Here at “Borderstan People,” we like to profile local movers and shakers who are spicing up the neighborhood in a variety of ways. Recently, we caught up with Jessica Zetzman, general manager at Border Springs Farm’s new spot at Union Market.
Luckily for us, we had a chance to catch up with Zetzman in between her busy hours at Union Market to discuss her interesting foodie job and the details of her day-to-day life!
Borderstan: Can you tell us a little bit about Border Springs Farm? What is Border Springs Farm and what products does it offer at Union Market?
Zetzman: Border Springs Farm is a sheep farm in Patrick Springs, Virginia. All of our products are all natural, grass fed, pasture raised and animal welfare approved. Border Springs Farm is really a passion project of Craig Rogers, the owner and Shepherd, who is committed to all-natural farming, animal husbandry and advocacy surrounding small farmers. He’s been in the business for 10 years, selling directly to chefs and working with them to refine his lamb and ensure only the best and most flavorful product.
Borderstan: When did Border Springs Farm move to Union Market? Did it have a previous location?
Zetzman: Up until this shop at Union Market, Border Springs Farm only had a presence in DC through the chefs that we sold to. The shop at Union Market is our first shop where we are making our raw products available to the public. We are also providing cooked options for people to eat in the market and our menu is always growing and changing. Be sure to stop by for our lamb sausage sandwich, ever popular all-lamb gyro and our great lamb pot-pies.
Borderstan: Did Border Springs Farm have any other retail location prior to its Union Market booth?
Zetzman: Up until this point, Border Springs Farm has only sold directly to chefs and in one small farmers market near the farm. We are excited to have an outlet to bring our lamb to a wider audience.
Borderstan: What are customers liking most so far about Border Springs Farm?
Zetzman: People at the market are loving our lamb sausage. We offer seven flavors of all-lamb sausage (Simple Sausage, Mediterranean, Rosemary, Merguez, Chorizo, Loukaniko and a lamb Frankfurter). They are delicious, and many people appreciate that they have finally found a great alternative to pork sausages! I’ve heard many people express their excitement over finding a purveyor of fresh and high-end lamb products. I think it’s certainly a favorite of people, but lamb is so hard to find in the city, and certainly lamb of such quality. I’ve heard several people say that they have had bad experiences in the past with lamb, but that after tasting the lamb from Border Springs, they can really taste the difference. I think a lot of people in the past have been fooled by mutton or commercially produced lamb that lacks the same complexity and flavor of farm-fresh lamb.
Borderstan: Tell us a little bit about how you got to Border Springs Farm? When did you hear about the business? What made you decide to quit your previous job to join the team? And where do you see the company headed in the future?
Zetzman: I was actually a vegetarian for 10 years before I recently (within the past two years) started eating local, all natural and sustainable farm raised or wild meat. My reason for being a vegetarian for so many years was because I didn’t agree with the large scale agricultural processes that produced almost all of the meat we see today in super markets. When I moved to DC I started to meet farmers that were raising animals and doing things in a way that I agreed with, and I decided to start eating meat from these sources in order to show my support as opposed to just abstaining entirely. I met Craig by accident when Union Market first opened and I was volunteering at the DC Scoops event.
He was there for the opening and was short staffed, so I helped him out instead of working at the ice cream competition outside. The rest, as they say, was history. I started working for him on the weekends at the market while still doing my full time job, but the more I got to know him and learn about his passion for changing the norms of our food system, the more intrigued I became. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I guess you could say that it is in my blood, but when Craig approached me about helping him start up and run the shop, I decided it was time to make a jump and become part of the small but growing all-natural lamb industry.
Borderstan: Any special events/promotions coming up soon?
Zetzman: We actually just had a couple of great events for the grand opening weekend at Union Market. We held, in conjunction with the American Lamb Board, a Blogger Burger Bash where four area food bloggers (including two Borderstan contributors, Kim Vu of DCWrappedDates and Leatitia of French Twist) received three pounds of ground Border Springs lamb and $20 to shop in the market to create their best lamb burger. The grand prize was awarded by five celebrity judges including: Chef John Critchley, Chef Nick Stefanelli, Chef Dylan Fultineer, Nycci Nellis and David Nellis. Several Union Market patrons gave a people’s choice award to Borderstan contributer Leatitia Brock.
Border Springs Farms is open Monday to Friday, 11 am to 8 pm, Saturday 8 am to 8 pm and Sunday 8 am to 5 pm.