We've now delivered to all† of the Kickstarter backers in Vermont. Thank you to all of you for all of your support! It was great to meet you and hear all the wonderful feedback.
We are now contacting folks in NH, ME, MA, RI, CT and NY to arrange to get pork to those who can meet us on our weekly delivery route within Vermont or come here to the farm. This saves the cost of shipping and makes it happen sooner since we are not yet USDA inspected so we're not able to deliver or ship outside Vermont. But, if you can meet us in Vermont, either along our route or at the farm, then we'll give you an extra big bonus of meat in addition to you being able to get your pork packages sooner. If you are outside those states but going to be in Vermont this summer or fall and want to pickup your meat just let us know.
We've now been butchering in our on-farm butcher shop here at Sugar Mountain Farm for over a year and a half. The systems are getting smooth, wrinkles ironed out and routine's established. The inspector's are very pleased with our facility and how we do the job.
In the end of March we had our first visit from a USDA inspector. They weren't technically inspecting us but rather they were inspecting the head of the Vermont meat inspection program inspect their area supervisor inspect the inspector at our plant inspect me monitor Ben as he cut and packed meat. Isn't that quite the image! While the USDA was here I got the opportunity to talk with them, show them our facility and get feedback which was great. This was one more baby-step towards us coming under USDA inspection.
Our next step down the road to USDA inspection so that we can begin shipping across state borders is to hang the evaporator for refrigeration in the cutting room. The unit is huge - it will occupy about one quarter of the ceiling space in iCutter. It is a water cooled high efficiency heat pump unit which will keep our electric bill down and drop the cutting room to refrigerator temperatures. So far we've been using the natural coolth systems built into the building. They work amazingly well, keeping the butchery room warm (35°F) in the winter when it is as low as -45°F outdoors and cool (50°F range) in the summer when it gets up to 86°F outdoors. That's pretty amazing given that there is no active heating or cooling of the butcher shop - it's all being done with the thermal mass flywheel I designed into the structure of the building.
50°F is fine for cutting the meat - it is only in the room for a brief time - but being able to have our winter temps year round will make it so that the room can be used as a walk-in cooler. The heat will be pumped into our large hot water pre-heater tank. Waste not, want not. I expect we'll have the evaporator in place in June and then the refrigeration technician will come to charge the system and start it up. After that we'll apply for our USDA inspection license which I'm told takes one to six months.
After the evaporator and a few other things are in place our next butcher shop construction project is finishing off the walk-in freezer, cooler, brine room and cave where we'll setup the initial smokehouse. Watch my blog at http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop for details as the build-out continues.
Thank you again to everyone who's been so supportive and patient in the development of our "Big Project" - the butcher shop at Sugar Mountain Farm
†I say all but there are a few who haven't yet responded to emails, phone calls or postcards. Never fear though! If you're one of those people just contact us at email@example.com to arrange to get your delicious pork.