Local meat farms near Pittsburgh?
I am looking for a meat share near Pittsburgh. For example, I have a friend (not from the area) who has a poultry share where she gets 1 chicken a month from a local farmer. I'm looking for something like that. The types of meat we are looking for are beef, pork, and chicken. We live in the east end of Pittsburgh, but are willing to travel up to an hour in any direction to pick it up. Organic, grass-fed, etc are not important to us (I know it should be, but it's not). Price is important, though. We are willing to pay a little more to get locally sourced, fresh meat, but it needs to be in the same ballpark of the general prices at Giant Eagle. Does anyone have a local meat source they don't mind sharing?
I get meat from several local farms, but as far as I know none of them offer a CSA-like meat share program. Your best bet is to join Slowfood Pittsburgh's Laptop Butcher email. Once every 6-8 weeks you get an email and you can order beef, pork, chicken, lamb, etc. from various farms and have your pick-up in one location. It will typically be in the Strip at the Farmer's @ Firehouse farm market on Saturdays. Once that farm market gets going, probably in May, you'll be able to get meat there as well.
That said, none of it is in the same ballpark as GE prices. Generally speaking, you'll be paying about double, particularly for chicken. Pork and beef are somewhat more reasonable. We don't eat that much meat, so I don't mind paying extra, and we're fortunate enough to be able to afford it. Not true for everybody, so I can't fault them for not wanting to pay for it.
We get excellent whole chickens via the Kretchmann's CSA (http://kretschmannfarm.com/) - last years were raised by Steve Misera and are without a doubt the best chicken I've ever tasted. From what I recall, around $3+/lb, so they end up being around $20/chicken, but I think they're totally worth it and we get quite a few meals out of one chicken.
Another great source for locally raised meats (and a lot easier to access than the CSAs, Laptop Butcher Shop, etc.) is the vendor(s) at the East Liberty farmers market (I'm speaking of the Sat AM CoOp market next to Home Depot on Sheridan - http://agmap.psu.edu/Businesses/1655). I always found the prices to be very reasonable, certainly better than at the city-sponsored farmers markets and definitely better than at the Strip/Firehouse one.
Most of the non-chicken meat shares I've seen tend to be the "buy x% of animal, get it all at once and put in freezer". I haven't really seen anything that's of the "deliver me a little at a time". Vegetables grow a little bit at a time, large animals tend to be butchered more seasonally, so I think that's reflected in the different business models.
Thank you for the advice. I get that you need to buy the larger animal 1/2 or 1/4 at a time, we were just concerned about freezer space in getting that much meat at once! I have seen the meat vendors at the farmers @ the strip but was scared away by their prices. I will check out the East Liberty farmer's market, I live nearby and I know exactly where you are talking about. Thanks for the help!
Please let us know what you find and how it goes.
When I used to shop there more frequently, the meat, especially the specialty cuts, sold out very early (well before 9am), so make sure you go early for best selection. They (Kennedy Farms, I think) will also do special orders, so if there's something you need, you can just call them up ahead of time.
I know you said you were looking for a "share" but perhaps you interested also in local really good meat? While I also as prior poster fully endorse the Kretschmann's CSA as a distributor and provider (http://www.kretschmannfarm.com/Signup10.html) of vegetables they also distribute local neighbor's goods - grass-fed - beef and chickens (prior poster mentioned) to their members. As for local really good meat - can I mention these local farms:
Thoma (actually distributor of local farm meat) in Saxonburg (http://www.thomameat.com/) as a great location for really tasty beef and more. My husband works their fairly regularly and we drool over the resulting meals from a stop on the way home. Absolutely ruins us for Giant Eagle or Costco meats.
Mish Farms in Gibsonia (http://www.mishfarms.com/) - the real deal for beef, really good, buying from the farmer.
Eichner's in Wexford (http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M30632) for chicken and eggs. I buy the eggs but haven't tried the chickens.
I'm not financially or otherwise involved with any of these organizations other than what I spend there! Just a happy, happy customer.
Edited to add that the prices at all of the above three locations are very reasonable and sometimes even below that of Giant Eagle. (And sometimes above.)
5550 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Went to the E Lib farmer's market 2 weeks now. Found the prices VERY reasonable and the people were very helpful and friendly. Also, big bonus they take credit/debit cards so if you're short on cash that's not a problem. It is true they run out of meat early. The first week I went at 8am and the selection was already limited. This week I went at 6:30am and there was a full selection (and it was less crowded so I felt less rushed). All in all I was very happy with it!