How local is Reserve Run Family Farm?
Pretty local… like “Oxford, Ohio” local.
The farm, owned and maintained by Miami alum Drew Johnson, is a local provider of beef for Miami University and was present at Miami University’s Local Vendor Day a couple weeks ago. While there, students had the opportunity to sample the fresh, local beef that Reserve Run Family Farm supplies to Miami University. However, odds are, you’ve tried their product before.
Featured at Maplestreet Station’s Encounter and sold out of Market Street at MacCracken, Reserve Run Farm beef is easily accessible to students looking for a high-quality and all-natural product. It is a traditional farm with tried and true ways of doing things. All the cattle (and chickens they sell) are free-range and are hormone and antibiotic-free. They take great pride in their work and work very hard to ensure that the quality of their beef is consistently top-notch. This results in some of the best beef around.
“The meat is just second to none cause of how we feed and raise them,” says Johnson’s father-in-law, Dan Cartell, who represented the farm at Local Vendor Day. “Nobody raises beef like we do.”
Reserve Run Farm has been supplying customers with their high-quality product for over 60 years now and has been a presence on-campus for a couple years now as well. As for Cartell, he knew Johnson was onto something the first time he tried a Reserve Run Farm steak.
“Drew gave me a steak, wrapped in the white paper,” says Cartell while putting more beef on his small portable grill. “I thawed it as I drove back up to Cleveland. I cooked it up without seasoning or anything and it was so good. I called him up right after and asked him what he did to it. He was selling it shortly after.”
The free samples Cartell was giving out at Local Vendor Day also had students asking the same question. The natural, unseasoned flavor of the beef is remarkable. In order to accomplish that sort of high-quality, natural flavor, Reserve Run Farm has one primary focus in raising their cattle that differentiates them from others.
As with most great things, it all starts with food.
While the debate rages over grass-fed over grain-fed beef, Reserve Run Farm feed their cattle a balanced diet of unlimited high-quality hay, corn silage and a little ground corn. This is referred to as a “high forage diet” as it is mainly plant material (plant leaves and stems). At least 90% of the diet is made up of green matter.
While there is a much more thorough explanation of the diet in it’s entirety on the Reserve Run Farm website, here’s how they describe corn silage;
Corn silage is a forage food. It is the entire corn plant chopped into small pieces when it is still green. Once we chop the corn, we blow it into the silos where it uses gravity to pack itself tightly. Because we put it in the silo a little wet, it combines with natural yeasts already on the plant and ferments in the silo to naturally preserve itself. The product is a high quality feed which is highly palatable and digestible for the cattle. Corn silage has largely been phased out in American agriculture because of it’s labor intensive nature. We spend a good deal of time filling and maintaining our silos. We also spend a good deal of time feeding them silage via a wheelbarrow.
Cartell calls corn silage “cow’s beer”, saying the cattle would eat it all day if they had the opportunity. A part of the diet that is unlimited though, is the hay, which is also a forage, served out of feeders that cattle can eat from at any time of the day. The hay is grown from a variety of different seeds that can be adjusted based on dietary needs, time of year and other factors. Finally, the grain is the icing on the cake, actually served on top of the corn silage. Everything Reserve Run Farm feeds their cattle is grown and produced right there on their Oxford farm. It’s a little more work, but ultimately benefits the final customer in the way of quality and taste.
Between the way their cattle is cared for and the way they are fed, Reserve Run Family Farm produces a high-quality product that can be found on campus at MacCracken Market, stored in freezer bags that maintain the freshness of the beef, and at Encounter in the form of an Encounter burger (or double Encounter burger), which you can top with your favorite toppings. Reserve Run Family Farm has a website and are on Facebook if you’d like more information. Otherwise, be sure to check out their products at our campus locations!
“We’re very proud to sell to Miami,” says Cartell. “They have a very thorough process for getting involved, so we really appreciate having the opportunity.”
And Miami University appreciates having the opportunity to serve the locally raised beef from Reserve Run Family Farm.