3822 Dominion Rd., Ridgeway
At 400 square feet of retail space, ‘Your Farm Gate’ looks small. But this chef-focused, chef-run butcher shop in Ridgeway is mighty.
That’s because of owner and culinarian Shawn Murphy’s dedication to Your Farm Gate’s MO: “It was always about being a hub for local food.”
Murphy does that by specializing in whole animal butchery, using everything he can at the meat counter he operates or in the dishes he makes in the 1,700 square feet of production space behind the scenes.
Murphy’s focus is on sourcing local, Ontario and Canadian products from producers who have as much passion and purpose as he does to change foodways and help people eat more conscientiously.
Murphy’s secret is to buy direct from farmers, including chicken from Fenwood Farms in Ancaster, lamb from Beverly Creek Farms in Millgrove, pork from Linton Pasture Pork in Walton, and beef from Penokean Hills Farm in Sault Ste. Marie for his whole animal butchery program and boxed beef from Atlantic Beef, a farmer-owned co-operative in PEI.
What Murphy learns in his quest for quality from his suppliers, who also work with Canada’s most highly rated restaurants, he shares with his customers at Your Farm Gate.
“I can usually tell by looking at pork, for example, I know through the taste, how it’s raised,” Murphy said. “The quality (of Linton Pasture Pork) stands above and beyond.”
Those relationships Murphy nurtures also result in competitive prices at Your Farm Gate while ensuring producers, not middlemen, get the profits.
Given Murphy’s niche as a whole animal butcher, Your Farm Gate is the local source for any cut, even a rare bone-in pork belly. But as those lesser-known cuts grow their fan base, Murphy uses his skills in the kitchen to turn them into well-known dishes.
Mixed cuts of beef, or chicken and leeks, get wrapped in ethereal pastry made using pork lard, Sterling butter and flour from 1847 Stone Milling.
Staying true to his Irish roots, Murphy makes room on his focused menu for a classic sausage roll using his own banger recipe. There are fresh lasagnas to be had, too.
Come summer, it’s not uncommon to find Murphy firing up the grill outdoors. Again, it’s another way to use up some of those cuts that aren’t yet household names. But it also serves as a gateway to conversation, questions and education.
“I wanted to sell the best product but not to be a stuffy place. It’s just fun,” he said.
Your Farm Gate also offers fresh produce brought in from local farms, including certified organic Chez Nous in Ridgeway and Calico Farms in Wainfleet, and fruit from Haist Farms in Fonthill. Also a green thumb, Murphy offers his own homegrown tomatoes, sold fresh or in his seasonal tomato ricotta tart.
When local produce is scarce, like at this time of year, Murphy relies on Lococo’s, a Niagara specialty grocer and supplier, to keep shelves stocked.
“It seems like a lot going on but it’s no different than a Longo’s serving you a sandwich and then selling you canned goods and other food,” Murphy said about Your Farm Gate’s broad offerings.
And it’s about connecting the dots, he added. Come in for meat, grab a ready-made sauce and some veggies, and dinner is almost served.
Over the three years Murphy has operated in Ridgeway, his list of customers has grown because they know shopping at Your Farm Gate isn’t a mere transaction. With Murphy, they can engage in heady conversations about food systems, turn to him for guidance on how to prepare a dish, or partake in some convivial banter with the man himself.
“It’s very much an educational experience for people who don’t know and a familiar experience for those who do,” Murphy said. “We try to have as much fun as possible.”
Get in Touch: yourfarmgate.ca, @yourfarmgate on Instagram
Author: Tiffany Mayer
Follow her on Instagram: @eatingniagara