Organic farm plans $1 million meat processing facility

Kandace Dietschweiler-Hartley poses for a portrait at her route 68 farm in Oswegatchie. Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley is planning to build a 6,000 square foot slaughterhouse and retail outlet. Photo by Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times.

Kandace Dietschweiler-Hartley is planning to build a 6,000 square foot slaughterhouse and retail outlet in Oswegatchie. Photo by Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times.

OSWEGATCHIE — A local farm that already specializes in certified organic meat and other regional agriculture products is planning construction this spring of a 6,000-square-foot slaughterhouse and meat processing facility that will include an adjacent retail store and gas station along state Route 68 near the Ogdensburg International Airport.

When completed, the $1 million investment is expected to generate between 50 and 70 jobs.

Serenity Acres Farm Store and Custom Meats, owned by Kandace Dietschweiler-Hartley, at 6489 Route 68, currently sells meat and milk that is certified organic. Other agricultural goods including maple syrup, raw honey, cheese curd and other dairy products are also sold.

Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley said Friday that she has outgrown her existing space and will begin construction in March on a larger retail farm store that will include a USDA inspected organic slaughterhouse and meat processing facility on a 50-acre parcel of property purchased about three years ago. The new location, which borders on her existing farm, was formerly known as the “Flea Market” in Ogdensburg. She said the new slaughterhouse will be approximately 6,000 square feet and conform to all U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements.

The facility will use the latest technology and design to humanely process a minimum of 40 conventional and organic livestock per week, with the goal of doubling that number within two years of beginning operations.

The anticipated summer opening of Serenity Acres Custom Meats will allow local farmers the infrastructure to have their meats processed in St. Lawrence County with a variety of options that include conventional USDA inspection or certified organic, according to Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley.

Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley said she has been planning the new venture for several years, and has already developed a network of more than 25 local and regional farmers who are interested in providing products.

“My plan is to have all local producers, that’s the key,” Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley said.

In addition to operating a slaughterhouse, her business plan calls for creation of a separate store, kitchen and deli center that will sell lunch and dinner items as well as locally grown USDA meat, and made-to-order subs, sandwiches and fresh baked bread. The warehouse-style store will also offer dry bulk sales of sugar, flour, candies, spices and nuts. A gasoline and kerosene station will also be on site.

The proposed farm store will be approximately 38 by 125 feet.

Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley said the 6,000-square-foot slaughterhouse will cost about $600,000 and the farm store approximately $400,000.

Serenity Acres Farm currently has 365 certified organic cattle, with about 85 of those used exclusively for dairy. The others are a combination of meat and heifer stock. Last year the farm grew 108 beefs and 260 hogs, as well as a large number of organic chickens and geese.

During the past year the farm has been working closely with Nicole E. Day Gray of AgriForaging, Inc., an agricultural infrastructure and food safety compliance firm in Delaware County, according to Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley. In a press statement Friday, Ms. Gray said her company has enjoyed working with Serenity Acres Farm in the development and design of the new slaughterhouse and meat processing facility.

“Kandace, the farmer, owner and operator of Serenity Acres Farm has been immersed in the north country agricultural community her entire life and offers an incredible depth of local relationships with regional farmers and agricultural enterprises,” Ms. Gray said. “The design and engineering plans have been completed and site work is underway.”

The founder and owner of Serenity Acres Farm, Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley has been working in the farming and agriculture business for over 40 years. Her farm provides Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York certified organic milk and USDA-inspected fresh, frozen meats. The farm’s small retail store on Route 68 began business in May 2008 and sells prepackaged frozen USDA-inspected meats, along with farm fresh extra-large eggs, local honey, maple syrup, cheese curd and regional produce.

By Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times