Field Report: John Crow Farm's Meat CSA

I’ve been on the hunt for a subscription to a good meat CSA and in my scouring came across a new one through John Crow Farm in Groton. I’ve tried meat CSAs in the past and love the concept: just like the veggie version, for a small fee you get a monthly subscription of locally raised beef, pork, chicken and lamb direct from the farm. The portions are frozen so they’ll keep for the entire month or longer — and you’re supporting a tiny but well-deserving local business. After speaking to John Crow farm owner, Robert Varisco, I think I’ve found my match.

Varisco started farming about 2 years ago — shortly after his job in information systems was eliminated. The 40-something told me that he wishes his story was “more poetic” but the hard reality was that he needed to find a new gig, pronto. He started by farming the small bit of land he owned but then last fall, found an 80+ acre property in Groton that he was able to lease. There, he and his partner have set themselves up to pasture raise several Scottish Highland cattle, a few types of sheep, some goats, and a few “mutt” pigs (cross breeds that are actually very smart) as well as chickens, ducks, partridge, quail, and rabbit. As Varisco says, “whatever people want to eat it, I’d like to raise it.”

The former process analyst doesn’t even mind that he’s given up working on a laptop in his pajamas. The 14 hours-per-day of hard labor are entirely worth it. “I hope this is what I get to do for the rest of my life,” he says.

John Crow started its CSA in January but another run begins in June (subscriptions are six months long). Subscribers can sign up to receive from 5 to 25 pounds of meat each month and will receive a little bit of everything: ground beef, pork chops, lamb tenderloin and maybe a whole chicken. There’s a poultry subscription, too. Pick ups take place monthly in Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, or in some cases, delivered by Metro Pedal Power.

If you’re up that way, Varisco tells me their farm stand will have its soft opening next Friday, April 29. It’ll have more official hours after the grand opening on June 2. Until then, sign up for the CSA and keep an eye on the calendar for your first pick up.

Sign up for a CSA online by June 1st; John Crow Farm, 170 Old Ayre Rd., Groton, 978-235-4708,