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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Animals Roam Free Close to Home

Jun 30, 2020 09:45AM ● By Gisele Rinaldi Siebold

Humanely Raised Meat from Local Small Farms with Big Heart

Fifth-generation owner of Ironstone Spring Farm, Liz Martin, has a deep appreciation for the family-owned farm where she grew up working alongside her parents who had a passion for the land as well as raising humanely-cared-for animals. “There is rich heritage in Lancaster County with a real appreciation for the hard work and integrity that goes into family farms,” says Liz.

“They benefit their community not only by providing a great, local food source but by also supporting other locally-owned business such as veterinarians, contractors, hardware stores, etc.,” she shares. “At our farm, we support other family-owned, local businesses rather than giant corporate companies.”

Bent Limb Farm owner Pam Ellenberger agrees, “Local support of smaller, family-owned farms develops relationships that connect the community. Making a living is part of farming but creating a livelihood is essential to the well-being of the farm and the farmers. Receiving support (financial and emotional) from neighbors and customers enhances the livelihood aspect of the farm family’s life. We value knowing how the animals are raised and what they ate. It is very gratifying and affirming when a customer loves their food and appreciates the care taken to raise that food.”

Dot Martin, owner of Eat Wild Farms, states, “My husband, Ralph, and I have a long, family history of farming beef, poultry and dairy. Our interest in organic, pasture-raised, grass-finished animals began when we wanted quality meat and eggs to feed our own family. We purchased a small farm where we raise heritage-breed animals for beef, poultry and lamb, similar to the way animals were raised in great-grandma’s day—before chemicals and factory farms, when animals grazed on green pastures, basked in the sunshine and roamed the great outdoors—the way nature intended.”

Lemon Street Market owner Trish Haverstick has researched and vetted where the meat comes from that is sold at her store. “Our pork and beef come from Lil’ Ponderosa Ranch, in the Carlisle area. Most of our chicken, and some pork and beef, come from Country Meadows, in southern Lancaster County, and Lancaster Farm Fresh. We sell regional (about a day’s drive) and national brand meats, but they are either from farms with the same standards (The Piggery, in Ithaca, NY) or certified organic and humane (Applegate Farms),” she acknowledges. “All of our local meat comes from freely-roaming animals that don’t need a lot of human intervention. 

“The beef comes from grass-fed, grass-finished cattle that graze on fields of chemical-free, non-genetically (non-GMO) modified grasses,” describes Trish. “Chickens and pork from heritage breeds are pastured almost exclusively. However, pigs and chickens do not thrive on only grass, bugs, etc., so they are given supplemental food; for pigs, it can be food leftovers or non-GMO grain; chickens feed on a non-GMO mixture of grains and legumes.” 

Smaller farms benefit people and animals. “Animals raised outdoors with sunshine, fresh air and free range of pastures,” explains Liz, “are together in their natural social order rather than isolated and confined in feed lots. They’re not subjected to pesticides, antibiotics or hormones. Cows’ bodies are meant to eat grasses, not be fed grain.” 

“Humanely-raised animals are less-stressed and produce better-quality beef,” she says. “Grass-fed beef is leaner, higher in omega-3 fatty acids, has CoQ10, an enzyme for proper heart function and betacarotene, an antioxidant that supports immune function.”

“Grass-fed beef is a great source of minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamin B12 and conjugated linoleic acid,” Trish explains. “Grass-fed beef and pastured pork and chicken have been proven to be more nutrient-rich than their conventional counterparts. Their nutrient profiles are so different, it’s like they’re different foods altogether.”


“By the animals living their best life possible—chickens protected from predators and allowed to supplement their feed with bugs, worms and grass, for example—the land benefits from the manure and animal impact of a rotationally grazed farm,” Pam says. “Pastures regrow lusher and more diverse. Lush pastures decrease water runoff and erosion, resulting in cleaner streams and rivers. Moving the animals spreads out their manure and urine for the plants and soil life to use rather than polluting water supplies.”


Bent Limb Farm, 592 Stone Hill Rd., Shoemakersville; 484-797-2263;

Eat Wild Farms, 2250 Mount Gretna Rd., Elizabethtown; 717-368-5308;

Ironstone Spring Farm, 2856 Charlestown Rd., Lancaster; 717-575-0110;

Lemon Street Market, 241 W. Lemon St., Lancaster; 717-826-0843;