We all know Teddy Bolkas of Thera Farms as one of Long Island’s most prestigious organic farmers and tomato whisperers. But he does much more than grow veggies; he is at the vanguard of the movement toward a more sustainable future. “Farming isn’t just what I do. Farming is who I am,” he says. One would think a 2,600-square-foot greenhouse full of hydroponic lettuce, two acres of vegetables, three beehives and 50 chickens along with a second full-time job would be enough to satisfy the itch for creating. Not for Bolkas.
He’s at it again. But this time he’s after our meat supply and he needs our help! On Long Island locavores lack access to locally raised organic meats. Bolkas wants to change that by converting his 30 acres of property in upstate New York into a pasture-raised cattle ranch. With help from his network of farmers and friends, he has the manpower, equipment, knowledge and land. What he needs from us is money for infrastructure, like a barn, irrigation and paddocks. Together we can change the future of our food supply. Visit his Kickstarter page to get involved.
A Glossary of Livestock Terms
What does “pasture raised” mean, and how does it differ from free range and grassfed? Read on.
One may assume free range means the animals are roaming freely in open pastures of grass with plenty of space, in reality animals may still be kept in feedlots where they packed tightly together. Many of these feedlots feed the animals genetically modified corn and soy.
Grassfed is a livestock farming method in which ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats) are raised on a diet of grass, which is evolutionarily designed to favor the four-chambered stomachs of their digestive systems. However, the term doesn’t cover how or where they are raised, as animals can be fed grass and still live in feedlots. The animals can also be fed grain or GMO corn right before they go off to slaughter for last-minute weight gain.
Grass finished is when ruminants eat only grass from the time they are born to when they go off to slaughter. Their diet is never supplemented with grain or corn. When fresh grass is not available during the winter, it can be supplemented with grass hay or alfalfa.
Pasture-raised cows, chickens, sheep or pigs eat, sleep, give birth and roam on open pastures of grass with access to shelter and the plants their bodies are adapted to digest. They are also grass finished. While sheep and cattle only eat the grasses, chickens and pigs are omnivores and will also feed on insects. Pasture-raised meats are lower in calories and fat, higher in vitamins and beneficial fatty acids, like omega-3, omega-6 and conjugated linoleic acid. This is exactly the kind of cattle farm Bolkas wants to raise. He wants his customers to trust that their beef was raised naturally and humanely without GMOs or uncomfortable living conditions.