Concerned about rumors?
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your important questions about Uproot Meats, LLC. We appreciate the ability to address your concerns and clarify any misunderstanding about our business.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of false claims made on several platforms, as well as other social media sites indicating that we have subjected our animals to harsh or inhumane conditions. This has never been the case. Our animals are our livelihood. The products we provide our CSA members meet rigorous standards of quality for sustainably raised and harvested meats. The quality of their care is reflected in the exceptional quality of those products. It would be ridiculous for us to ignore the needs of these amazing animals both for ethical and practical purposes. We do the best we can to provide them with a safe, healthy, and nourishing environment throughout all cycles of their lives.
It seems as though a few unfortunate but understandable circumstances as we transitioned our farm from Bend to our current site in Ashland are being confused with negligence and animal cruelty. To clarify, here are a few details about those circumstances that should alleviate any concerns about our ability to care for our animals: During the winter of 2016 one of our pigs walked on to our frozen pond and slipped. Rescuing her was quite a process.
We put her into a contained space for recovery and warmth in our 4500 sq. ft. pig barn. The claim that she was left in pain and not “euthanized” is false. Raising animals can be messy, noisy, and uncomfortable and unfortunate injury, illness, and unexpected death are not at all uncommon on a farm.
In the early days on our current land, we lost several younger pigs within a very short period of time. We sought answers to explain the losses through soil testing and consultation with veterinarians and other pig farmers. A couple of variables resulted from our research, high salinity in certain soil locations and a dense wild turkey presence that may have contributed to the rapid loss of our livestock.
Farming involves a great deal of trial and error. Anytime a new variable is introduced, farmers must adjust and adapt to ensure successful outcomes. In the high-desert climate of Bend, our animals were raised in large heated barns. In our transition to the much milder climate in the hills above Ashland, we knew we would be raising animals using natural shelters, also known as dynamic accumulators. We quickly learned that the dietary needs of our animals changed dramatically in this transition. Continual adjustments were required to find the proper dietary regimen to meet their needs in a new environment. Suggestions have been made erroneously that we had been “starving” our animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each time we are faced with new information about the needs of our animals, we respond by making the necessary adjustments to keep them healthy and strong. One example of this is the sourcing of our feed. Initially, we received Standing Stone Brewing Company’s spent grain to supplement the animal’s diet. Through trial and error, we found that it contained more fiber than the animals required. We are now milling our own feed and sourcing grains farm direct to ensure consistency and proper nutritional value. For the wellbeing of the animals and the quality of the end product, caloric intake in relation to the environment is extremely important.
Prior to establishing Uproot Meats, LLC, we operated a legal cannabis grow on site. All permits and licenses were legitimate and current throughout the time we were in operation. As has been mentioned here, the grow site underwent extensive excavation. As we brought that business venture to a close in May 2018 we knew it was time to focus our energy back on what mattered most to us, growing healthy food for our community. We found growing recreational cannabis to be unfulfilling in a greedy, heartless industry. As we uncovered the reality of the environmental impacts of our cannabis grow on our land, as well as our surrounding community, we realized how disconnected we had become from our values. Since that time, we have sought out the help of professionals such as landscape consultants, soil scientists, civil engineers, Lomakatsi, Jackson Soils and Water Conservation, and Department of Forestry to restore our land. Our reuse of wastewater produced by our chicken processing is a huge component in the restoration of the hillside and vegetation in general. We’re very excited to be receiving expert guidance from Oregon Department of Agriculture to ensure this nutrient-rich byproduct is put to safe and productive use. We expect to see positive changes as soon as this summer.
Water & Air Pollution
There has been a slew of misinformation being spread widely in regards to the impact of our wastewater. Here’s what’s important to know: All wastewater is tested for dilution by the Oregon Department of Agriculture before reuse and always applied at slowly controlled rates to the land. The wastewater is filtered before reaching the holding tank that supplies the wastewater to land application. The idea that our operation will be “spewing waste” back onto the land is simply untrue. Very careful consideration is put into the utilization of wastewater. The ODA has developed proper methods for wastewater utilization and nutrient uptake specific to our property and its capacity. Our methods are safe and informed by experts. We are not blindly applying wastewater to the areas of regrowth. We are developing an appropriate plan of action for the responsible use of resources so that our revegetation efforts will thrive on the nutrients from our wastewater. A huge obstacle has been how to effectively revegetate and restore the hillside without irrigation. This utilization of our wastewater will encourage efficient growth in a timely manner without irrigation, reusing water that would otherwise be put through a subsurface drain field which to us feels unsustainable and wasteful.
After thorough research of variables in dealing with our processing wastewater options and traveling to farms throughout the state last month, we have volunteered to join the ODA’s Confined Animal Feeding Operation to develop our animal waste management program. As a result, our farm will downsize the number of chickens on site to 3,380 per year (422 chicken per month for an eight-month season) and a maximum of 45 pigs per year (30 max in dry months and 15 in the wet season) over our dedicated 13-acre rotational grazing areas. This includes utilizing 2 acres of our flat acreage for the wet months. These numbers are our maximum production limits, not necessarily what we intend to raise at any given time. The numbers are based on engineered calculations to determine our land and soils threshold for manure and absorption. Regular soil nutrient testing will be performed by Chris Anderson, Livestock Water Quality Specialist, Area 4 with the ODA. His oversight will ensure nutrient levels are stabilized with regular audits of the farm’s soil to ensure 3rd party efforts of protection towards the health of our land and waterway systems.
We hope that this information has helped to clarify some very unsettling misunderstandings. The passion we have for treating the environment and our community with respect cannot be understated. We hope that our neighbors will take every opportunity to vet new information being circulated by the opposition with accurate facts.
Sonia Consani and Krista Vegter