William Morrow: Ask Your Grocer Where Those Apples Come From!
Whitmore Farm owner on his life as a DC area farmer and his favorite animal, Harriet the sheep, who speaks to him
The Meat & Potatoes
Quiche from his farm fresh eggs
Farming! It seems to always surprise people at cocktail parties, lol.
How did Whitmore Farm get it's name? Has farming always been part of your life, or were you new to the practice when you purchased the farm in 2003?
Benjamin Whitmore cleared the land and built the farmhouse back in 1764, so I thought he was more deserving of the farm name than myself. I view myself as a temporary caretaker of a historic farm. Back in 2003, my now husband Kent Ozkum, and I were living in Washington DC and thought it would be nice to get a weekend place in the country. Little did I know the adventure fate had in store for us. We quickly fell in love with rural living and set about reorganizing our lives around our new found passion. Kent found a new job in Frederick, we sold the house in DC. I closed down my Landscape Design company in DC and opened up the farm business. It was a steep learning curve. I can honestly say this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it's also been the most rewarding. I feel very fortunate.
How are chicks shipped in the mail? More of a personal question -- this is perplexing to me. Are they alive? Are they scared?
LOL, well, fortunately, they are shipped in groups of 25 chicks. I’m sure they find the company comforting. The interesting thing about chicks is that the last thing the embryo does before hatching out is absorb the yolk into its stomach. The yolk provides all the nutrition and hydration the chick needs for the first 3 days of life. This allows us to ship them the day they hatch out. We ship them via Express Mail which ensures delivery in 1-2 days. They are shipped in a small box with holes in it for breathing. The box is small so that the chicks can huddle together and stay warm. You can’t humanely ship fewer than 25 chicks at a time because you need that many bodies to generate enough body heat for them to survive their journey. They like it 90-95 the first week of life. Normally they are huddled under their mother’s feathers for warmth.
Do you grow any produce? If so, do you have any CSA programs?
We grow a little bit of produce. Mainly just to have something on the table at the farmers market since the bulk of our products, meat and eggs, are in coolers behind the table. The garden also feeds us and the crew at the farm. We participate in the Columbia Heights Farmers Market CSA. It is a CSA for vegetables, meat and eggs. We contribute the meat and eggs portion. It is run by Community Foodworks who manage the Columbia Heights Farmers Market. You can sign up through them. Pick up is on Wednesday.
Do you find it difficult to take your animals to slaughter? I am a true carnivore, but I also am a huge animal lover -- sometimes it is really difficult for me to see an animal knowing that it will be killed for us to eat. Since I love eating meat, it gives me comfort to see the animals in such an amazing habitat with lots of space to roam and play. I'm mostly wondering if it's just me that deals with this internal struggle.
You know, taking animals to slaughter is not the hardest part. When you have hundreds of animals born and raised for harvest, you don’t have as much time to develop a relationship with individuals. They are harvested within 6 months. Our favorites tend to come from the breeders. Breeders are around for 10 or more years. So, many of them have names and you get to know their personalities. Sometimes you help them with birthing and you do develop relationships with them. When a breeder gets sick or dies, your heart really goes out. These are animals who have given so much to feed us. Plus, you as the farmer, are ultimately responsible for their well being. So, if someone gets sick or dies, you feel personally responsible. As far as feeling bad about eating animals, you know the best thing anyone can hope for is a really great life with one bad day. That’s what we strive for here for our animals and I hope that is my fate as well.
Ed. note: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
What is the name of your slaughterhouse in PA?
Stoney Point Farm Market in Littlestown, PA. They are a small, family owned abattoir just 20 minutes from our farm. So it is a very low stress trip for them. They have very high animal handling standards which is important not only for animal welfare reasons but animals stressed prior to slaughter will yield tougher meat. We are very lucky to have them. They do an excellent job!
Where can we find your products outside of the farm? (Farmer's Markets, restaurants, etc?)
You can find our products at Range and Pinea in DC, Parts & Labor and Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, and Volt in Frederick. You can purchase our products at the farm or at any of the following farmers markets: Columbia Heights (Weds, 4-7:30), Columbia Heights (Sat, 9-1:00), Chevy Chase Library (Sat, 9-1:00) or Sykesville (Sun, 9-2:00).
What is your favorite thing to eat using the products from your farm?
You know my favorite changes every couple of months, LOL. Right now my favorite product are our pork cutlets. They are sliced thin so you don’t need to pound them out. You simply flour, egg and bread crumb them, fry them up, make a simply lemon, caper pan sauce, place the cutlet on top of salad greens dressed with with a simple lemon vinaigrette, then spoon the pan sauce on top of the cutlet. It’s a quick, easy, healthy summer one dish meal.
Ed. note: Stay tuned for my version of this recipe :)
When you get hangry, what one food item or dish is your go to?
Harriet, a white sheep with red/brown markings. She speaks to me.
Harriet saying hello to crew leader, Joe.
Anything else you want the Hangry District world to know?
"How you spend your money shapes the world around you. Ask your grocer where those apples come from."
William Morrow is owner of Whitmore Farm and President of Future Harvest CASA's board of directors. His passion for humane, sustainable farming, and overall excitement for life is contagious. He is a huge inspiration to me, and I feel so lucky to have him as a mentor, a colleague and a friend. Will welcomes everyone with a beaming smile and a warm hug, so do yourself a favor and go visit him at his farm or at the Chevy Chase farmer's market on Saturdays! Thanks, Will!