FARMSTAND

3565 Ballards Mill Road

Free Union, VA 22940

434-823-4632

OPEN HOURS

Fridays 1-5 (Year-Round)

Saturdays 10-1 (Apr - Nov)

No appt. needed

MORE INFO
GET THE LATEST
(Weekly news + deals when we got 'em )
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle

© 2019 BY FREE UNION GRASS FARM, LLC

Site images by Kristen Finn @ksfinn

FAQ

WHERE CAN I BUY YOUR PRODUCTS?
You can purchase our meat and eggs at our farmstand, at farmer's markets, from gourmet purveyors and small grocers, or find them on the menu at discerning restaurants in Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Peruse the Purchase page for all the details.
CAN I PURCHASE YOUR PRODUCTS ONLINE?
Not at this time, but we are working towards this option for local customers.
 
BUT YOU CAN PRE-ORDER ITEMS FOR PICK UP!
 
Email us BY 9AM FRIDAY MORNING to reserve items for pick up at either of our Saturday farmer's markets, then pay in person with cash, check, or credit card.
 
WE ALSO OFFER WEEKLY, LOCAL HOME DELIVERY!
 
If you live in the Charlottesville area, we offer delivery straight to your doorstep every Wednesday for orders of $100 or more. Click here for our current products and prices, then email us to order.
DO YOU SHIP?
No. To keep our ecological footprint as small as possible, we avoid the expensive packaging, dry ice, and fossil fuel required to get our products to your door and keep them cold in transit. We offer sales to customers as close to home as possible in our central Virginia area - typically that's Charlottesville, Richmond, and thereabouts. To support your local farmers and explore the seasonal offerings in your area, check out www.eatwild.com.
HOW IS YOUR MEAT PACKAGED / PRICED?
Most of our products are sold by the pound. Because every animal is a little different, not all packages weigh the same amount. We've done our best to provide the average weight range, package quantity, and approximate total price of each of our products. Find all that info alongside our list of current offerings here.
WHY CAN'T I GET FRESH POULTRY YEAR-ROUND?
We process all of our own poultry by hand in an outdoor facility. Standing still and rinsing birds constantly is cold, wet work, made significantly less pleasant if it's also cold outside. To keep our farmer fingers from freezing off, we schedule our season so that we are only processing birds April - November.
 
Secondly, because fresh poultry has a shelf life, we can only offer fresh birds on the weeks we process, and we don't process every week. We economize on time by raising a few large batches instead of many small batches, then hire extra help on processing days to do more birds at once. Whatever doesn't sell the week we process is frozen for sale at a later time; we never freeze, thaw, and re-freeze. To stay in-the-know about fresh poultry, sign up for our email list.
WHY IS YOUR BEEF/PORK ALWAYS FROZEN?
In Virginia, we are required to have our cows and pigs processed at a USDA-inspected facility (we use T&E Meats in Harrisonburg). Once they have cut and packaged our meat, everything is put directly into their deep freezer, and by the time we get the call to pick it up, it is typically frozen solid. Additionally, we are not equipped with adequate refrigeration to keep whole hogs and cows cold, but not frozen.  Although we recognize the joy and convenience of a fresh cut, it is not practical for us to provide fresh beef or pork at this time.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?
All of our animals are grass-fed. Our cows are 100% grass-fed and finished, and we supplement the diet of our pigs and poultry with an antibiotic- and hormone-free, non-GMO ration from Sunrise Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Check out their website for more info.
IS THERE SOY IN YOUR FEED?
Yes. Soy is currently the most efficient and economical source of protein available to us. In our experience, alternative sources of feed protein, such as field peas or beans, yield smaller birds with a less consistent meat-to-bone ratio. We have experimented with soy-free feeds in the past and found the birds took 2-3 weeks longer to dress out to our desired slaughter weight. Those extra weeks require more labor, more feed, and more field space. It simply doesn't cost out on our scale.
There is research to both support and refute the notion that soy in animal feed will persist in the meat and affect the human consumer. Because we are not experts on this topic, we trust you to make your own educated purchasing choices if you're concerned about eating our poultry or pork due to a soy allergy.
DO YOU SLAUGHTER YOUR OWN ANIMALS?
Per Virginia law, our cows and pigs are all slaughtered at T&E Meats in Harrisonburg, VA, a USDA-inspected facility that is co-owned by the Salatins of Polyface Farm. We've worked with several small abbatoirs in Virginia and find T&E to have the cleanest, most humane holding facilities and handlers. They also consistently do the best job cutting and packaging.
We do slaughter all of our poultry on the farm. We process batches of 200 ducks or 400 chickens at a time with a small, ninja-fast crew of 6-8 people. Our facility is basic - a covered, outdoor area to the side of our garage shop with a concrete slab and stainless steel tables provides us with a fresh breeze and a view while we work. We use a Poultryman rotary scalder, Featherman rotating kill-cone stand, and Featherman game bird plucker. 
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL THE GUTS?
We compost them. One of our farmer's market customers works for a tree company and we barter truckloads of wood chips for meat. We bury the offal in the coarse wood chips each time we process and periodically turn the piles to keep the compost cooking. Once it has aged, we spread it all back on the fields. Free fertilizer!
DO YOU SELL LAYING HENS?
Yes! We doubled the size of our layer flock this season to provide eggs year-round, so we currently have plenty of extra hens on hand. Email us to pick up live, ready-to-lay hens for your own backyard flock. Pricing varies throughout the year based on the breed and age of the hen. Check our price list for more info.
I WANT TO RAISE DUCKS! WILL YOU PLEASE TELL ME ALL YOUR SLAUGHTER SECRETS?
Sorry to disappoint, but there really aren't any secrets to clean ducks. It's just hard, and it requires stamina. On a given kill day, we slaughter half as many ducks as we do chickens in the same amount of time and with the same size crew. While we've discovered a few helpful hints and invested in some niche equipment, there is no way to get a duck as clean as a chicken right out of the plucker. To account for the added processing labor, we've had success with adjusting our expectations as well as our prices. 
 
We get plenty of requests to come "watch" or "help" on a slaughter day, but inevitably that requires added explanation and demonstration on an already busy day that we just can't accommodate. The best way to learn all the ins and outs of duck slaughter is to work with us for a season. Keep an eye on our Jobs page for crew openings.
WHY IS YOUR FOOD SO EXPENSIVE?
Aside from the simple matter of our very small scale, our prices include the cost of quality feed and significantly higher labor to provide animals with humane living conditions, while managing our pastures sustainably, protecting our waterways, and regenerating soils.  
 
Furthermore, we are presenting within one price point all the costs associated with each product - with no externalities. The cheap food Americans have come to believe is the norm is not actually cheap at all. Rather, there is a significant, quantifiable cost to producing food in a way that depletes natural resources, and an eventual price to be paid to your health from eating cheaply produced, highly processed food low in nutritional value and full of preservatives and synthetic ingredients. There is also a social cost to supporting an industrialized food system that treats animals as "units" rather than raising them in a way that mimics their ideal environment and food sources, and an ethical cost to a system that denies animals humane living conditions. Aside from that, we receive no agricultural subsides whatsoever.
In terms of labor, we invest heavily in the training and retention of our crew, while paying a competitive, living wage and providing ample vacation time. We are not making a killing as farmers (and anyone who thinks we're getting rich because a chicken costs $18 has got to be kidding me) but we do make a comfortable living. We have turned a profit every year and are going into our tenth season of production, so paying that higher price helps businesses like ours survive and thrive.
Lastly, we often find the people who complain the most about the cost of food can comfortably afford a gym or club membership, a hefty car payment, dining out regularly, an expensive cable package or some kind of internet TV streaming service, etc. It's clear to us there are real groups of people who lack access to quality food like ours, and that's an issue we are called to address. But when we see consumers complain about a dozen eggs that's $6 instead of $5 while being content with a $6 mocha thing at Starbucks, we have trouble sympathizing.
 
The point here is that in many cases, it is less a matter of access and more a matter of priorities. If you care about it, you're often willing to spend more on it. Personally, we allocate a larger percentage of our budget to food because we value our personal health, the health of our environment, and the health of our animals. We welcome you to do the same.