At a recent Slow Food Southwest Washington monthly social, Caleb Sturtevant of Botany Bay Farms talked about his family farm in Brush Prairie that produces pasture-raised, soy-free, non-GMO chicken, beef and pork. The farm has a unique food grinding system that makes fresh food for the animals daily by the touch of a button. But what really caught my attention was the loving way that Caleb talked about his chickens.
“They have a really good life,” he told the crowd of farmers and locally grown food enthusiasts.
“I think I just wandered into an episode of ‘Portlandia,’ ” I thought to myself.
A week later, I toured Botany Bay Farm with Caleb’s wife, Kayla, and his sister, Maria. The chickens did seem happy. They are pasture-raised, they have fresh food, and on a clear day, they have a view of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. They are processed on-site and sold at a little store on the property (and at Chuck’s and New Seasons). Clark County Grown (a project through Slow Food Southwest Washington) has arranged for fresh chickens from Botany Bay Farm to be on the menu on Tuesday nights in June at Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground.
“I would like to buy all local produce,” Russell Brent, owner of Mill Creek Pub, told me. The problem is that Clark County doesn’t have a central processing and distribution center for farmers to bring their product, making it difficult for owners of larger restaurants (Mill Creek Pub can accommodate 215 inside and 100 outside) to use locally grown ingredients.
“There isn’t one farm that can provide me with 300 pounds of potatoes on a regular basis,” Russell told me. Sourcing local produce would require a full-time person dedicated to that task. Currently, Russell is on a committee seeking funding to create a central processing and storing facility (like The Redd in Portland) and distribution system. He is hoping these dinners will be one step toward a regional food system.
The Tuesday night menu will include a whole slow-roasted chicken for two slathered with locally made Silagy sauce. The sides (from Red Truck Farm) are herb-roasted potatoes and braised greens (kale and swiss chard) with bacon bathed in an apple juice reduction.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.