Article originally published in A Taste of AZ Magazine
Modern day farmers and cattle ranchers face multiple obstacles related to urban sprawl. That includes balancing the need to feed a growing population while supporting sound land stewardship principles and respecting the environment. Justin and Alicia Perry of Perry Land & Cattle have developed a type of farming operation that meets these goals of responsible land management and preserving the ecology of the Sonoran Desert. Perry Land & Cattle is an innovative, modern-day cattle operation, committed to providing high quality, sustainable beef to the consumer through its online store and on the menu of select Valley restaurants.
Alicia, a professor of Global Studies at ASU, is a former US Air Force officer and Treasury Department analyst who moved west to Arizona from DC to explore new opportunities and to “meet a cowboy.” As luck would have it, within a year of the move, she was introduced to Justin Perry, a Gilbert native whose family has been farming the Valley for five generations. Together they have merged their talents and passions to create a wholly integrated farming and ranching system. This “loop system” involves the collection of green waste, biodegradable waste such as tree trimmings and shrubs, and breaking it down to mulch to plant crops used as feed in their cattle operation.
Justin runs the composting end of the operation, called CTS Green Waste Recycling. CTS accepts all types of green waste and breaks it down to mulch, creating sustainable soil amendment for commercial farming. This mulch improves crop yield, reduces landfill waste, and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers. Another benefit is the process creates a valuable carbon offset while improving the structure of the soil and water retention.
Justin explains, “It (the green waste) is organic, and there has got to be something we can do with it other than put it in the landfill… If we can actually use this on a farm, and find a way to collect a tipping fee that helps us process material, keep it affordable, and get it on a field for compost, then that makes sense.” Alicia adds, “With this (farming practice), we can start meeting some of the things being asked of us: the sustainability and the decreased carbon footprint, without having to fundamentally disrupt the way we produce food.” As farmers face more pressure to feed a growing population with dwindling margins and resources, sustainable farming practices become increasingly essential for the future of agriculture.
The sister company to CTS is Perry Land & Cattle, a cattle operation whose feed comes from the family farm land that uses CTS soil amendment. Perry Land & Cattle hand-selects their cattle off local desert ranches. “We don’t look for a certain breed, but how they are raised and what they are fed… we really focus on the quality.
If we are going to do this, we are going to do it right. It is going to be sustainable, it is going to be hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and we are going to have a system of protocols.” The cattle are prepared for market using a controlled feeding program, gently increasing the weight and quality of each animal, and harvesting only when conditions are optimal. Every step from start to finish places animal health and beef quality first and foremost.
In addition to the cattle feed from their soil amendment operation, the cattle are fed a liquid by-product of the beer brewing process, called wort, provided by Four Peaks Brewery. The wort provides nutritional value for the cattle feed, as well as adding a unique flavor profile to the beef. “They were dumping (the wort), and we wanted to recapture this quality nutrition that cows need.” Alicia jokingly added, “We just look at all the things that people throw away and think, ‘What can we do with that?’”
Four Peaks then purchases Perry Land beef to use in a specialty burger, aptly named the Drunken Cow Burger. Found at the Four Peaks Brewery on 8th Street in Tempe, the Drunken Cow Burger features Perry Land ground beef served on a brioche bun with smoked bacon aioli, American cheese, beer-braised onions, lettuce and tomato.
Perry Land & Cattle beef can also be found in some of the Valley’s finest restaurants, like Tarbell’s and FnB. Chef Mark Tarbell says the Perry Land & Cattle Ribeye is the best selling steak on their menu. “The steak is a really superior quality from a thoughtful and intentional Arizona rancher. What we add to this are four sauces to create a dynamic experience, and we also trim it to the center of the center, the eye of the ribeye. We are constantly adding fun seasonal sides like house-made Parmesan gnocchi and organic, local mushrooms.” The ribeye is featured on the menu at Tarbell’s when supply is available.
In addition to selling to a few Valley restaurants, Perry Land & Cattle beef can be purchased on their website and available for either delivery or pick up at the Farm Store at Agritopia in Gilbert. All beef is dry aged at a minimum of 21 days, and individual cuts of meat up to whole sides of beef are available for purchase. If you are lucky, you may even get one of Alicia’s family recipes for rubs. Local, sustainable, and mouth-wateringly delicious, Perry Land & Cattle is making a mark on the Valley scene contributing to a new level of quality for beef.
Article and Photos by Marci Symington
Love your writing…
Comments are closed.