting us to nourish themselves and the people they care about.  No flash.  No buzz.  No potential write ups in the food section of a metro newspaper.  Just getting back to the basics of feeding people.  That's what keeps my wheels turning.

So in order for me to get my fix, so to speak, we're going to be offering on farm sales this year.  We'll be open for business starting this Saturday, May 5, from 12pm-7pm. 

I'll lay out all the details in my next post, in the next day or two.  But for now, just make plans to drive on out here and pay us a visit every week or two.  I really think it will be worth your time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CSA 2012, Part 2: The Long Distance Option

So we've had a good response for the Rettland Farm Chicken Subscription Arrangement since word of it hit the streets last week. 

But a few of our followers from outside the immediate area have contacted with their regrets at not being able to participate because of the distance from their homes to the farm here in Gettysburg.  So, that got the wheels turning again here at Idea Central.

And this is what I've come up with:

To make the trip more efficient for the long haulers, I will offer a Monthly CSA Share option.  This option will be for people who can only pick up their shares once per month because of distance.  The quantity of chickens will still be the same, one per week.  The chickens will still be the same type, size, and form (whole, halves, etc) as the weekly share.  The shares will still be picked up at the farm in Gettysburg, also on Saturday.

The difference however, is that these chickens will be cryovac packaged in plastic and frozen.  And, as a result of this packaging cost and the freezing, the Monthly share will cost $15 per week.  This brings the total cost of the share for the season to $450. 

For obvious reasons, the egg share isn't available for Monthly subscriber.

This option is really intended for folks in York and Harrisburg, PA or Baltimore, Frederick, or DC.  For those of you in the Hanover area, Rettland Farm chickens will still be available for retail sale at The Carriage House Market.  As an added bonus, if you buy our chickens there, you have access to Rettland Farm pork products, beef from Sheppard Mansion Farms, and lots of other products from local growers.

Hope this helps some of you decide to join us in the inaugural Rettland Farm CSA.  If so, drop me an email at , and be sure to mention the Monthly option.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken CSA, 2012

So today I'm going to roll out a new (to us) marketing idea, a new way to get our products onto your tables.

For 2012, I'm going to start a CSA.

Yeah, that's pretty confusing. CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", (not Confederate States of America, for all of you Civil War buffs out there..) That's not much help either.

Basically, a CSA is an arrangement between a farmer (me) and a group of members or shareholders (hopefully some of you) where the farmer grows products for the members, and there is no middleman or other steps in the distribution chain. Other terms to describe it are Buyers Clubs, or Food Co-ops, or Subscription Services. The concept is pretty much the same.

Members go to a central location on a regular basis to pick up their "share" of the farm's bounty. Pretty simple. The payment for the food occurs in the beginning of the season, and then the group shares in the success of the crops or products that the farm produces over the growing season. No money changes hands at the time of sale--it has already occurred long before the delivery of the product.

Typically, CSA's are vegetable or fruit based. I don't grow fruit or vegetables, other than grass or livestock food, mainly because my thumbs are NOT green. They're black. I grow meat. thought was to form a meat CSA, specifically chickens. And since we don't really like the nebulous phrase "Community Supported Agriculture", let's change it up and personalize it. From now on, on my farm, CSA stands for "Chicken Subscription Arrangement". Cool? Good.

Here's the plan:
1. Why are we offering our products this way? I want to operate a CSA that provides fresh chickens and eggs for my members on a weekly basis. I think that this arrangement will strenghten relationships between farmer and eater, which is something that is important to me. It also ensures my members a supply of fresh food, and provides me with a stable, known quantity of products that I have to grow.

2. How does it work? Each "share" in the CSA will entitle the member to 1 pastured broiler chicken each week, usually unfrozen, usually whole, and packaged in a manner to be determined. We will also offer the option of adding 1 dozen eggs from pastured hens, also available for pick up weekly at the same time as the chicken. Each share will have a total cost for the year, and will be prepaid before the foods are produced.

3. What are the specifics on the products? This CSA will produce pastured broiler chickens, weighing approximately 4.0 lbs or more, but not less than 3.5 lbs. These chickens will typically be commercial white broiler chickens, with occasional heritage breed chickens provided as available for variety. The diet for the chickens, besides pasture, will contain whole grains (excluding corn), oilseeds, and vitamins and minerals. All processing of the chickens will occur on the farm, and be done by the farmer and/or farm employees.

The optional egg share will be made up of one dozen typically brown eggs from pastured laying hens. The eggs will be ungraded, but egg size is typically large or greater, and will not be smaller than Medium.

4. When will the CSA begin? End? The CSA will provide fresh food to the members every week from about May 15, run for about 30 weeks through the summer and end around late November or early December.

5. Where is the pick up location? The member will pick up their share at the farm, located outside of Gettysburg, PA once per week, usually Saturday. (However, if we have a concentration of people interested in becoming CSA members that live in other areas, we may have other pick up points--please ask if you think this is you, especially if you are from the Baltimore, Frederick, or Washington DC areas.) Our pickup hours will closely match the Adams County Farmers Market hours at the Gettysburg Outlets, which is only about 2 miles from the farm. That way, you can pick up your CSA share and then stop at the market for other great Adams County products, all in one trip!

6. What is the cost? The cost for 1 share in the CSA for 2012 will be $14 per week for a period of 30 weeks, for a total cost of $420. An optional egg share can be added for an additional cost of $4.00 per week. The total cost of the share will be paid by April 15, 2012, with a minimum 50% deposit due by March 1, 2012. (There may be a few limited opportunities for individuals to exchange labor doing light farm tasks in exchange for a CSA share. If you would prefer to exchange labor for a share instead of cash, please contact me.)

7. One share not enough? So your family eats more than one chicken a week, eh? OR, you are a planner and want to stock up on chickens for the winter while we are actively growing them in the summer? Good for you. Simply order as many shares as fits your needs.

8. Other benefits? Some CSAs do cool things like share recipes for harder to cook items. I'd like to teach people how to break down chickens into pieces, as some families prefer. Share tips for making stock (a must when you have access to fresh, flavorful whole chickens). Spend an hour with us on a harvesting day. Get a personalized tour of the chicken pastures. I'd be willing to do any or all of these things, if the interest was there. Anything to build a food community around our humble little chicken enterprise, and a sense of ownership for the members. What ideas do you have??

OK, team. I think I've thrown enough info at you for one sitting. Mull it over with your families this weekend. Decide if it's right for you and yours. Feel free to contact me with questions in the comment section--chances are, if you have the question, someone else does too.

If you decide you'd like to go ahead and join the inaugaral Rettland Farm Chicken Subscription Arrangement, send me an email at . We'll work out the specifics from there.

Thanks for your consideration. This is gonna be fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Has it really been that long??

Has it really been that long since I posted? June? Wow.

So my poor blog has been neglected for awhile, I know. I've been just a little busy with farm stuff, and family stuff, and any other kind of stuff that has come along that kept me from keeping you loyal blog readers up to date.

To be honest, I've also been lured into the ease and simplicity of Facebook and Twitter. It seems much easier to fire off some quick update and a picture to one of these sites than to sit down and write more than 140 characters to create a coherent post on the blog.

That's not really right, so I've made a few changes to keep the blog updated, and to make it easier to follow the blog, too.

First, you'll notice my Twitter feed in the left column. Now you can read what I'm posting to Twitter without subscribing to it yourself. You'd thank me if you knew how dumb Twitter really was. Really. You're not missing anything.

Second, just below the Twitter feed is a place to enter your email address, so you will receive anything I post here in your email inbox. No need to check here every day to see if I've updated the blog, a task which I would imagine was pretty fruitless over the last SEVEN MONTHS!

Finally, I'll try to be a little more diligent about posting here. I've got a few ideas rolling around in my head that might really benefit from the use of the blog.

I'll keep you posted. Honest.

**If anyone has any idea how to link my Facebook page to the blog, I'd really be grateful for the tip.