Farm Trails member since 2014 | Victorian Christmas Tree Farm – Farm Trails charter members in 1973 | Community Market Butcher Shop at The Barlow, 6762 Sebastopol Ave. #100, Sebastopol | vicfarmmeats.com
For Adam Parks, owner of Victorian Farmstead Meat Company, Farm Trails is in his blood—quite literally! His grandparents were charter members of Farm Trails in 1973, and Adam appeared on the cover of the 1977 Farm Trails Map & Guide. Still, Adam did not plan on following in his ancestors’ footsteps until a financial disaster forced him to relocate to the family farm. From there, Adam created a successful butcher shop committed to offering the highest-quality sustainably raised local meats to the community. In this Member Spotlight, we talk to Adam about his unexpected path back to the Farm Trails.
How did you start your business?
My wife, Laura, and I moved back to the family farm in 2009 after losing most of what we had in the 2008 housing crisis. The first order of business was feeding everyone, and so I bought a couple feeder hogs and 25 meat chickens. In doing this, it occurred to me that there must be a better way to get all the incredible meat being raised by folks I grew up with in Sonoma and Marin Counties to the consumer. So we decided to start taking fresh meat to the local farmers’ markets. The rest is history!
What is the history of your business?
I was raised on an 850-acre sheep ranch in Tomales, and the farm that Laura and I now own in Sebastopol was my grandparents’ Christmas tree farm. I was actually on the cover of one of the very early Farm Trails maps as a 5 or 6 year old!
What do you do?
We actually don’t raise any of the meat ourselves anymore. We have a network of 8 to 10 local ranches that raise animals specifically for us and to our standards. Over the years, we have expanded to include a wide variety of locally harvested seafood, locally raised duck, and pretty much any protein our customers could want!
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
This one is easy! Interacting with our customers, particularly when they are trying to convert from eating CAFO [concentrated animal feed operation] or conventionally raised meat to sustainable, well-raised meat.
What do you value about being a member of Farm Trails?
I really appreciate all the work that Farm Trails puts into projects just like this one. There is a lot of work that goes into running a small business, and marketing is often the item on the “to do” list that keeps getting pushed off until tomorrow. Any time a small business or farm can get help in that area is a huge bonus!
What are your hopes for the future of your business and/or Sonoma County ag?
I hope that more folks will see what is being grown here locally and break the habit of buying their meat and produce at the mega-marts that make it so convenient to buy inferior and cheaply raised products. The more that great organizations like Farm Trails can help get the message out to those that just don’t know about what we produce here in Sonoma County, the more folks will make the switch!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your line of business?
Get a great business manager/bookkeeper! There are a lot of people that have great ideas and grow amazing products but struggle or fail because they don’t have the business savvy or knowledge. Every struggle we have had over the past 13 years is because we tried to do it all ourselves. Ask for help!
Photos by Lisa Rose