2014 Local Hero Awardee: Adams Farm

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Family members Melissa Frost, Beverly Mundell, Chelsea Frost, and Noreen Health of Adams Farm. Photo credit: Edible Boston, Michael Piazza.

Each year, CISA presents three Local Hero Awards to farms, businesses, and/or individuals who exemplify our mission of strengthening the connection between farmers and the community. We applaud their hard work, social responsibility, and many contributions to sustaining local agriculture. Congratulations to our 2014 Local Hero Awardee, Adams Farm!

Adams Farm

A multi-generational farm business that has operated on family land in Athol since 1946, the Adams Farm Slaughterhouse works with local meat producers, providing a vital service to livestock farmers in Massachusetts and surrounding states.

Occupying six acres of the 128-acre Adams Farm, the slaughterhouse is the largest in New England. It processes cattle, lambs, goats, and pigs under the direct supervision of a USDA inspector, following strict Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) guidelines, and using a livestock tracking system that ensures farmers receive meat from the animal they delivered. Approximately 26,000 animals are processed each year, about a quarter of which come from individual farmers. The slaughterhouse is also Halal, Kosher, Organic, and Animal Welfare certified.

Beverly Adams joined the family business in 1955 when she married Lewis Adams, whose mother purchased the farm in 1919. Today Beverly runs the slaughterhouse with her daughter Noreen Heath and son Richard Adams. Ten of Beverly’s grandchildren are among Adams’ forty-two employees. At its retail store the Adams’ sell their own sausage, smoked products, and many cuts of different fresh meats as well as ground beef and other dairy, vegetables, spices, value-added sauces and prepared foods.

Adams Farm suffered a major setback in December 2006 when fire destroyed the meat processing plant built in 1972. Undaunted, the family drew up plans for a new state-of-the art facility that at 16,800 square feet is three times the size of the former buildings. They took advantage of this opportunity to incorporate animal holding pens and handling systems designed by Dr. Temple Grandin that ensure humane treatment of the livestock.

Obtaining the necessary financing for the new facility proved a challenge, however, because according to national viability studies Adams Farm doesn’t conform to the usual model of slaughterhouses that typically are either very small or very large. Ed Maltby joined the operation at this time and used his extensive agricultural management experience to overcome the financial hurdles.

Adams Farm rose from the ashes with vital support from extended family and the Athol community. The family has invested everything in the rebuilding effort because it is absolutely committed to serving livestock farmers. Since USDA-inspected processing is essential for commerce in local meat, Adams Farm’s services are a critical link in local meat production.

For tenacity in the face of challenges, providing an essential service in the local food infrastructure, and commitment to the humane treatment of livestock, CISA is proud to honor Adams Farm as a Local Hero.

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