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.
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