Our business member Pasture to Plate (P2P) has a lot of reasons to celebrate this year: they recently won the Top Choice Meat Shop Award 2020 in Vancouver and they celebrate 40 years of ranching and 20 years of Pasture to Plate!
Pasture to Plate offers high quality meats that are organic, biodynamic, non-medicated and pasture raised. All animals are raised outdoors at the Rafter 25 Ranch in Redstone, BC where the animals are born, grown and fattened organically and harvested respectfully. This vertically integrated business provides a sustainable and transparent food chain and a wholesome food production.
Melanie Ferreira from the SCCC had the chance to talk to Barbara Schellenberg, General Manager of Pasture to Plate (P2P) and daughter of the founders Jasmin and Felix Schellenberg.
Barbara, 40 years of ranching and 20 years of Pasture to Plate – these are numbers to be proud of, congrats! Tell us a bit how everything started.
Thanks! It’s been quite an exciting journey. During the summer of 1977 my parents hitchhiked through Canada and after they got married in 1979, they decided to emigrate from Switzerland to Canada. In Redstone, BC, they started to ranch with a long-time friend and for 16 years they ranched conventionally. When we kids became teenagers the organic shift started. In the year 2000 they started to sell organic beef at different farmers’ markets in Vancouver. At this time, they were one of the pioneers for organic beef in the lower Mainland. In 2011, my parents opened their first butcher shop on Commercial Drive and 6 years later we opened the Grill, Deli & butcher shop on Denman Street.
Today my parents run the Rafter 25 Ranch and since 2013 the restaurant Kinikinik, Gift Shop & Accommodations next in Redstone where you can dine wholesome food made from scratch and stay at beautiful timber frame buildings. You can also visit the Ranch for a ranch tour and visit Chilcotin Harvest where animals are harvested with respect.
What inspired your parents to start their own Ranch in Canada?
Back in the day, my mom was a teacher and my dad was studying Agriculture. They were looking for an adventure and at that time Canada seemed like the right choice.
You stand for organic values and high-quality products, but also state that good food has its price. Why is organic meat usually more expensive?
The simple answer is that organic animals cost more to raise because we do not feed conventional and thus heavily subsidized grains. Pasture to Plate beeves are 28 – 40 months old when they are harvested versus 18 months or under for conventional feedlot finished animals. We do not feed nor inject antibiotics, growth promoting hormones or vaccines.
What are the biggest challenges for your business and how do you overcome them?
We have to create each and every customer. No one just walks into our shops to just buy meat. They want to hear the story. Our butchers craft our very own, delicious charcuterie items with traditional recipes originating in Switzerland and a few of them are foreign to part of our customer base, so we offer taste testers to promote acquiring a taste. Having staff going the extra mile did help winning last and this year’s Top Choice Meat Shop award twice in a row in Vancouver.
You are doing exciting business changes in 2020. Tell us more about it.
We want to give back to our customers thus we reduced beef products 10% in price and offer every Tuesday ground beef for $6 dollars a pound (instead of $10). Also, we started offering twice weekly delivery in the Vancouver area, weekly to Squamish / Whistler and monthly to Victoria. This service has been working pretty well, especially for customers that don’t have a car, are very busy or don’t want to leave the house.
Furthermore, we are investing in our website and new technologies. We partnered up with a blockchain company to label our meats with QR-codes. This will enable customers to trace our meat’s journey from pasture to plate. Last but not least, we are looking into possibilities to expand our Ranch and turn it into a potential wedding venue with a spa. We are currently in discussion with the Swiss timber framer Oliver Tritten and his Timber frames company to realize this project.
You were born and raised here in BC. Do you still cherish your Swiss heritage?
For sure! We grew up with Swiss German and a lot of traditional Swiss food. I feel like we had more Swiss food than a Swiss family living in Switzerland. I really enjoy a good Fondue or Raclette and so do my kids. They would love to have it once a week. We also have some Swiss employees at the Ranch, in the shops and restaurants, so I am often in company with my heritage. I try to spend a little time in Switzerland every year or two. I have taken the kids a few times as well, and they enjoyed it very much.
Thank you Barbara for taking the time to talk to us, we appreciate your insights!