Home on the Range
Anya Fernald runs a high-quality, sustainable mini meat empire. But teaching her kids to cook at her farm in northern California is what makes her most proud.
Anya Fernald is a carnivore with a conscience. She opened her California-based butchery, Belcampo Meat Co., in 2012, in part to ease her guilt about consuming meat but also to find alternatives to the subpar stuff she was buying. Her goal: Make sure that every part of the farming and production process was sustainable and hygienic and that, at the end of the day, all of the meat was delicious.
For seven years, she's run her own meat-supply chain, which involves everything from creating organic animal feed to packaging on-site. That high-quality meat is shipped to six popular Belcampo retail butcher–restaurants (located throughout California and now in New York City), plus customers willing to pay a premium for dry-aged sustainable, grass-fed protein (through her robust e-commerce business). And she's done all of this while raising two young kids, Viola and Theo (now seven and three).
The headquarters of her meat empire is the 27,000-acre Belcampo Farms, located at the base of Mt. Shasta, four hours north of Anya's Bay Area home. The farm is where all the meat production happens. It's also the location of Belcampo's Meat Camps, where visitors learn basic butchery and the fundamentals of live-fire cooking.
A bonus use for the location? It's the ultimate playground for her kids. When school lets out for the summer, this single mom escapes with them to the farm, where they have plenty of room to run, play, and squeeze lemons for homemade lemonade.
Most mornings on the farm start the same way: a walk with Mom to the garden to pick vegetables and then to the Belcampo kitchen to get some meat and bone broth for that night's dinner. "The farm has everything we need," Anya says, so they rarely have a reason to go to a grocery store.
The kids are young, but Anya doesn't mind letting them experiment in the kitchen, even if that turns it into a high-steaks situation. "If my daughter wants to sprinkle salt on a piece of meat—even though I know it's way too much—I tell her to go for it, try it, and then taste it afterward and see if she likes it," Anya explains. "I'm not gonna say, 'No no no, too much salt—stop!' I like that she's learning and making her own mistakes."
If Viola and Theo make something themselves, Anya has found that they're more likely to eat it. "After we'd picked herbs together and thrown them in the blender, suddenly they loved our parsley-lemon 'green sauce' and ate it by the spoonful," she ys.
While Viola is into meat, Theo is all about dessert! He's an enthusiastic baker—sometimes overly so. "We were making a cake, and Theo loves cracking the eggs by himself," Anya says. "I turned around and he cracked, like, eight eggs into the cake instead of two. So I doubled the dry ingredients, and we had a dense, eggy cake—a Theo cake! A delicious mistake."