by Terry Rogers
Ken Blessing is excited about the many new products available at Mule Run Meats. The product line has expanded significantly since the market opened in 2016.
“We now carry Vandewende Ice Cream in a lot of different flavors,” Mr. Blessing said. “We also have a new hamburger line including a ½ pound bacon cheddar burger that is just awesome. Right now, our local produce includes pole beans, asparagus and strawberries, although we also have sweet corn and tomatoes from Florida. As soon as they are available locally, we’ll have local products. Blueberries should be available at the end of June. We now carry a line of exotic meats, including bison and elk. These are growing in popularity since both bison and elk are lower in cholesterol. We’ve added striped bass and crabmeat from the Chesapeake as well.”
Blessing and his wife, Sherry, try to purchase as much meat, dairy and produce from local farms as they can. They carry Langfelder Farms pork and have just added free-range eggs from Sam Yoder. TA Farms provide the turkey products sold in the market and the Blessing’s supply all the goat and beef sold in the market.
“Goat is actually one of the most consumed meats in the world,” Blessing said. “With more people traveling to Africa, South American and the Caribbean, they are trying recipes IN other countries using goat. When they come home, they want to recreate them so we are seeing an increase in customers who are purchasing goat. We carry artisan cheeses from Cheese Board in Milford and we just added a line of Amish country butter. We have garlic and herb, cinnamon and regular butter. Seasonally, we also carry a pumpkin butter that is really good.”
Customers are also asking for different cuts of meat, Blessing explained. Rouladen is a thinly sliced beef that is commonly used for German recipes. According to Blessing, a few of his customers brown the beef and then stuff it with grilled peppers and onions. The demand has grown to the point that the Blessings have had to expand their herd.
“We have reorganized the store a bit so that items are better displayed,” Blessing said. “We offer a lot more specialty products, like bacon-wrapped chicken breast. We have a chicken and pork loins wrapped in bacon that a lot of people are using for appetizers. They are absolutely delicious. One bite is just not enough.”
The Blessings try to keep things as chemical-free and natural as possible. Blessing said that they greet everyone who enters the store and thank them for visiting.
“Our main goal is to keep old-fashioned values alive and well in our market,” Blessing said. “We work with the community and we are so appreciative of the customer base who not only started in this venture with us, but have stayed with us. They have spread the word and now our product is selling itself. People from out-of-state have found us and return week after week for our product. I am sure it is because we sell our food at a fair proce and we treat our customers right. I am surprised at the speed at which we have grown. The only reason I can think of is that our market is a good, clean environment and we highly appreciate your business.”
Because the beef sold at Mule Run Meats is raised on the Blessing farm, the couple wants to make sure that every customer is happy with the quality of their meat. Blessing said that when customers return and tell him that they were extremely happy with the beef, he gets a great feeling.
“We get a lot of customers who come in who are not familiar with agriculture and I feel it is my job to help educate them,” Blessing said. “I am not an expert, but I know my product and I have been able to answer questions. The agricultural community has got to reach out and educate the consumer on how things truly are. People want farm-to-table. There is so much distrust of large corporations and imported foods. I think this has a lot to do with our growth.”
Blessing says that he is overwhelmed with the response he has received. Mule Run Meats will not be at the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market this year as the company’s growth has made it difficult for the company to spare employees for a table downtown each Saturday.
“For those who were counting on seeing us there, I sincerely apologize,” Blessing said. “I am hoping all those customers will come out to the store to purchase their meats, dairy and produce.”
Mule Run Meats is now open four days each week. On Thursday, they are open from 2 PM until 6 PM. They are open Friday, Saturday and Monday from 12 Noon until 6 PM. The Blessings also provide freezer-prepared beef and hogs as well. The market is located at 1931 Bowman Road in Milford and can be reached by phone at 302-242-2281.
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