You can have your meat, and eat it too! This became evident, as I had the chance to become acquainted with the husband and wife duo John Chrysti Roberts, owners of Olivor Heritage Farms. Olivor Heritage Farms is a Dover-based farm which specializes in the raising of pasture-raised poultry, and eggs. The farm also specializes in the production of grass-fed beef, heritage pork (such as Berkshire hog), cheese, butter, wild game meats, and pasture-raised duck. At the end, The Roberts’ mission is to encourage the public to eat more humanely-sourced and raised meat and animal products. This couple also believes in the importance of transparency, by informing consumers about where and how their products are sourced.
Aside from their products, this couple is very intentional about placing their family at the epicenter of their lives. Even their company name Olivor, was a hybrid between the names of Jon’s two grandkids: Olivor and Ivor! Before the farm began raising a wide array of livestock, the Roberts’ thought about their own family’s needs, and the value of wholesome foods. This couple wanted to make sure that they knew at all times where and how their food was being sourced, and wanted to not only instill these values upon their family, but to share this passion with the community at-large. Hence, Olivor Farms, as we know it, was born.
The following is a portion of an interview that I recently conducted with John Roberts. Please note that this interview has been lightly annotated and edited, for clarification purposes. Interested in the delicious Spicy Honey-Baked Chicken Thigh recipe I created, using their chicken? Click here.
[The Funky Spork] How long have your been farming, and what inspired you to go into this venture?
[John Roberts] My wife and I retired back in February of 2016, and began raising chickens and eggs back in 2015. We had started the farm a year beforehand and were primarily served as a source of retirement income. My former work consisted of 30+ years within the produce sector. Since my wife and I were already retired, our intention was not to start a full-time business. My interest in establishing Olivor Farms generated as a result of my frustration with meat coming from factory farms, and the inhumane treatment of animals in the process. So I originally raised beef for me and my family to consume, as a result.
We should be responsible in our supply chain. If you’re rising your animals in a healthy, clean environment, not only are they happier, but the quality of the meat will be better. It just makes sense on both sides: It’s not only good from an ethical stance, but it’s also good for our food supply. Its healthier food, its cleaner food, and the animals are more humanely raised. It’s just better all the way around, and raising livestock in this manner is completely sustainable.
[The Funky Spork] What differentiates your operation from a more conventional produce and meat operation?
[John] I’ll give you one example: In the space that we raise two of our Berkshire hogs, the conventional or factory farming type of situation would have 200-300 pigs in that area. Or, similarly to a space size where we would raise 25 chickens, a factory farming operation would raise a couple hundred chickens. So, factory farming is not as sustainable.
What we are also doing is good for everything around us, including the supporting of other farmers. For example, we work with other local farmers that grow row crops and berries. We can put our chicken tractors in their fields where they may be growing a crop, such as strawberries. As a result, our chickens leave fertilizer, and also till the land, which regenerated the land. We are getting with other farmers in the area to create a complete cycle: We will have our chickens go behind the cattle of a host farmer. As a result, the grass around the chickens begins to grow, and we can then place the cattle back in that area to consume the grass. We are therefore helping to create a sustainable cycle.
[The Funky Spork] Are there any other types of sustainable practices that you are utilizing in your operations?
[John] We use Non-GMO feeds. We also don’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides on our land, at all. We stray away from using products, like Roundup. We don’t use any of those products or chemicals on our property or on our animals.
[The Funky Spork] What would you recommend look for, ask for, or consider when purchasing meat?
[John] Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Definitely, ask about its source. Country of origin matters, because they don’t necessarily have to label the country of origin. Most meat sources also do not have to label whether or not their products are genetically modified. So you would want to ask your vendors where does the meat come from, where is it processed, and was it genetically modified.
Labels matter: We can look at grass-fed beef, as an example. Grass-fed and grass-finished piece of meat. The finishing during the last 90 days is where all of the bad stuff takes place. If the beef is grass-finished, it’s going to more likely be sustainable pasture-raised cattle. USDA only requires that a ‘grass-fed’ label be applied to cattle which have only eaten grass for duration of 30 percent of its lifespan. Therefore, as a consumer, you will want to ask whether or not the beef you are about to purchase is grass-finished. Don’t be afraid to search the company brand online to find out where and how their meat is sourced.
Never-ever antibiotic: The antibiotic-free label is also a joke, because it’s illegal to use human antibiotics in animal production. In the meat industry, we have to different categories. Antibiotic free just means that the meat was tested antibiotic free, where most antibiotics take about 30 days to get out of an animal’s system. As a consumer, you want to ask if the product is never ever antibiotics, which means that the animal was never given antibiotics in during the course of its life.
There is economic value in locally-sourced meat: For example, if you went to McDonalds and purchased a value meal for one person, you could pay anything from $8-$10. With that same amount of money, you can buy a pound of grass-fed finished beef, hamburger bunds, and toppings for about the same cost, and feed four people. With smart choices, good shopping, and complete (heat-to-tail) use of the animal, you can have a good economic value. If the livestock is raised, and consumed properly and ethically, you can actually have a good system.
Get to know your farmer: One of the best ways to source quality meat is by supporting local farmers. You can not only get to learn more about the person farming and raising the livestock, but you will get to build a relationship, as well. We want to build a trusting, relationship with our customer, who becomes part of our family. Our customers value that we are giving them truthful information.
If you live in Hillsborough County, you can purchase Olivor Farms meat at the Brandon location of Chuck’s Natural Fields Market, located at 114 N Kings Ave, Brandon, FL 33510.
To learn more about Olivor Farms, visit www.olivorheritagefarms.com
‘Like’ and follow on Instagram: @olivorfarms