(August 2015) – Farmers and deer hunters in north central Kentucky will soon have a new option for processing meat when a new facility opens near Campbellsburg, Ky. Trackside Butcher Shoppe is the dream of two Trimble County childhood buddies who have worked for more than two years to get the project off the ground.
Finally, last December John Edwards, 35, and Chris Wright, 35, were able to obtain a loan from United Citizens Bank in Campbellsburg to begin construction on a 6,000-square-foot meat processing center, complete with gift shop, in the Henry County Commerce Park, located at the intersection of Hwys. 55 and 421 near Campbellsburg.
Trackside Butcher Shoppe is being built in the Henry County Commerce Park near Campbellsburg, Ky.
The two men last year received $256,000 in state grant money from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, with $127,500 of that total coming from county agricultural development funds from Henry, Oldham, Owen, Shelby and Trimble counties. The state Ag Development Fund also offered them a zero interest loan up to $500,00 for the project.
The facility, estimated to cost nearly $1 million, is being constructed at 123 Commerce Pkwy., inside the Commerce Park. Poor weather hampered construction last spring, but now construction activity is in full force.
“Not only do we want to process meat for our customers, we also want to help them market their products, if they so desire,” Edward said. To do this, they plan to provide space for a gift shop for consumers to buy fresh, locally grown meat.
“There’s a high demand for beef, and not just Angus, “ Edwards said. “We want to be the processor; you can market the meat any way you want.”
When the state agricultural grant was awarded in May 2014, Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear praised the project, saying, “This facility will be a tremendous benefit to area farmers who will no longer have to travel long distances to process meat. By aiding local farmers, we are strengthening our local food movements to help get more local foods into stores and schools. This is an effort that Jane and I support in communities all across the Commonwealth."
From left, business partners and childhood friends John Edwards and Chris Wright are seeing their dream come true.
Beshear joined State Rep. Rick Rand of Bedford, State Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville and other dignitaries who attended a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 14, 2014, at the site.
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The two friends both are employed fulltime as linemen by AT&T and are part-time farmers who raise and sell beef cattle. Edwards currently serves as president of the Trimble County Cattlemen’s Association. In July, he made a presentation on the project to the cattlemen at their monthly meeting.
The two entrepreneurs say there is a need for such a processing facility in the region, and a feasibility study conducted last year on the issue proved their point. The study showed that most area farmers are having to drive more than an hour now to get to the nearest meat processing facility. With this new facility centrally located in the region, the two men hope to draw customers from Henry, Trimble, Oldham, Shelby, Owen and Carroll counties, once the facility is up and running.
A Steering Committee was formed in Henry County a year ago to push the project forward and pay for the $3,500 feasibility study. The study was conducted by the Kentucky Center for Agricultural and rural Development, and 444 area farmers responded to a survey. The results were presented to KCARD officials.
“The findings (in the survey) were favorable,” said Jon Bednarski, a Steering Committee member and member of the Oldham County Cattlemen’s Association. Bednarski owns Sherwood Acres Beef in Oldham County that produces fresh, grass-fed Belted Galloway beef cattle and supplies it to Louisville restaurants. It is also sold at the Louisville Farmers Market and marketed by the piece directly to customers.
Bednarski wrote a letter in support of the new meat processing venture in Henry County, since he currently has to travel south of Louisville to a meat processor now.
“It takes one or two hours to get to most meat processing plants,” he said. Another factor with the new facility is that “it would give farmers more control over the way things are done.”
In addition to processing and packaging beef, Edwards and Wright plan to accept hogs, lamb and goats. In deer season, they plan to make arrangements to process deer. They also hope to be able to smoke and cure meat, such as country hams and sausage.
“These are valued added services we could provide to customers,” Edwards said.
They are planning to have ample space to provide a 21-day hang time for meat, which will then be vacuum sealed for customers. They plan to also smoke and cure deer meat.
And for those farmers who have thought about finishing beef cattle, “we are interested in marketing that beef for you,” Edwards said.
The two men have a goal of processing about 20 beef cattle, eight hogs and eight goats or lamb per week.
Asked if they had future plans of providing fresh meat to area restaurants, Edwards said that was a possibility down the road if the demand is there, but for now “our primary focus is custom processing for the individual farmers.”
A new website has been launched to help promote the new business, and Edwards said pricing by hanging weight will soon be available on that website.
The site is www.TracksideButcherShoppe.com. They also have a Facebook page and will field calls about the project at (502) 221-1163.
“We see this not as a part-time hobby but our full-time jobs into the future,” Edwards said. “We want it to be a family friendly place, where you’ll see our families and children running around there. But it will also be a place devoted to helping small farmers get their products to market or processed for their own consumption. The support for this project has been amazing.”