Farmstand News / Q&A with Dean Carlson

We’re excited to announce that we’ll soon be welcoming La Divisa Meats and Wyebook Farm to our newly renovated space in the Reading Terminal Market!

By co-locating with La Divisa and Wyebrook—two producers who share Fair Food’s passion for sustainable agriculture and grass-fed and pasture-raised meats—we believe we can provide our Farmstand customers with a truly robust shopping experience and give a boost to both co-locating businesses at the same time. Anuj Gupta, RTM’s General Manager, is equally excited about the move, noting that “[Fair Food and La Divisa Meats] have a number of commonalities, including their remarkable focus on sustainable farming and livestock practices. We believe they will be able to leverage one anothers’ strengths and build stronger futures for their respective businesses as well as the Market.”

La Divisa and Wyebrook hope to move in for the holidays, but in the meantime, let’s get to know one of our soon-to-be stallmates! Read on for a Q&A with Dean Carlson, owner of Wyebrook Farm.

Fair Food: How did your partnership with La Divida Meats come to be?

Dean Carlson: I really wanted to refocus our attention onto the butcher shop side of Wyebrook and to improve our offerings of value added products including sausages, charcuterie, and pâté. I have also always been interested in having an outlet to sell Wyebrook Farm products in Philadelphia. La Divisa and Nick [Macri] were the perfect fit for both of these issues. Nick is well known for his artisanal butcher shop and Reading Terminal Market is an easily accessible place for us to offer our products.

FF: How long have you been farming livestock, and what drew you to this line of work?

DC: I purchased Wyebrook in 2010 and we opened the retail side of the business in 2012. I became interested in sustainable agriculture after reading Michael Pollen’s book The Omnivores Dilemma. The book has had an impact on many people, but for me it made me want to start farming.

FF: What kinds of animals do you raise at Wyebrook Farm?

DC: We raise 100% grass-fed beef, heritage breed pigs raised in the woods, pastured poultry for both meat and eggs, some lamb and goats, and this year we started growing many of the vegetables we use in our restaurant.

FF: What does sustainable agriculture mean to you?

DC: To me, sustainable agriculture means producing food in a way that can be repeated infinitely on a given piece of land without relying on inputs from off the farm. Most notably, this means minimizing the amount of fossil fuels required to produce our food. Michael Pollen has said that we use 10 calories of fuel for every calorie of food we produce. This is clearly unsustainable. We are trying to do it better!

FF: How are your farming practices different than those of other, larger-scale farms?

DC: The easiest example is with grass-fed beef and lamb. The inputs in our system are land, sunshine, and water. Pasture grasses and legumes are perennials. They do not have to be tilled and planted again each year. The animals do the harvesting themselves while simultaneously fertilizing the soil as well.

FF: Does grass-fed / heritage breed / sustainably raised meat taste better than conventionally raised meat? If so, why?

DC: Everyone has different tastes, but I certainly think so. I think the biggest reason is that the animals are raised in their natural environments instead of in confinement. One example of this is with our pigs. The heritage breeds are certainly not bred to be the lean, mushy product you find with “the other white meat.” Our pigs are running around outside and that translates to a completely different texture and taste in the meat.

FF: What Wyebrook meats/products can we expect to see at La Divisa’s new spot in the Reading Terminal Market?

DC: To start, we will offer our grass-fed beef and a limited amount of pork. We will continue to offer local, sustainably raised lamb, goat, and pork from our friends at Jamison Farm, Stryker Farm, and Country Time Farm.