Metro-East News

$3.50 for eggs? These Clinton County farmers explain the demand for their meat and poultry

If you want to enjoy farm-to-table food at home, there’s a new option in the metro-east where you can find freezer staples like hamburger, steak and chicken.

Located at 8801 Main St., Main Street Pastures in St. Rose could soon become a destination for more local consumers who want to take the mystery out of their meat and eggs.

“It’s comforting knowing where your food comes from,” Jill Vonder Haar said, sitting outside of their Clinton County home. "There's a taste difference."

The Vonder Haar family sells “pasture-raised" meat. That means their cattle, pigs and chickens graze on the food they grow on the farm. The alternative could be giving them feed from somewhere else and housing the animals in cages with concrete floors.

Even though that's a common way of raising livestock, they don't do that at Main Street Pastures. Instead, their animals graze and roam on the pasture — a practice that's not popular anymore, Chad Vonder Haar said.

It’s a labor-intensive job, but one that's worth his time because their customers can taste the difference in their meat.

"We're trying to make the right choice at every turn," Chad Vonder Haar said on a hot Tuesday morning at the farm.

Farm-to-table isn’t just a trend or a catch phrase for the Vonder Haar family.

It’s a way of life.

That’s why they want more families in the metro-east to try the meat and eggs from their 100-acre farm.

Their freezer is stocked with chicken, beef and pork. Bacon flies off the shelf.

The family sells the meat in bundles to promote their products. This month’s special includes five pounds of ground beef and five slices of hickory smoked ham (one pound each) for $30.

In their refrigerator, you’ll find eggs — one of their most popular items.

At $3.50 a dozen, the free-range eggs are more expensive than what you’ll find in the grocery store. But the Vonder Haar family believes there’s value in knowing how an animal is raised before it lands on your plate.

“We raise everything on the pasture throughout most of the year,” the Vonder Haar family's biography explains. “We love watching the cattle graze on green pastures and chickens scratching for bugs and seeds. We don’t use any hormones, feed non-GMO corn, and only use antibiotics when necessary.”

They’re becoming well known around St. Rose and Breese for the eggs and meat they sell at the local farmers market. They sell the products every week as a family.

The Vonder Haar children, Ashlyn, Caitlyn, Lauryn, and Evan, help out around the farm and tend their livestock. They are the fifth generation of farmers in the family on their father’s side.

“We knew we wanted to do this for our kids, you know,” Jill Vonder Haar said. “We wanted them to experience the animals and have responsibility.”

About 250 animals live on their farm. Half are chickens; the others are cows, goats and pigs. Their customers are welcome to check out the farm, and soon the community could be invited to learn more about their passion if things continue to grow at a steady rate.

“Our goal is to have an open house, open farm day,” Jill Vonder Haar said. “I think it’s neat for people to come and see where their food comes from.”

In addition to the open house, the family wants to sell mums on the farm this fall. Working with local restaurants and markets could also be in their future, but for now the family wants to expand their business slowly.

Want to try the meat from Main Street Pastures? Call 618-210-6059 before you stop by the farm or visit Breese Farmer’s Market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays until Sept. 8 at 500 N. First St. in Breese.

Main Street Pasture products are also available in St. Rose at Wessel's Corner Market, 17909 St. Rose Rd. The store is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.