Meet Your Local Farm: Short Creek Farm’s Jeff Backer
This Northwood farm focuses on creating distinctive products that reflect season and are instilled with a sense of place
The snow is long gone, the birds are chirping, and the trees are blooming, which means that spring is finally here. To help celebrate this season of extended daylight, rising temperatures, and delicious local produce, meat and flowers, we’re starting a series of “Meet Your Local Farm” profiles to introduce you to some of the farms around New Hampshire and the men and women behind them.
For our latest profile, meet Jeff Backer. Jeff is the farmer at Short Creek Farm, a farm that’s situated on 200 acres of field and forest in Northwood. Read on to learn all about the farm and how they aim to be good stewards of the land and to make real food available to the people in their community.
Tell us about the history of your farm.
Jeff: “Dave (our sausage maker) and I have been friends since high school, and we both have backgrounds in ecology and conservation science. Around when I started farming in 2010, Dave began to dabble in the art and science of homebrew charcuterie, and we realized there was a demand for high-quality and creative meat products made from well-raised local meat. In 2015, we started Short Creek Farm in Northwood with a mission to make the finest sausages, salami, and other specialty products using our own farm-raised meats and other seasonal and local ingredients, while aiming to be good stewards of the land and maintaining the highest standards for animal health and welfare.”
What makes your farm special or different?
Jeff: “What makes Short Creek special is that we are not just a farm, but we are also a food processing company focused on making high-quality value-added products like sausages, bacon, salami, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Our passion is creating unique and interesting flavors featuring local and seasonal ingredients, including meats raised on our farm in Northwood. We make some products with heritage-breed pork sourced from a co-op of family farms in the Midwest, but all of our Homegrown products, including salami, bacon, sausages, and cuts of pork and beef, are made entirely with our own 100% non-GMO-fed pastured pork and grass-fed beef. Our animals are raised responsibly, with respect for the animals, the soil, and our community.”
What’s the story behind the name of your farm?
Jeff: “Our farm covers a large flat hilltop with fields and forest extending down some natural terraces to the north. The interesting topography has created a situation where there is swampland on fairly level ground at the top of a steep hill, and then more swamp at the bottom of the hill. For maybe a couple hundred feet, there’s a short creek where the upper swamp drains into the lower. A very short creek, indeed.”
What are you best known for?
Jeff: “We are best known for creative sausage flavors such as the rustic chorizo-inspired Smoked Chili and Pumpkin, made with heirloom pumpkin and locally-grown smoked chilis, and people love our two bacon flavors, savory Seven-Spice and sweet-and-smokey uncured Maple. We make a number of classic old-world salami like Saucisson Sec and Soppressata, with new flavors like Hot Pepper Salami coming soon, made with our own lacto-fermented chili paste. Finally, we make sauerkrauts, kimchis, and other pickles using traditional lacto-fermentation with produce sourced from other local farms.”
Tell us about what you have been up to this season. Do you have any new milestones, products, events, or anything exciting planned?
Jeff: “We have big plans this year to expand our processing facility and make all of our products more widely available. By the end of the year, you should be able to find our fresh sausages, salami, bacon, and ferments at retail shops and grocery stores throughout New Hampshire, and in Maine and Massachusetts from Portland to Boston.”
Where can people find your products?
Jeff: “Our sausages are currently available only through Three River Veggie-GO, an online farm stand delivering local produce and other locally-made products directly to households throughout Southern New Hampshire, Maine, and the Massachusetts North Shore, and we have plans to make our fresh sausages available at more shops later this year. You can find our sauerkraut, kimchi, salami, bacon, and other cuts of meat on Veggie-GO and at small shops and farm stands throughout the Seacoast. Hannaford stores around Southern New Hampshire carry a few of our salami flavors, and you can order our Homegrown salami from our website.”
Will people be able to find you at any farmers markets this year? If so, which one/ones?
Jeff: “We stopped doing farmers markets when COVID hit, but we may go back this year. If we decide to do markets this summer, you’ll definitely find us at the Portsmouth market on Saturday mornings. Even if we don’t, we’ll always be grateful for the role that farmers markets around the Seacoast played in helping us get our business off the ground.”
How can people best support you right now?
Jeff: “The best way to support us is by seeking out and purchasing our products, whether it be ordering online for home delivery via Three River Veggie-GO, shopping at a local farm stand or specialty food store, or just popping into Hannaford on your way home from work to pick up a Short Creek salami. You can order Homegrown salami on our website, where you’ll also find a list of retailers that carry our products. And if you like our products, please tell your friends!”