Sustainability is at the root of Kara and Darold Enright’s family business.
A fourth-generation farming business, Enright Cattle Co. sits on a 95-acre parcel of land, where Kara, Darold and their children, Corben and Evelyn, take great pride in operating an environmentally-friendly operation where the well-being of the land and the animals that inhabit it is the priority.
“We want to be able to hand the farm down and we want it to be in better condition than when we got it,” Kara said during a recent interview with Hastings County. “It just feels like the responsible thing to do.”
About 60 mature heifers live full-time at Enright and birth calves that are raised for meat. The calves live on the farm until they are fully weaned, then are transferred to Langevin Farms (Kara’s parents) just north of Enright Cattle Co. on Quin-Mo-Lac Rd., where they live a good life until they are fully grown and ready to go to the abattoir.
Kara and her husband both grew up on farms and share a passion for living with the land.
“It came from a base of being taught that it’s in everyone’s best interest to be as sustainable as possible,” Kara said. “I think quite a few farms in the area try to do things sustainably because it’s where you live and where the next generation will live. Darold and I just take it to the next level.”
Enright runs on some solar power and Kara and Darold look for ways to preserve water and manage the land and limited resources they have at the farm. They’ve even been looking for ways to end the use of bailing plastic on their round haybales and are in touch with area colleges and universities to look for alternatives.
“A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to see just how their food is processed,” Kara said. “Here, the cows eat the grass and the feed that our fields produce. Then, the manure the cows produce is spread back onto the fields, and the ground absorbs the manure to again grow the crops the cattle eat.”
It’s not just the treatment of the land that is sustainable, but the treatment of the cattle as well.
“The animals eat better than most people,” Kara joked, with round-the-clock care, nutrition checks and a life that’s relatively stress-free spent outdoors grazing and wandering about the property.
Knowing that the cattle are being raised to feed the local community, Kara said, it’s incredibly important to treat the animals with dignity and utilize every part of the cow to ensure there is minimal waste at the end of its life.
“We treat our animals with a great deal of respect,” Kara said. “You do form a connection, but what makes me feel good is we give them the best quality of life possible until that last final day.”
Aside from the meat, they also utilize the cow’s organs (tongue, liver, etc.), the fat is used by a local business to make soap, the bones are sold off to be made into broth or used for the marrow, and most recently, Enright began using the cowhide to create beautiful leather pieces including bags, accessories and even furniture.
“We had been trying to figure out had to use the hide, because here in Ontario, they’re mostly being composted,” Kara said. “So, we’ve been working with a local leather-maker to turn it into wallets, eye
glass cases – I even had a chair recovered. Leather can be made into so many things, so we’re open to more options.”
The products are all sold at Enright’s farmgate in a gorgeous, remodeled grain silo that sits at the front of the property. Inside are all the local products produced from Enright cattle, along with beef and chicken (raised by 11-year-old Corben) and seasonal vegetables. They also offer online orders for their meat and deliver everywhere between Toronto and Ottawa to cater to their customer base.
As the fall carries on, Enright has plans to continue with it’s local food box program, something Kara and Darold, along with several other farms in the area, began producing just this year in order to help each other stay afloat amid COVID-19.
“When COVID-19 hit, our major customer base (restaurants and wholesale buyers) just sort-of disappeared,” Kara said. “It was a scary time for sure.”
“People were panicking and there was a fear they weren’t going to be able to get food,” she added, prompting Enright and other local farms to come to the aid of the community and prepare fresh food boxes.
“The farmers’ box included our beef, local produce, eggs, local maple syrup, and when they were in season, it included blueberries,” she said. “During lockdown there have to have been close to 500 boxes that went out. It just kind of followed the season and people were excited to see what they would get.”
During that time, Enright also paired with two other businesses – Topsy Farms and McKinnon Bros. Brewing – to launch the #ShopLocalSEO (south eastern Ontario) campaign to highlight small businesses in the region.
Together, the three farms used their social media influence to rally a fanbase of more than 40,000 followers and shared the stories of small businesses in their region online.
“It’s so difficult to operate a small business,” Kara said about the endeavour. “It’s truer now than it has ever been before.”
Despite the challenges the year has brought, Enright has come out the other side, Kara said, and is starting to see an uptake in orders and a busier farmgate.
“The support from the local community has been really great, they started ordering from all the local farmers,” she said.
With the momentum from the community helping local farmers, Kara is excited to move forward with Enright’s annual holiday market to be held Dec. 5.
This year’s event will feature several local vendors, a photo opportunity for families to have memorable holiday pictures taken, activities, food and more.
“Last year we had several local vendors come and sell their products under one tent, people really enjoyed it. This year everyone will have to bring a separate tent but they’ll still be here,” she said. “People have been looking for something to do with their families (during COVID) and a way to safety get out.”