Across the nation, beef prices are skyrocketing because of coronavirus outbreaks at meat-packing plants.
But Jefferson County has its own local supply of grass-fed beef at Short’s Family Farm.
Kevin Short is working harder to meet the increase in demand for beef. But unlike larger grocery stores, Short’s hasn’t had to raise its prices beyond their annual raise of 10 cents per pound.
While the Shorts haven’t sold beef at any in-person markets this year, they are still selling to local buyers through the Port Townsend Farmers Market online site and the Kitsap Fresh and Barn2Door websites.
“I’m trying to limit what I’m selling online because we really want to serve our local customers most,” Short said. “We want to provide excellent, high-quality food for our friends and neighbors.”
He doesn’t have to worry about an outbreak of coronavirus at a meat-packing plant affecting his supply of beef: All Short’s cows are butchered at USDA-approved Buxton Meat Company, a family-owned butcher shop in Sandy, Oregon.
“We really sailed under a lucky star to find them,” Short said. “At the big factories, workers are so close together because it’s an assembly line. There’s no way for them to spread out.”
But Buxton is a small enough company that its few employees can spread out and protect themselves from spreading the virus, allowing local beef sellers like Short’s Family Farm to continue providing communities with meat.
“I hate that the coronavirus is happening, but it is good for us in a way because people really do want to buy local instead of risking it at the store,” Short said.
Short’s Family Farm offers more than beef.
“What we’re really trying to do this year is provide a one-stop shop for people, with both vegetables and beef available here,” said Samantha Janes, who runs Paradise Love & Veggies, an artful vegetable farm at Short’s Family Farm.
At the farmstand, open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., shoppers can get everything they need for a local, healthy dinner. Along with beef, Short’s sells Janes’ veggies, including kale, swiss chard, spinach, chives, herbs and a host of other leafy greens.
“I’m planting a bunch of stuff for this summer,” she said. “I’ll have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squashes, watermelon, cantaloupe and more.”
Beyond offering fresh veggies at the farmstand, Janes also offers harvest tours of her garden. People can call her to make an appointment and take a tour of the garden, while picking some fresh vegetables and herbs.
“I like doing the custom garden tours because not only am I able to educate people on how things grow, but I also get to share something with them that they’re not used to having,” Janes said.
One woman who recently came on a harvest tour didn’t realize how many different types of mint there are (Janes grows apple mint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, pineapple mint, spearmint and others) and left with a basketful of herbs to try in her cooking.
“It creates an experience where people can become part of the land,” Janes said. “I try to do what I call ‘art gardening.’ I don’t just do my veggies in rows, everything is off the meandering path. I try to make a visual spectacle of everything I grow.”
She is currently building a walkway through her garden that, weather permitting, will allow customers in walkers and wheelchairs to access the garden.
Janes’ love for gardening shines when she’s hosting a tour: She names each plant, explains when and how it grows, and gives tour-goers a chance to smell and taste edible herbs and flowers.
She is planning a pumpkin patch she hopes to debut in the fall. Surrounded by sunflowers that will grow 10 feet tall, the patch will feature all kinds of pumpkins, squashes and more.