After significant work from our Supply Team, we’re very excited to be bringing lamb back to member shares in 2023! We are also proud to be helping grow a unique pasture-raised lamb program right here in the Northeast.
Who is our new farming partner, and what makes Walden Local’s lamb unique?
We’re thrilled to be working with Farmer Drew in Newark Valley, New York to build a one-of-a-kind pasture-raised lamb program for our members. Drew brings a wealth of experience to the table and shares our high standards for animal welfare and pasture management. As a result of the extensive network he’s built over the years, he’s been able to access animals with superior genetics, which means exceptional tasting lamb for our members!
Walden Local’s whole animal share program is what makes this partnership possible. Since we buy the entire animal, and not just the prime cuts, Drew’s operation can be more stable and better insulated from the price fluctuations of the national market.
Why is it difficult to raise lamb in the northeast?
Large lamb operations in the Northeast are rare and most farmers who work with lamb only do so part time. A big reason for this is that pasture-raised lamb is more expensive and labor intensive than raising lamb in confinement. As a result, lots of lamb are slaughtered at a very young age just after weaning and before they have access to pasture. These lamb are typically stuffed with a medicated, high energy feed and cycled off the farm as quickly as possible. Overwintering breeding animals also requires quite a bit of barn space and feed, so some farmers might also choose to harvest larger portions of their flock prior to the colder weather.
Additionally, many processing facilities in the Northeast don’t work with smaller ruminants due to low profitability and efficiency. Because they prefer to work with larger animals that are in higher demand, processing options for lamb can be rather limited in New York and New England.
Together, all of these factors amount to an agricultural economy with a few more hurdles for lamb farmers. Our program is a pretty sharp departure from this model and we are proud to say that our lambs are never given antibiotics, corn, or hormones of any kind. We believe that farms can be successful by doubling down on what’s right as opposed to cutting corners and compromising value.
What role do lambs play in a farm ecosystem?
Lambs are ruminants, like cows, and have a grass and forage based digestive system. They have a different grazing pattern than cattle and have a tremendously beneficial impact on the land when managed properly through rotational grazing. While cattle tend to prefer flatter pasture, lamb are better suited to graze on steeper, or wooded areas. These ecosystems tend to be more fragile and larger livestock might cause erosion or excessive ecological disruption. This makes them very efficient at managing land that could be challenging to larger ruminants and well suited to the rolling hills and steep slopes of the Northeast landscape.
Why did lamb leave shares?
As many of you may remember, in 2020, we here at Walden made the difficult decision to remove lamb from our monthly shares. This was mainly because our partners at the time were not able to provide enough lamb to supply our member program while upholding Walden’s industry leading standards for quality and animal welfare. Due to the popularity of lamb and the supply chain related challenges brought on by the pandemic, this was not a decision we made lightly, but providing our members with a consistent product that met our standards was not something we could compromise on.
We recognize that the choices we make as a company have a significant impact on our region’s agricultural economy, the environment, animal welfare, and the health of our member community. This is why we are dedicated to doing things the right way, even if it means making hard decisions along the way.
Will adding lamb to my share cost more?
Lamb is much more expensive to raise and process than other proteins (like cattle, pigs and chickens). As a result, adding lamb to your share will add $10 to your monthly share cost. This additional fee allows us to continue supporting the growth of our unique lamb program with farmer Drew. We also guarantee members will receive lamb in every share!
What types of cuts can I expect in my share?
The lamb cuts available in our share program may change with the season, with what’s best for the whole animal program to continue its success, or with the type of share you have selected. If you have questions about what your specific share could include, please reach out to our member experience team at firstname.lastname@example.org! Cuts you may find in your share include:
- lamb rib chop bone-in
- lamb leg steak bone-in
- lamb loin chops bone-in
- lamb leg roast boneless
- ground lamb
- lamb shank bone-in
- lamb shoulder chop bone-in
- lamb shoulder roast
- lamb denver ribs
- lamb boneless stew meat
- lamb bone-in stew meat
THANK YOU FOR HELPING US MAKE LOCAL WORK!
Adding lamb to our shares means a lot to us! Not only is lamb a protein members have been asking about for to return to shares, but lamb is another way for our community of Walden members to contribute to our regional agricultural renaissance. We believe in supporting small industrious farmers, and we can’t wait to grow with Farmer Drew and continue expanding our partner network.