New York-based Handsome Brook Farm, one of America’s leading Certified Organic farms specializing in pasture raised eggs, recently donated 23,500 dozen eggs (totaling over 270,000 individual eggs) to the food & rescue organization City Harvest – part of Handsome Brook Farm’s larger effort to give back and ensure that the hungry not only have access to food, but the right kind of food. Handsome Brook Farm’s 23,500 dozen eggs will be distributed throughout City Harvest’s network of 500 soup kitchens, food pantries and other community food programs across the five boroughs of New York.
City Harvest pioneered food rescue in 1982, and has since taken a long-term approach to hunger relief through its ‘Healthy Neighborhoods’ initiative. In communities with elevated rates of food insecurity, poverty and diet-related illnesses, City Harvest has developed programs and partnerships to increase availability of affordable, fresh product and inspire healthy, budget-conscious meal choices through nutrition education. In 2016, City Harvest hopes to collect 55 million pounds of excess food to help feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers struggling to put meals on their tables.
Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Eggs is a privately held company run by Bryan and Betsy Babcock. To date, it has established partnerships with over 75 family farms throughout the East Coast and Southern regions of the United States, and is recognized as one of the fastest-growing, privately-held egg companies in the USA, and as the 14th fastest growing food company in America; the farm was listed as #391 on the 2015 Inc. 500 List.
Pasture raised eggs are the one of the fastest growing segments in the dairy case, and are distinguished from other eggs in that the hens actually spend their day’s outdoors. Handsome Brook Farm’s mission is to provide customers throughout the United States with eggs that reflect the highest standards of quality, fair trade practices, and commitment to animal welfare.
Recently, Betsy Babcock, CEO and co-Founder of Handsome Brook Farm, spoke to the Examiner about the City Harvest donation, the Farm’s commitment to both animal welfare and giving back to the community, and her goals for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when were you inspired to start your company, and how did you decide on the name ‘Handsome Brook Farm’?
Betsy Babcock (B.B.): I am a country girl at heart. My grandparents had a farm in Springfield, Illinois and I would spend each summer there. It was the highlight of my year. My dream was always to have my own small farm, and when Bryan and I had the opportunity, we bought a small farm in Franklin, New York – located on East Handsome Brook, which runs directly behind our house – thus the name Handsome Brook Farm. And the Brook is truly handsome! We started a Farmstay Bed and Breakfast in 2007. Our pasture raised egg company’s origins are really the result of comments about our eggs from our Handsome Brook Farm Bed and Breakfast guests, who raved about how delicious our eggs are. We soon realized that the uniqueness of our eggs was because our hens, unlike cage free, free range, or even organic eggs, spend time outdoors on acres of pasture. It makes a difference in terms of both quality and animal welfare.
M.M.: How many animals are on your farm right now?
B.B.: We started with six chickens, two pigs, eleven sheep, and two barn cats on our farm. We now have nearly 80 small farms in our Handsome Brook Farm group, with nearly 400,000 hens – in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New York.
M.M.: When and how did you get involved with NYC Harvest?
B.B.: We have always heard about the wonderful work that City Harvest does, and had wanted to find an opportunity to give back and help fight hunger. We have a real issue with hunger for the working poor right in rural communities throughout the United States, so this is an issue that hits close to home. We had an opportunity to donate a large quantity (23,500 dozen) eggs – and City Harvest was the first place we thought of, as we knew they could get them to people who needed them.
M.M.: Thus far, what has been the most rewarding part of working on the farm?
B.B.: Personally, I love being outdoors with animals and watching things grow – so every day is a new thrill. I love the seasonality and rhythm of farming. But the most rewarding part is the fact that, through Handsome Brook Farm, we have been able to help small farms. Our partner farms throughout the United States continue to stay in farming and make a full time living – all while raising pasture raised hens in a humane and sustainable manner, and our consumers from coast to coast respond to our eggs in such a supportive way.
M.M.: Where do you hope the farm will be ten years from now?
B.B.: I hope that we will continue to increase the number of farms that we can include in our group and reach more and more customers with our pasture raised eggs.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
B.B.: One of the keys to our continued growth is vertical integration. Last year we purchased a feed mill in Cortland, New York and are producing our own Certified Organic feed. This has made a tremendous difference in the nutritional care of our hens, their health, and at a better cost to our farms. We are in the process of putting an egg packing facility in Virginia, where we will be able to pack our own eggs, and which will serve has our corporate headquarters. Our live operations team is continuing to grow, to support the needs of the additional farms we are bringing on. Our eggs are currently sold at stores throughout the United States, including Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, Sprouts, Wegman’s and Whole Foods (NE only for Whole Foods). We look forward to continuing to grow and serve. As we do, we will continue to look for opportunities to fight hunger through organizations like City Harvest and Feeding America. While we are deeply committed to animal welfare, we are equally so to the human condition.
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To learn more about Handsome Brook Farm visit its official website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To learn more about City Harvest, see here.