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Northstar Neighbors Turns Over a New Leaf

In the future, Bold Nebraska will profile and promote Nebraska farmers and ranchers who not only produce local foods, but also actively engage in efforts to improve their communities.  This update from Jim Knopik at Northstar Neighbors is the first of such efforts to focus on local foods as a key to strong small towns, a healthy environment, and robust rural economies.

Jim Knopik is a farmer from Nance County.  An outspoken advocate of animal welfare and the environment, Jim and his family, through the cooperative Northstar Neighbors, raise and direct-market sustainably-produced foods right here in Nebraska.  Contact jim at northstar@hamilton.net.

To hear a recent interview with Jim Knopik on KZUM which explains the reason for the following update, download the podcast at this link: http://www.kzum.org/index.php/programming/podcasts/item/22

–BG

Jim Knopik on his land in Nance County, Nebraska

Jim Knopik on his land in Nance County, Nebraska

 

Hello Neighbors!

Good news! We have had our North Star Neighbors’ meeting. The objective of this meeting was made to have discussion only, go home and think about what and where we wanted to go from here. You have all certainly helped us with your comments these past few weeks in North Star Neighbors decision toward their future of direct marketing our products. It was very a somber time while I watched as our farmer members and their spouses read through 50-60 emails from you. The North Star Kids came and were very concerned as to what we would do next.

I laid out the obstacles we face and several options for them to consider with the complete dispersal of North Star as one of them. The North Star Kids probably asked the most serious questions during our meeting. They were not ready to quit. What do we do they asked? Where will we go to get our turkeys processed? These questions were very important. In a time when it is difficult to ask the next generation to follow in our footsteps, they step up and say they want to continue. At that point I believe the discussion became easier through the evening.

A few days later, I started visiting with everyone individually as to what each one of them thought we should do. The great news was that everyone that raised animals and poultry for our coop still wanted to do it. Whether they were 12 or 70, it was very important to them to continue as long as they can. True farmers.

It is clear that we need some changes. We will begin transitioning from offering many different cuts of meat to a pre ordering or contracting type of sales. This will likely take several months for our beef and pork animals but will happen immediately with chickens and turkeys. Planning ahead on your part will help us know how many chickens and livestock we need to raise.

Our goal will be to get you to let us know in advance what your needs will be. Chickens and turkeys will likely be sold as whole. Pork and lambs will be offered in halves and whole while beef will be sold in eighths, quarters, halves and wholes with you determining the cutting and packaging. Eggs will be sold at a local store in Fullerton, off the farm and through the Nebraska Food Cooperative which delivers in many neighborhoods possibly already near you.

As many of you already know, our animals are raised seasonally because grass is important in the diet of all of our animals. This is why you need to plan ahead so we can plan ahead. We ran out of chickens this year 5 months before we will have them ready again. Pre ordering by you will have a supply in your freezer for your year round needs. We will run out of grass fed beef too before we will have more finished next summer. Enough said on that.

** I will try to lay out a schedule in the next week or so on chickens and turkeys so you will know what your options are for the year. The first batch of chickens could be ready by mid June so pre ordering will need to be done for them by March 1st. Several batches of chickens can be raised before fall.

** Broiler chicks will need to be ordered by March 1st for the first batch.

** Turkey chicks will need to be ordered by mid April.

I am also working with someone to continue our home delivery services for your convenience.

Enough can not be said for all of our dedicated neighbors like many of you, who have taken the extra steps needed to partner with us in your food needs. You are more to us than just “customers”, a word that is not fitting. Many special thanks to each of you for the extra things you have done for us.

Later,

Jim

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