THANK A FARMER: Ervin Township Meats raising, selling local beef

·3 min read

Jul. 16—Ask anyone what Indiana is known for farming most and you'll almost certainly hear corn, soybean and maybe pigs.

What you're unlikely to hear is beef. And for good reason.

In 2021, Indiana ranked 35th in the country in total beef cows. The Hoosier state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has 194,000 beef cows, or 0.62% of the country's total beef production.

Tom Wilson and Bobby McCain are part of that 1%. Their goal? Sell you the best tasting meat you can buy.

The two are from families who have farmed for more than 100 years, including raising cattle. In May 2021, the two decided to start a new venture in Ervin Township Meats selling Indiana born and raised beef directly to the general public.

As the company's name suggests, the business operates on a farm in rural Ervin Township eight miles west of Kokomo. The cows are born in Worthington, Indiana, and make their way to Howard County in April of each year when they are 8 months old.

They live in Howard County for about a year before they're sent to the packing company Fisher Meats in Portland, Indiana. Ervin Township cows are grass-fed, grain finished and are mostly angus and angus-cross breeds. Both this year and last year, the two raised 85 cows for Ervin Township Meats; The farmers also raise and sell pork products, such as sausage, bratwurst and bacon.

"Our main goal is to get that direct farm to table approach here locally," McClain said.

To do that, Ervin Township Meats participate in the Kokomo Farmers Market and have their own freezer in downtown's The Radish Market & Cafe, 119 W. Sycamore St., that sells their meat.

The business sells all the major beef cuts one would expect — New York Strip, sirloin and top sirloin, ribeye, ground beef and more. The company also offers their cows in quarters, halves and as a whole for those who like to stock up the freezer.

The company has also invested heavily in sponsoring local events, such as the Riverwalk Concert Series and the Howard County 4-H Fair as ways to get its name out to the public and support the local community.

Perhaps the company's biggest partnership has been with the downtown bar and restaurant The Coterie. The two approached owner Kyle Gibson with their product. He loved it, and the bar and restaurant have made Ervin Township Meat a staple of their menu, often using the beef and pork for the restaurant's signature burgers and other menu items.

"It's blossomed into a beautiful relationship," McCain said.

And the meat has also been a hit at the Kokomo Farmers Market. The company recently began selling its products at the Zionsville Farmers Market, and that too has been a success.

"The community support is overwhelming," McCain said. "Business is booming. We have a lot of repeat customers. ... We're not out to get customers. We want raving fans."

For Wilson, who mans the business' Kokomo Farmers Market stand, interacting with customers, whether new or repeat, has been the most rewarding aspect of this new venture.

"I enjoy it because I see people I know and the regulars," Wilson said. "That's one rewarding thing because we always sold livestock to packers, load them in a truck, and they're gone, and they send you a check, and that's it. But here we get feedback, meet friends, and they like our meat and what we're doing. That's a good part of this."

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.