The Meat of the Matter

Samuel Ehrenfeld ’07
Major: History
Family Cow Farmstand, and Sam’s Custom Butchering, Cazenovia, N.Y.

How many people do you know who have the words “diversified herd management,” “intensive grazing rotation” and “barn chores” on their resume, and are able to claim they’re experienced working with 50 pigs, 1,500 laying chickens, 1,200 meat chickens? These are some of the bragging points on Sam Ehrenfeld’s CV.

At Clark, Ehrenfeld studied history, took some premed classes, and considered law school. As graduation approached, he was still unsure which path he’d pursue — but was certain that he wanted to be outdoors.

In the fall of 2007 he began working at Essex Farm in Essex, N.Y., a year-round, diversified Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that doesn’t take its produce to market or wholesale it, but rather encourages community members to buy “full diet shares” in the farm year-round and agree to purchase all of their vegetables, meat, dairy, grains and eggs from the farm.

At Essex, Ehrenfeld spent two years managing livestock, working as a vegetable field hand and uncovering his “intense interest” in butchery and charcuterie, the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products. He later worked at a retail location, practicing whole animal butchery and turning local livestock into fresh sausage. He travels to conferences on occasion to demonstrate his skills. “I was undecided until I started farming, then that was a pretty natural fit for me,” he says. “I absolutely love what I’m doing.”

These days, Ehrenfeld can be found at a microdairy, running a small-farm butchering business. He milks the dairy’s eight cows two or three times per week to earn his share, and he looks forward to helping his friend expand the CSA at Greyrock Farm in central New York.
One might think life on a farm would be boring for a member of the always moving, ever-connected Millennial generation. Ehrenfeld admits he doesn’t have much time for outside activities, yet seems energized by his experiences.

“If you’re working with the right people, it’s wonderful,” he says.

Ehrenfeld credits Clark for the analytical and critical-thinking skills he says are essential to farming.

“It’s a question of managing what can be an extensive infrastructure, often with limited resources,” he says. “There are a lot of farmers out there who struggle to get by. The ability to incorporate their skills into building a successful, functioning, profitable farm is often very challenging.”

Ehrenfeld enjoyed his years as an undergraduate, including his involvement with the Clark Concert Choir, Ultimate Frisbee team and the ice hockey team, although he wishes he took more advantage of his time at Clark.

“But I don’t think it would’ve changed what I ended up doing,” he said.