Kukburg Farm to Table offers sustainable meat

The farm has several regular events and also delivers fresh beef and lamb

People have become increasingly concerned about the origin of the meat they eat. A small farm called Kukburg - Farm to Table, located near Prague just outside the city of Černošice, offers beef and lamb grown in a sustainable manner. They hold different types of events at the farm’s villa, which has a grand hall and in good weather outdoor seating, and also sell directly to a small base of customers. The villa can also hold special events such as weddings or team buildings.

Currently they have 120 cows and 400 sheep, which will increase in April. “We work on 250 hectares, of which half is used for everything that is animal related – pastures, making feed, etc., and on the other half we grow wheat or different types of grain that either we sell or use as complimentary feed for the cows,” Kukburg’s manager Benjamin Sittler said. It is a family business with a small staff, and everyone does a bit of everything.

“We work in a closed circle. If there are too many weeds, we cut them down, make bales and feed it to the animals,. There is no loss. It is a closed circle which is actually the traditional way of doing it,” he added.

While the farm does not use pesticides, antibiotics or hormones, it is not certified as organic. Sittler said certification required a lot of paperwork, and the farm would not benefit from it. “With us selling directly to clients, they do not need proof because they know how we work. So we decline that label and we try to create our own quality label with our brand and how we work,” he said.

The farm’s Scottish highland cows are semi-wild, with long red hair. “The meat is very good in its taste and very good in its quality.

The cows can withstand freezing cold and also happy in the shade in the summer. They are always outside. When they are covered in snow they are the happiest cows in the world,” Sittler said. The bulls have to be tamed for technical reasons and are more approachable than the cows.

The sheep are also a special variety. “Skudde sheep are very practical to work with. Easy to handle,. smaller, not too big, and resistant to cold. Economically they are not that interesting, not that much meat on them. The principal is not to make money but to work on a project that makes sense,” he said.

People tend to go toward beef first then they try lamb later. Easter is a big season for lamb.

“A lot of people don’t like the lamb taste or the sheep taste, which we don’t have. One of the things that is special about Skudde is that they don’t have this heavy taste,” he said.

The farm has a direct relationship with its customers. “In summer people call us and say ‘I need 30 kilos of sausage.’ We prepare it the day before so it is always fresh. This is what people appreciate about us, the personal contact and the fact that we can make the things the way they want it,” he said.

Meat, and beef in particular, has been coming under scrutiny as a contributor to environmental problems. “Our philosophy is: do not eat meat every day but when you eat meat, eat quality meat. That is what we do in our family. What we encourage people to do is not buy supermarket meat every day but buy meat from us that is much higher quality, doesn’t have hormones or antibiotics, and eat it once a week or twice a week,” he said.

Catering and events are a large part of the farm’s business.

“My family lives in the old cultural house of the town which was built for former Czechoslovak president Antonín Zápotocký. “My parents bought it in the 1990s and rebuilt it. There is a big hall, like a concert hall with a stage, and we added another building with a terrace and a pool. So we use these facilities to do weddings, team buildings, training and seminars,” he said.

They also have three types of regularly scheduled events: Brunch, Gourmet Lounge and Matinée.

They are reservation-only, and about 30 to 40 people come for several hours.

“They are served various dishes cooked fresh from the kitchen. In the winter these happen inside and in the summer it happens outside with access to the pool,” he said.

“The matinee is more of a sales event. We sell our products, we have our neighbor coming in, a friend who makes homemade yogurts,” he added.

Everything is made fresh, even the soft drinks. Wine is imported from small producers in France who try to work in sustainable way. There is also live music.

The farm doesn’t do much catering of outside events, as it doesn’t fit their basic philosophy of serving food fresh from the kitchen.

Sittler studied agricultural management in Paris for five years, and came back two and half years ago to get re-involved in the daily operations of the farm. The farm itself is about 10 years old, and was started by his parents.

He has been involved in modernizing the operations, with an internal management app that tracks each individual farm animal from birth to packaging. An electronic map shows the herd movements from pasture to pasture.

He described the farm as “conservative but trying to be modern on the inside.”

For more information visit farmtotable.cz or www.facebook.com/kukburgfarm.

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