Point La Nim, New Brunswick is not only home to our small diversifying family run hobby farm but another local family run business, Hengst Quality Sausage. In the name of collaboration, we teamed up with the Hengsts this end of summer to produce our first turkey sausages from MacCurdy Farm turkeys. I know, just like Pavlov’s dog, I’m drooling at the thought of it too.
This summer, while the turkeys grazed on pasture in our fleet of pastured poultry pens (aka. chicken tractors), an idea came to mind. Small scale farming always has room to consider value adding. Those of you caught by the addictive game, Hay Day, on your smartphones, will quickly understand the concept of adding value to a farm product. For example, pumpkins retail for $3 – $5 (depending on the size) but they can be value-added in the form of jams, pies, cakes, and painted Jack-o’-lanterns. Value adding allows us, in the case of pumpkins, beans, and strawberries, to find a return on our perishable products that might not sell at our local Farmer’s Market on any given Saturday. Turkeys, on the other hand, require some more expertise. Namely, quality production from our neighbour’s up the road.
Market days at Restigouche Farmer’s Market have their ups and downs for all vendors. On those days when the crowds are waning, I usually saunter over to the Hengst Sausage booth to toss ideas around with Mark and have a tasty mild italian sausage (my favorite) off their grill. Our conversations cover a lot of topic areas, mostly related to food, but on one occasion we discussed some possibilities for our larger retail turkeys that might not sell. The turkey sausage idea was born. Through many conversations with Mark and Jane, I’ve realized that they are just as passionate about locavorism and small sustainable family run businesses as I am. Like us, they endorse buying seasonal local farm products and, like us, they understand that supporting small farms like ours boosts our local economy and funnels money back into the hands of farmers to help nourish the people of our region. So, I jumped at the idea to try something new. I love novelty.
As I came to find out from Mark, and his wife Jane, turkey sausages are quite common. We talked at length about producing the best product we could with the turkey meat and settled upon mild Italian turkey sausages. A bit of spice is nice. To share in the experience of sausage making, I carved all of the meat off of the thawed turkey frame and boiled the flesh off of the bones (You can use up to 10% cooked meat in a sausage). The meat, fresh and cooked, was bagged in freezer bags. We bottled the remaining turkey broth as stock and have decided to sell it at the market for all of you scratch soupers out there. I am a strong believe in using everything from a turkey and a chicken. It’s healthy and you pay the animal respect by eating all of it. A quick trip to deliver the frozen meat to the Hengsts and then the magic could happen, sausage making magic that is.
One of the most endearing qualities about Mark and Jane with their sausage business is their openness and willingness to talk about everything related to their operation. In my opinion, it is a reflection of the knowledge they have required over their 20 + years in business and that passion that so often accompanies the entrepreneurial spirit. They love to do what they do and they aren’t ashamed to share it. They are exactly the type of people that we would want to collaborate with on a project handling the meats of our labor. Their openness has allowed many people who grow and raise their own food in this region to create variety in their culinary selection. Hamburgers, sausages, and steaks are all equally at home on the bbq grill.
Hengst Quality Sausage is a family owned business. They use recipes that are over 60 years old with only the best ingredients available. As Mark says, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.” Isn’t that the truth. Mark and Jane’s respect for the older traditions of sausage making are very apparent. You can see it in their diligence and attention to detail in making and cooking their sausages. Mark and Jane have been stuffing sausage goodness for over 20 years. Now, thanks to their automatic stuffer, they can produce sausages at an accelerated rate getting them to grocery store shelves and home freezers at a much quicker rate. They also have a variety of other food products available from beef jerky to smoked meat.
Mark’s passion stems from his roots in sausage making. His father was a butcher and a sausage maker who worked as a chef in many of the finest hotels across the country of Canada. Today, Mark continues to refine his craft as a next generation sausage maker. Their business continues to evolve in a shrinking market via many pathways including word of mouth and social networking sites like Facebook, which can be found by searching their business name. Their business finds success through the support of family and a collective effort to make quality the word that stands out in their business. You can find their sausages and other products at the Restigouche Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 8 – 1 pm just across the way from our market booth. Just follow your nose, it’ll take you to sausage heaven. Trust me, I’ve tried every sausage they make, including our MacCurdy Farm turkey sausage, and all of them carry that taste that makes you want to go back for more.
I think it would be safe to say that both of our families could be considered Bay of Chaleur locavores who seek to provide tasty and healthy food products for the omnivorous diet in our region. That is what excited me most about collaborating on this project with the Hengsts. Tradition and innovation both play an important role in how our businesses evolve in our region. There must always be a respect for those generations who broke ground ahead of us and a spark within us that seeks to make refinements and improvements while we are at the helm in hopes that something exists for the next generation of farmers and sausage makers.
MacCurdy Farm turkey sausages are available at the Restigoucher Farmer’s market. Make a note of stopping to have a chat at one of our booths the next time you visit. Conversation creates relationships as well as opportunities. It did for us at MacCurdy Farm when we chatted with the Hengsts.
We will soon have a drop down menu on our MacCurdy Farm website entitled, Friends of the Farm, that will share more details concerning Hengst Quality Sausage products as well as other local businesses who use our products in their food creations. Look for this added site feature in the very near future.