BLACK FOREST • Although the presence of COVID-19 has made it difficult, providing education on raising animals for healthy consumption has been a backbone of Twisted Pines Farm.
Twisted Pines Farm and its owners Grant and Alison Goldberg raise broiler birds, beef, lamb and pork on their farm in Black Forest. It is their mission to provide high quality, sustainably farmed, locally raised food that is affordable and available to their community.
For more information on Twisted Pines Farm’s products and education efforts, visit the website, TwistedPinesFarm.com.
The animals at Twisted Pines Farm are pastured, free-range products. All of the farm’s ruminant animals — those with four-chambered stomachs, such as cows and sheep — are grass-fed. The pigs and poultry, including free-range chicken and turkeys, are provided a supplemental feed milled from La Junta, as those animals are omnivores.
“We don’t do confinement housing,” said Grant Goldberg, a third-generation Colorado native. “We don’t do feed-lot housing. … Our animals are pastured every day. Our turkeys are running around getting into trouble, which is what turkeys do.”
Grant, who born and raised in Colorado Springs, and his wife, Alison Goldberg, who was raised in Georgetown, Texas, were married in 2008, when he was 20 years and she was 19. They met when Alison was in high school, and Grant was her date for senior prom.
Grant’s grandfather owned and operated a quarter-horse and cattle ranch for 40 years, but Alison said she always knew Grant would create something of his own. She just didn’t know what.
“He enjoyed hunting and we always had freezers full of meat, so now it feels like an upgraded game from that,” Alison Goldberg said.
Grant said they have always processed their own meat and the move to a professional operation in Black Forest didn’t feel like a big step from what the couple was already doing.
The couple started their Black Forest farming venture in 2014. They’d always planned to move out of Colorado Springs. Wanting to earn extra income, Grant began to read about broiler birds and started down the road of how to raise and sell them.
Grant soon learned the state of Colorado has some of the worst laws in place as far as small producing animal farms, he said. At the time, broiler birds had to be processed in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected facility. The Goldbergs reached out to one in Denver and asked it to perform the farm’s processing. At first, Twisted Pines brought the plant 1,000 birds that year. They next year were 2,000 birds and 3,000 after that. But they were thrown for a loop in 2018, when that plant went out of business.
Fortunately for the Goldbergs, the next year, Colorado legislation passed a farm-slaughter law that allowed small producers to process up to 1,000 birds, only if processed as whole birds and distributed directly to the consumer. With both turkeys and chickens, Twisted Pines fulfilled their 1,000-bird processing cap.
This year, the state offered a new regulation, which allowed Twisted Pines Farm to acquire a new license allowing the operation to become a state-inspected facility and process up to 20,000 birds and offer “cut-up” products, rather than solely whole birds.
“We now have the second state-inspected plant in Colorado,” Grant Goldberg said.
Although maintaining the integrity of its animals and the value of health-conscious farming of those animals has been a staple of Twisted Pines Farm, Grant said the education they provide to consumers is one of his biggest priorities. Every year, Twisted Pines holds workshops on raising chickens and beef with integrity; eggs; and attempts to educate the community on America’s system of meat and chicken production.
When the COVID-19 pandemic measures prevented gatherings beginning in March, the education side of the Goldberg’s operation had to operate only online, but the interest from customers didn’t dwindle.
“Our customers are fanatics about food,” Grant Goldberg said.
Twisted Pines Farm’s education efforts started out with fellow church members simply sharing recipes and soon blossomed into what it is today — sharing with the community how the owners raise and process animals for their health-minded consumer.
Alison Goldberg, who still works as a part-time orthopedic nurse in addition to her administrative role with the farm and helping raise the couple’s two boys, said being a nurse had helped her see the effects of poor eating habits firsthand.
“I see all the comorbidities on a daily basis,” she said. “We see people making bad choices about their food all the time, and you can see how much food and what people do to their bodies plays into their overall health.
“We just want people to be more aware of where their food comes from.”
Twisted Pines Farm hopes to see in-person workshops pick up again next spring, depending on what COVID-19 measures may still be present. Grant said although he doesn’t mind doing the virtual education events, he always prefers people learning from the workshops to be hands-on.
“A lot of people’s first experience with a live chicken is right here [on our farm],” Grant said.
Not only has COVID-19 presented challenges for the farm’s education efforts, but also it created a strain on supply, and on the employment of available processors and butchers. Suddenly, consumers wanted more control over their food as the pandemic reached the U.S., Alison Goldberg said.
“Every processor I’ve talked to is overwhelmed. Most have capped their booking until July 2021, and some are booking out to 2023,” she said. “Butchers are having to work 80 hours a week. There’s just not a lot of new blood in processing meat.”