Vero Beach Magazine Excerpt – Local Flavor – March 2012

Crazy Hart Ranch owner Linda Hart has been raising meat chickens, Cornish game hens, heritage turkeys and laying hens for a more modest nine years. The business began as a backyard operation but became commercially certified in 2007, spurred by a phone call from Chef Michael Lander a year earlier. Hart has been rallying for small-farm interests statewide, most recently helping to re-write rules pertaining to eggs and poultry. If all goes well, she says, she’ll soon be able to sell eggs without the “for pet consumption” label currently required due to some bogus food safety concerns. Once building codes for processing facilities are created, Hart also plans to start her own small-scale poultry processing plant rather than rely on the only currently approved facility in Ocala. Pre-slaughter, between 2,000 and 3,000 birds roam freely on at least five grassy acres in Fellsmere throughout the year. Hart says she’s happy to have buyers visit the ranch and inspect the feed anytime.

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Indian River County’s small farmers are struggling to meet a growing demand for fresh produce from chefs and consumers alike.
EAT LOCAL, EAT FRESH
BY DEBORAH BORFITZ

Vero Beach Magazine Excerpt – Jan 2010

Linda Hart is the only farmer in Indian River County who is licensed by the USDA and Florida Department of Agriculture to sell poultry. She raises chickens and turkeys on her five-acre Crazy Hart Farm in Fellsmere. Now in her third year, she produced 1,000 chickens her first year and doubled that number the second year. This is still considered small, but is big enough for the one-woman operation. Hart markets to many of the same clubs and restaurants as O’Dare, as well as to a growing number of private clients.

“It’s not just high end,” she stresses. “Ordinary people who are concerned about health, safety and quality for themselves and their children are also very good customers.”

“They realize that buying locally is the only way they can know exactly what they are getting. Big processors have accountability to the government; I have accountability to my customers. If I put out a bad product, I will be out of business before the food safety people ever get to my place.”

Hart starts with chicks from hatcheries that are out of state and raises them from three to eight weeks, feeding them a specific high-protein diet. “At three or four weeks, we produce a Cornish game hen; at six weeks, we have a chicken and at eight weeks, a roaster. It’s all one bird, and just depends on how long we grow it out.”

Hart handles her own processing at a plant in Ocala, which is one of the requirements for her license. “I hire a crew of six to eight and we can process 300 to 500 chickens in one day.”

She sells her poultry at both the Oceanside Farmers’ Market and the Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market, and is gaining recognition and support from local chefs. Chef Landers ordered 300 Cornish game hens for Christmas for the Moorings Club. And Jeff McKinney, executive chef of the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club, sponsored a turkey tasting for Hart in 2009.

“Jeff invited a number of chefs and caterers and he cooked one of my turkeys and a brand-name turkey,” Hart says. Everyone rated her locally raised turkey far superior. This past holiday season she provided over 160 turkeys for local family and restaurant dinners.

Hart is also gaining professional recognition. Last summer at the Florida Small Farmers’ Conference, sponsored by the University of Florida and Florida A&M, she received one of three prestigious Florida Innovative Farmer Awards.

VBM_LocalFlavor-JAN-2010

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BUY LOCAL, BUY FRESH
BY MARY BETH VALLAR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DENISE RITCHIE

Field to Feast – The Local Palate – October 2012

Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans (2012)

Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand, and Heather McPherson have compiled a beautiful book of Florida’s bounty that feels like a drive through the coastal woodlands and the country roads of the Sunshine State. Full of portraits of the people who grow and cook the plethora of foodstuffs Florida offers. Field to Feast is at once a travel companion, coffee-table book, and useful cookbook. The recipes are diverse: Chefs James and Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig offer an Alsatian Tart with Spring Peach Salad, which contrasts nicely with Brined and Herb Butter-Basted Turkey from Crazy Hart Ranch in Fellsmere. It’s a delicious and unique portrayal of a thriving culinary landscape.

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thelocalpalate