Sunday, August 15, 2010

Erstwhile Farm; "Helping you bring good food home"

Erstwhile Farm
“Helping you bring good food home.”
By Shelly Burke, Editor

The definition of “erstwhile” is former; of times past. Larry and Lanette Stec, owners of Erstwhile Farm, LLC, a small sustainable third generation family farm, have worked hard to combine farming practices of the past with modern business practices.

On a tour several weeks ago, it was easy to see that Larry and Lanette love what they are doing—raising hogs and chickens without added growth hormones or antibiotics. The animals live outside, on dirt, in the fresh air and sunshine.

Chickens live in a moveable coop (sometimes surrounded by a moveable fence so they don’t eat from the garden) so they always have access to fresh food and can wander at will. Hogs wallow happily in mud holes. The Stecs also have a large garden and grow certified grains. Crops are rotated to cut down on weeds and keep the soil healthy.

For most of their lives the Stecs have enjoyed country living. Several years ago they decided to go organic with their crops and raise outdoor hogs. Of their decision to change the focus to chemical and antibiotic-free “farm goodness,” Larry says, “We could see that if we wanted to continue to enjoy raising pigs, we would have to add value to what we were already producing, instead of becoming a larger farm. Making the change (to go organic) was a bit scary, as there was not a local mentor to guide us. We relied on the guidance of God, through the ups and downs, with faith that this was the right decision for us. We have seen God’s hand in how the land and animals can be healthy, naturally.”

The Stecs obviously enjoy the hard work of running a business. Their children, Kellan, age 23, and Bethany, 21, and Trevor, 18, helped with the “hands on” aspects of the farm—pulling weeds, sorting pigs—when they lived at home. Now Kellan is working on setting up a website for the business. Bethany contributes her photography talents in creating brochures and advertising. Trevor will go to college this fall.

The Stecs offer organic eggs for sale, as well as seasonable vegetables and different cuts of pork. Produce and eggs are sold from the farm and at several locations in Lincoln (see below for locations). Special orders are accepted.

Recently the Stecs added fresh pork brats to their line of products. Larry and Lanette experimented to get the recipes “just right” and worked many hours to get the recipes and package labels approved so they could sell the brats. They offer several varieties of brats and they are all delicious!

Erstwhile Farm is managed as farms in the past were managed, but Larry and Lanette are always looking ahead. Future goals include growing the business on a local scale and possibly by mail order. They are also doing a feasibility study and may become certified organic with their livestock.

For more information or to purchase products from Erstwhile Farm
Columbus Area: please call {(402) 897-4065} or e-mail, for on-farm pick up.

Lincoln Area: Items may be purchased at Open Harvest, 1618 E. South St., or Idea Grocery, 905 S. 27th St.

Greater Eastern Nebraska Nebraska Food Cooperative (, online year-round farmers market and local food distribution service.

Erstwhile Farm is also on Facebook.

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