Featured producer: How Creekside Meadows Farm connected with Clear Path for Veterans

Creekside Meadows Farm’s pork loin has been seen by more than one million television viewers across the globe, but they probably didn’t know its Central New York origin.

The farm is located in the town of Cazenovia at 2242 Reservoir Road, New Woodstock. Creekside Meadows is a 150-acre diversified grass-based family farm featuring 100 percent grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised pork and poultry. The farm – and its owners Tricia, Matt and Cameron Park – has a history with Clear Path for Veterans dating back to its founding.

Through a mutual friend’s suggestion, Dogs2Vets Program Director Kate Hannon brought Veteran-canine teams from the program to Tricia at the farm to add to their training. Tricia’s dog, Teddy, also participated in the program. About two-and-a-half years ago, Hannon shared with Tricia that Clear Path had hired a new chef, then Culinary Director Adam Coleman. In November 2016, Coleman was a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped “Turkey Day Heroes” episode. During the opening credits, which featured footage filmed during a meal service at Clear Path, Creekside Meadows’ pork loin was the main entrée, but not everyone watching would know that.

But this only skims Tricia’s and Clear Path’s story.

Tricia served with the U.S. Air Force; she was stationed for two tours at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as an AGE Mechanic, and then served at the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse for four years as a staff sergeant. She retired from the military approximately 20 years ago.

Following that service, and like many Veterans, Tricia still had the desire to give back. Clear Path’s Executive Chef Christopher Griffin advocates strongly for the locavores movement, which aims to connect food producers and food consumers in the same geographic region. The benefits to this is that it develops more self-reliant and resilient food networks, it improves local economies – especially, in Clear Path’s case, for Veteran-owned farms, and it has a positive impact on health, the environment and the community.

“I was looking for a way to give back to the community so I signed up as a volunteer in his kitchen when my farm schedule allowed,” Tricia said. “Shortly after, we started supplying some meats and vegetables at times to the Wednesday Canteens and other special events. … It’s been a great relationship that feeds my soul giving back to fellow Veterans in the form of good food that we raised on the farm, but also getting to be part of the final preparations as it goes on their plate has been something rarely found elsewhere. It’s something I truly cherish.”

Griffin said working with meat from Creekside Meadows automatically elevates your game, “when you have food like that it is inspiring. … We love working with Creekside Meadows. Her products are naturally raised. I was just there today and there are a lot of happy animals out there. When you start with a really high-quality ingredient it raises the bar. You look at it differently, so you already start treating it differently. She provides a really good environment for her animals and it is evident in the product that she turns out.”

Creekside Meadows’ supply of meat to Clear Path comes from its own herd, a cross of Hereford and Belted Galloway beef “that compliments and excels on our grass pastures and all-grass diet,” Tricia said. They also raise heritage breeds of pork – Tamworth, Large Black and Berkshire – that are born and raised entirely outdoors on pasture and woodlands, and produce chemical-free, sustainably-raised vegetables and farmstead soaps made with farm-raised ingredients.

“We take great pride in producing healthy, safe and nutritious food for our family and our local customers while being exceptional stewards of our land,” Tricia said. “We are a Homegrown by Heroes farm and members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (www.farmvetco.org). We have chosen not to certify our farm with any other groups or labels, instead forming lasting relationships built on honesty and transparency with our local customers.”

You can find Creekside Meadows product every Saturday at the Cazenovia Farmers Market; Creekside Meadows participates year-round. They offer meats, vegetables, maple syrup and soaps, and Veterans receive a 5 percent discount. They also offer a self-serve farmstand during the summer months at their farm, a winter farmstore, and their meats can be found at 20/East – a store in Cazenovia that features products from the Cazenovia Farmers Market farmers, artisans and vendors. Local delivery begins in December to local areas with no delivery fee, delivering to a home or business through an online ordering process.