July Farmers Market Schedule

Monnett Farms July Farmers Market Schedule

Thank you to everyone who has come out to support us at the Solomons and California Farmers Markets week after week this Spring and Summer. We have an update to our July schedule:

Monnett Farms July Farmers Market Schedule Southern Maryland

New Market – July Only – Prince Frederick Courthouse

To celebrate Buy Local Month, Calvert County is hosting a special farmers market at the courthouse on Main Street in Prince Frederick. Monnett Farms is excited to be participating. We’ll have grass fed beef to sell at this market.

Prince Frederick Courthouse Farmers Market
Wednesdays • 11:30am to 3:30pm • 175 Main Street

Monnett Farms will be there on 7/9, 7/16 and 7/23

Solomons Farmers Market

We are taking a break from the Solomons Market for the month of July only, so we can participate in the Prince Frederick market. We will return to Solomons on August 7th. If you are a Solomons customer and want to place an order for delivery, you can email us at sales@monnettfarms.com to make arrangements.

Solomons Island Farmers Market
Thursdays • 4pm to 8pm • North end of the boardwalk

California Farmers Market

We will continue to be at the California (BAE) Farmers Market through the summer and fall, except for a vacation day on July 26th.

California (BAE) Farmers Market
Saturdays • 9am to 1pm • BAE Systems parking lot

Buying a side of pork from Monnett Farms

* Post updated July 31, 2015
Our buying window for custom pork orders is open through August 30th on a first come, first serve basis. Get more details and download our order form here.

Buying a Side of Pork From Monnett Farms

One of the most economical ways to buy meat is in bulk, direct from the farmer. Not only do you get to know the farmer and how the animal was raised, but you have the advantage of getting the meat butchered the way you want. At Monnett Farms, we sell sides of beef and pork as well as whole lambs and goat.

We often get questions about ordering sides of beef and pork, so we thought we’d take a little time and answer a few commonly asked questions and offer advice for folks looking to buy a whole or half hog.

Buyers Guide For Whole (or Half) Hog

There are are various reasons why people buy a whole hog – in some cases it may be for a pig roast, which requires a smaller pig, typically around 30 to 40lbs. We generally do not have small pigs available, this may be something we look to do in the future. What we mostly market at Monnett Farms are finished hogs that have a live weight between 200 and 300lbs. We sell whole pigs or sides of pork.

How Much Does a Side of Pork Cost?
We charge $4.50 per pound for a whole hog and $4.75 per pound for a side of pork. The price is based on the hanging weight of the pig, which is the weight after the head, feet and organs have been removed, but before it has been butchered into usable cuts. We estimate that the hanging weight of a side of our pork will be between 70 and 90 lbs. That equates to about $400 for a side of pork and between $600 and $800 for a whole hog.

How Much Meat Will I Get From A Side of Pork?
The hanging weight is not the same as the yield weight after the meat is cut up to your specifications. Depending on the cuts you select, you can expect to get 70 to 80% of the hanging weight for your freezer.

What Cuts Should I Get?

Buying pork in bulk can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought your meat this way. You want to think about what cuts of pork you and your family like to eat. In the Spring, you might be thinking about grilling meats, but remember to think ahead to the fall and winter when you might cook more roasts and stews. Our pork is vacuum packed and will keep in the freezer for a year or more.

Cuts of Pork
There are five specific sections to a hog, two of each section if you’re buying a whole hog, or one of each if you’re buying a side:

  • - Loin
  • - Belly
  • - Ham
  • - Shoulders
  • - Ribs

Pork Cut Chart from “The Complete Book of Meat” by Phyllis C. Reynolds published 1963

The loin section runs along the top of the ribs. You can choose to have this as a loin roast, specified as bone in or boneless and desired size of roasts (average is 2 to 3 lbs). Alternately, you can have the loin cut into chops (bone in) or steaks (boneless) and specify a thickness (average is 1″). From a side of pork, you can expect to get about 24 – 28 pork chops.

The belly (a.k.a. bellie or side meat), is where the bacon comes from. This is typically cured and smoked. Our butcher offers two types of curing/smoking: regular brine with hickory smoke OR no nitrites brine and hickory smoke. Instead of having the side meat cured and smoked, you could choose to have it fresh or added to your ground or sausage meat. You can expect 5 to 8 packs of bacon of medium thickness cured and smoked from a side of pork.

What are nitrites? What is fresh bacon?
Nitrites are a preservative commonly used in cured meats. A natural preservative is used as a substitute in the no nitrites brine. This is a personal preference, we typically order ours with the no nitrites brine to sell at the market. Bacon will keep longer in the refrigerator after the package has been opened if it has been preserved with nitrates (but who’s got bacon left over, really?).

Fresh bacon, also known as pork belly, can be prepared any number of ways. You can cure it yourself, slice it into pancetta or braise it.

The ham is another section that can be either left fresh or cured and smoked. You can leave the ham whole, have it cut in half, cut into roasts or steaks. The most popular way to cut the ham is center cut ham steaks and leave the ends as roasts. The ham can also be ground.

The shoulder is located in the front section of the hog and the area from where the Boston Butt and Picnic Roast are located. The shoulder can be left whole, cut in half as a whole Boston Butt or Picnic or ground. The Boston Butt and Picnic can be further cut into roasts or steaks.

The most popular way to have the ribs cut is “spare ribs”, which are basically the whole ribs. You could instead have smaller portioned pieces, known as short ribs, or have the rib meat ground.

Ground Pork & Sausage
Any meat that you specify or whatever is not included in the cuts you’ve selected can be ground and left as ground pork or used for sausage. Our butcher has a 15lb minimum per flavor to season sausage. The amount of ground pork will vary based on the cuts you’ve selected from above. The sausage flavors we offer are:

  • - Sage
  • - Maple
  • - Hot
  • - Sweet Italian
  • - Hot Italian

You can choose to have your sausage as bulk sausage, breakfast links, breakfast patties or grillers.

Special Cuts and Organs
There are additional cuts and organs that you may be interested in, please let us know. Our butcher can generally provide whatever you are looking for.

From “The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat” (an invaluable resource for the meat lover and a Monnett Farms favorite book) by Joshua and Jessica Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats

Is Your Pork Organic?

No, our pork is not organic. We purchase weaned piglets from a local farm in St. Mary’s County. They’re raised and finished at our farm until we take them to the butcher. We keep them on pasture, in an open, outdoor area surrounded by an electrified fence. They have a house for protection and a water fountain. Pigs are omnivores and require a protein source. We purchase our pig feed from a local Amish mill. The feed contains corn and soybeans along with other small grains and minerals. We do not give them any hormones or antibiotics.

Can I Order Sides of Pork Anytime?

We only offer 2 – 3 opportunities a year to purchase a side of pork. Because the availability is limited, we generally sell out quickly. To be placed on our waiting list, please email us: sales@monnettfarms.com.

Buy Monnett Farms Meats at the Solomons Farmers Market

We are excited to announce that Monnett Farms will be at the Solomons Farmers Market for the 2014 season. This spring, we’ll have individual cuts of frozen grass fed beef and pasture raised pork as well as free range chicken eggs. Later in the season, we hope to have grass fed lamb and goat meat for sale. The Solomons Farmers Market opens Thursday May 1 and runs through November.

Solomons Farmers Market Information

Thursdays 4pm to 7pm
May 1 through November

The market is located in the parking lot adjacent to the Riverwalk, north of the Pavilion. Calvert County Farmers Markets are producer-only, meaning that the stands must sell products that are grown on their own farms or that are purchased directly from other local farmers. In addition to our meats, the Solomons Farmers Market features fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cut flowers and bedding plants.

How to start farming:
the story of Monnett Farms

One of the most common questions we get is How did you get into farming? and Did you grow up on a farm?

We moved to the farm in 2007, after we got married. We actually had our wedding reception in one of the barns and moved in that weekend.

Wedding reception at Monnett Farms

The farm originally belonged to Benson’s great-grandparents, Dennis and Lois Monnett, who settled here amidst their extended families around 1920. Benson’s grandfather, Dennis Monnett Jr. grew tobacco, like most Southern Maryland farmers. The farm was mostly quiet after he retired. A local farmer leased a few fields, but it was almost like the farm was just waiting for us to return.

Benson had been involved in agriculture since he was a child. His parents have a small farm just down the road from Monnett Farms where they always kept a few cattle, sheep, and laying hens. There was a menagerie of other animals on the farm from ducks and geese to pigs and rabbits. Benson and his brothers participated in 4H as kids and kept livestock projects.

I, on the other hand, did not grow up on a farm or have any involvement in agriculture as a child. My friends and family joke about how a farm is the last place they ever thought I’d end up. But the farm has become one of the most cherished things to me and I don’t think that there could be a better place for us to raise our family.

Start Small, Grow Slowly

Monnett Farms farm view with barns

One of the biggest advantages that Benson and I have is the actual farm itself. Access to land is the number one challenge for new and beginning farmers, especially in the Baltimore-Washington metro area where the land costs are so high.

We started small and grew slowly. We decided that we wanted to concentrate on livestock and that we wanted to be diversified. Benson also knew that he wanted to have a pasture-based operation, meaning we would raise animals on open pasture.

Do Your Homework

Kiko Goats at Monnett Farms

First, we took over the cattle operation that Benson’s parents had going. We transitioned the cows to an all-grass diet, to market grass fed beef. Next, we added goats. Benson researched various breeds and selected Kiko goats because they did well on pasture and forage diets and they were more resistant to parasites than other breeds.

Along the way, we added laying hens, pigs, sheep and dinner chickens. Each breed was carefully selected for how it would perform in a pasture based system.

Get Involved In Agriculture

Perhaps the biggest asset for us has been our involvement in the Calvert County Young Farmers. Without this organization, it’s hard to say if we’d be where we are today. This group is full of members just like us, getting started or taking over family farms. We support each other, laugh at our mistakes, give advice and just have fun.

Other agriculture groups have been very helpful including our state and local Farm Bureau, the University of Maryland Extension, SMADC, and the newly formed START Farming Network. These organizations have introduced us to other farmers, offered education about farming, and generally helped us find our way. But none have become so much a part of our farm’s story as the young farmers have.

New Farmer’s Checklist

If you want to get started in farming, the first step is to just get started. Here is a checklist of sorts:

Join a local farmer group.
In Maryland, contact your county Farm Bureau, ask about the young farmers group. The START Farming Network is another great organization started by SMADC (www.smadc.com), especially for farmers who may not be considered “young”. The group is open to farmers of all ages who are new to farming or transitioning to a new farming enterprise.

Seek training and education.
The University of Maryland Extension and SMADC offer an exceptional menu of classes and workshops for farmers in all stages and of all ages.

Read and research. Once you’ve decided what your interests in farming are, start reading and researching. Some of our favorite publications are Acres USA and The Stockman Grass Farmer, monthly publications devoted to eco-agriculture.

Look for a mentor.
There isn’t enough that can be said about learning by doing. Maryland Farm Link has a program that matches new farmers with veteran farmers in a mentorship program.

Most farmers will tell you that they do what they do because they are passionate about farming. If you have the will to farm, you’re already half way there.