As an amateur chef, Matthew Lawrence quickly learned that the quality of meat used in a meal has a huge impact on the final product. As he catered local weddings and competitions, he struggled to find local and sustainable meat from farmers nearby. To improve his craft and provide a better alternative to grocery store meats, Matthew and his wife Jesie decided to create what they were searching for by starting their own sustainable multi-species pasture farm in Sylacauga, Alabama. After all, as Matthew says, nature is where all the activity happens.
If starting their own farm wasn’t ambitious enough, Matthew and Jesie also built their own USDA inspected processing facility to service both their farm and other local farmers. Providing a local processor for the community results in better meats for everyone.
Photo by Kelsey Freeman
“It’s critical that we do our own processing,” he says. “We want to make sure the the absolute best food product gets to the customer’s table. Controlling our own facility is difficult but it makes our farm different. It truly is craft butchery and craft farming.”
With 40 acres of open pastures and woods, Marble Creek Farmstead provides plenty of space for their animals to enjoy the land without destroying the earth. Their 100% pasture-raised chickens spend their entire lives grazing on lush pastures that include a wide variety of nutritious grasses like bahia, clover, rye, dandelions, thistle, bluegrass, and much, much more. The flock enjoys supplemental feed of non-GMO corn, barley, wheat, sunflower seeds, and soybean meal.
“I know if I did good work because the animals are happy and the land is good,” shares Matthew. “Farming requires self-reflection for success. If you work hard at being better every day, you see a positive response to that.”
Photo by Kelsey Freeman
Matthew sees farming as similar to distance hiking. As an avid hiker, he knows all about the stamina involved and the need to always figure things out. The challenges associated with running a successful farm and processing facility are not unlike the difficulty of hiking the Appalachian trails (and he would know - he’s done both).
To help keep Marble Creek operating smoothly, the Lawrences share their successes with their employees. They focus on creating strong job opportunities for those who may not otherwise have them in the rural parts of Alabama.
“Ultimately, this is about family and community in the context of a very animal-focused humane farming,” says Matthew.
From caring for the animals daily to sharing meals with the farm employees to catching chickens with his young son, Matthew Lawrence embodies the kind of passionate farmer that makes a great Crowd Cow partner. We’re very excited to offer pasture-raised chickens from Marble Creek Farmstead.
Since we launched Crowd Cow just over 2 years ago, we’ve been committed to connecting our members with ranchers producing some of the best beef in the world, and making it as convenient as possible to support them. You've told us from the start that you want us to apply those same values of transparency and convenience to other meats, too. So that’s why today we’re excited to offer pasture-raised chicken from independent farmers committed to our mission.
Q: What does it mean that my chicken is "butterflied"? All that means is that the chicken has been split down the spine. Also known as "spatchcocked," butterflied chickens are great because they lie flat, and thus are easier to store and will cook more evenly. Even if you choose to cut away the spine, don't throw it away! It makes a great base for jus or nutrient-rich chicken stock.
Q: Will my chicken arrive frozen? Yes indeed!
Q: How much freezer space will I need for my chickens? Butterflied chickens take up a bit less space than their non-split counterparts, because they lie much flatter. You'll need approximately the following freezer space by volume:
For the 5-pack: 0.75 cubic ft
For the 3-pack: 0.45 cubic ft
Q: Are neck, gizzards, or other parts included? Neck, livers, gizzards, and feet are not included.
Q: How do I cook a butterflied chicken? Not to worry, it's quite simple. We've got a couple recipes to get you started, like this Oven-Roasted Butterflied Chicken Au Jus recipe. Or if you're grilling, give the Smoky Paprika-Grilled Butterflied Chicken recipe a try. Enjoy!