Every year, we hold our own version of the Oscars: the Local Hero Awards, wherein readers vote for their favorite local chefs/restaurants, farm/farmers, non-profits, culinary artisans, beverage producers and food or wine retailers, and the winners are awarded with a feature in our March/April print issue. Every weekday till the polling booths close on December 31st* we’ll be looking back at last year’s winners.
Today we’re highlighting Sweet Grass Meats! The below story originally appeared as part of our Local Heroes feature in the 2010 Spring issue.
*There’s still time to make sure your voice is heard! Vote here for your 2019 local hero chefs, farmers, non-profits and artisans.
SWEET GRASS MEATS
Most people in Rochester know Naples for its grapes and grape pies, but Leith and Sasha MacKenzie, of Sweet Grass Meats, are also making it known for its high-quality lamb and other meat products. In 2005, Leith and Sasha moved from North Carolina to a cabin in Naples and purchased sheep with the dream of becoming sheep farmers. The couple realized quickly that in order to have a business, they would need to offer their customers more options. By working with other farmers, Leith and Sasha stocked their farm store, created a buying club and have a regular booth at the South Wedge Farmers’ Market where they sell their beef, pork and lamb.
Sweet Grass Meats has generated appreciation from its neighbors and customers for having leased undesirable farmlands and created a sustainable system there. Using Managed Intensive Rotational Grazing (MIRG), their animals graze on grass and then fertilize the ground where the grass grows. Leith says this system is “simple because it’s what the animals have been evolved to do.” Sasha says that it’s flattering to know people are satisfied with the meat, and that it feels so good after a hard day on the farm to connect to people who are eating their food. “If you make a good quality product, it will sell itself,” Leith says.