Fairfax – Aaron Rainville and his wife, Tara, have found a way to keep the farm in the family.
“I don’t want to raise my family anywhere else,” Aaron, 33, said, while seated with Tara in the Rainvilles’ Fletcher Road farmhouse, in Fairfax.
The Rainvilles own Meadow Brook Market, where they raise and sell beef and pigs to sell in their retail store, a converted milk house on the property where Aaron’s family farmed for three generations.
Aaron and Tara opened Meadow Brook Market in June 2012, raised 100 pigs, and eventually harvested 70 of them, to meet demand.
This year, they expect to double their load of pigs, to between 140 and 150, and go through more beef – probably 10 to 12 cows, up from five last year.
“If I can send more (to process), I’m definitely going to do it,” Aaron said.
The Rainvilles have their meat processed by Vermont Livestock, of Ferrisburgh. Tara’s father, Carl Cushing, former head of consumer protection for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (VAAFM), owns Vermont Livestock.
“We had the best teachers you could ask for in our dads,” said Tara, who also works full-time at a Williston bagel shop. She and Aaron, who have been together five years, have a daughter, Kayleigh, 4.
Aaron’s grandparents, Joe and Cecile Rainville, bought the 180-acre farmstead that now contains Meadow Brook Market in the 1940s. Joe and Aaron’s father, Claude, were in a partnership, until Claude and his wife, purchased the farm in the mid-1980s.
Claude milked 80 Holsteins, and Aaron worked in the farm, until Claude retired in the 1990s.
Aaron was working at Vermont Livestock when he bought two pigs to occupy an empty barn on the Rainville farm property. He sold one and kept one.
“And that’s how it all took off,” he said.
Aaron stopped working at Vermont Livestock last September, after a busy, busy summer at Meadow Brook Market. Normal pigs take seven to eight months to be ready for market, so he was working 15-plus-hour days between Meadow Brook and Vermont Livestock.
“I was a dead man every time I came home,” he said.
Meadow Brook Market is the small piece of a larger picture, the Rainvilles said. This month, they will open a snack bar that serves their own pork and beef products, with a focus on farm-to-table cooking. Tara and Aaron graduated from a food safety-training course at the University of Connecticut before they opened Meadow Brook Market.
The goal, however, is to use Meadow Brook to purchase the farm.
“I want people to see that this is a one-of-a-kind place,” Aaron said.
He then recalled a customer that stopped last year, looked for him in the store, and couldn’t find him. Instead, she walked to a nearby barn and found Aaron with a sow that was having babies.
“Now, she’s a steady customer and sends lots of people up to see me,” he said. “They think this is the greatest thing.”