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Fresh meat in Harmony

Thu, Jan 26th, 2012
Posted in All Progress Edition

Michael and Vanessa Aggen, owners of Oak Meadow Meats.

Residents of Harmony have been watching the new building go up for months and have heard stories of the new business that is now open. Oak Meadow Meats is a new meat locker to serve the farmers of the area, as well as people who want their meat processed locally.

Michael Aggen grew up outside of Harmony on Oak Meadow Farms, and he worked at the meat lab at the University of Minnesota while in college. He was also a meat inspector for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for more than a year. He married Vanessa, who is from Byron, and they decided to move back to Michael's hometown.

"There's a need in the area for this type of place," said Vanessa Aggen. She added that her husband wanted to stay involved in the family farm where he grew up, and he knew that he wanted to work with meat.

There are other meat processing plants in the area, such as Willie's in Fountain and Busters in Ostrander. But there has not been a meat locker in Harmony for some time, and now people in Harmony won't have to drive very far for the services that are offered.

According to Aggen, the couple put two years of planning into the new building and business prior to the construction.

"It was good," says Aggen of the experience. "The more we got into it, the more we saw that it was going to happen."

Oak Meadow Meats, named after the Aggen family farm, began custom processing on November 1, just in time for deer hunting season. Aggen said a lot of people brought their deer in to be processed. Oak Meadow Meats also participated in Venison Donation. Oak Meadow Meats processed deer that people did not want to keep for food. They gave the meat to the food shelf at no charge.

"This way it wouldn't go to waste," said Aggen. "It's definitely something we are going to continue."

The couple went through months of getting building permits, planning the construction of the building, dealing with finances, and getting licenses for retail and custom processing. Through all of this Aggen said the community was very supportive and helpful.

"Everyone was really good to work with at the city" said Aggen. "It's really been a good experience."

Aggen works at the meat locker, along with her husband, two full-time employees, one three-quarters full time, and two part-time workers. When she is not working at the meat locker, she works for Lanesboro Local, a group that connects local farmers and artisans with consumers in the area.

Oak Meadow Meats not only custom processes animals that people hunt, they also process a lot of cattle for local farmers. The animals are brought in live and they do all the work from beginning to end. Aggen said they work with a lot of cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats.

The main goal that they are working on at Oak Meadow Meats right now is getting their retail up and running, which Aggen says will be very soon.

"The meat has to be state or federally inspected first before we can sell it to customers," explained Aggen. "We're really excited about it."

The meat counter at the front of the building will be filled with many different kinds of meats for customers. "We think it's very important to have a market for farmers, and people who want to buy locally," stated Aggen.

Aggen said they haven't done a lot of advertising yet, as they are waiting for a federal inspection to get the retail part of the business going, which is their big push and main goal for right now.

"It has been really fun," said Aggen. "Family and friends have always been helpful and willing to pitch in where need be."

The Aggens have been having fun meeting new people and getting started in their busy new adventure. They are excited about what the future holds for their business and the things they have to offer the people of Harmony.

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