Sanagan’s is proud to showcase meats, poultry, and artisanal charcuterie from amazing Ontario producers. Here is but a snapshot of some of the people we work with, and a bit about why we like what they do.
Learn More About the Farmers and Producers We Work With
Mike and Chris of Penokean Hills started their cattle business a few years ago, with a focus on breeding their own cattle to ensure they are raising healthy animals that consistently produce beef that is well marbled and tender. In addition, they have re-opened the local abattoir that services the local community, as well as contracting their beef program to neighbouring farms. This creates a controlled, closed network where they are able to do what they need to produce great beef, and fosters opportunities for the community. That’s a win for them, and as one of their biggest customers in Toronto, it’s a win for our customers as well.
They raise plump, tender chickens on a vegetable grain diet. Their birds are hatched on a Mennonite farm, vaccinated against diseases, then brought to the Appleton’s property to be raised in wide spaces in lofty barns. I really like them for two main reasons. The chickens are slaughtered on site, in a provincially inspected facility the family built on their property years ago. The lack of travel time greatly diminishes extra stress the birds would have travelling to a slaughter facility. King Capon also air-chills their chickens, which means that after they are processed the birds are cooled down naturally in a large refrigerated room. This promotes a nice dry skin, which gets extra crispy when roasted. Which is really what we all want.
Heather and Dan Goetz have been producing turkeys for Sanagan’s for the last few years now, and without question they are the most consistently delicious birds we have had the pleasure of offering our customers. The birds are drug free, grain fed, and raised in a large barn which transitions into the neighbourhood skating rink once the holidays are over. I shared a couple of drinks with Dan and Heather once at an Ontario Meat Conference (yes, that does exist), and we joked about how the sizes of birds is the hardest thing to nail down in the turkey business. Customers want certain sizes, but nature doesn’t always cooperate. Luckily for us, we have developed a very cooperative relationship with the Goetz’s.
I should rephrase that – I have known of the Forsyths since before I opened the shop. I first was introduced to Shane when I attended a Grey-Bruce Agricultural Meeting in the month leading up to opening our little store. Shane has a seriousness and dedication about him that is inspiring, and I knew I wanted them to be our lamb supplier. They raise predominately Dorset lambs – in Brenda’s words “we tend to stay away from animals raised for the show ring as those don’t necessarily reflect a good carcass”. The lambs are raised with their mothers and on a little pasture before being processed – they shoot for around a 50-pound carcass, which in our experience offers a delicious, and just meaty enough, lamb.
The first animal we got was during the winter from an amateur farmer, and we didn’t factor in how lean the steer was going to finish out at. It wasn’t as pleasant as it could have been. Enter James and Ian Sculthorpe, who with their South 50 Farm project have raised excellent and consistent beef on a carefully selected range of grasses, on pastures their family have owned for decades outside of Port Hope. Ian started raising beef when he was 14 years old, and his passion for it drove him to study Grass-Fed beef farming all over the world. The Sculthorpes will be the first to tell you – they aren’t beef farmers, they’re grass farmers. Well, we are certainly happy with the by-product of that grass farming!
They had contracted a group of farmers in primarily Grey County to raise beef without any antibiotics or growth hormones, or in order to sell most of it to an American natural beef distributer. The challenge they had was that they were left with many cuts the big guys didn’t want, especially the loin cuts. Well, after visiting some of the farms and seeing how they are raising beautiful Angus and Limousine beef, we were happy to work with the group, making sure every part of the animal had a home (in the bellies of Toronto’s most discerning meat shoppers). They are also great at forming relationships with Ontario farmers raising 100% grass fed beef, and even starting an all-Ontario Wagyu program. They want to be at the forefront of Ontario’s beef innovations, and we are happy to work with them as they grow into that role.
Heritage Chicken Eggs himself to the shop years ago. Since then, Murray has become our principal supplier of Heritage pork. Murray prides himself on only raising registered hogs, which means that you can trace the lineage of every chop that you get from his pigs. Many farmers raise Berkshire or Tamworth hogs, but few go that extra step to ensure the breed lines don’t get muddied along the way. Murray is a familiar face to many of Toronto’s farmer’s market shoppers, and he himself has grown to now own one of Hamilton’s premier butcher shops. His energy is infectious, and we are proud to partner with him as he grows.
at Walter’s Falls Inn, just outside of Owen Sound. West Grey Farms raises steers that are predominantly Black Angus, which are hardy animals, well suited to our Canadian climate. The animals are raised on pasture for most of their lives, before being finished with a steady amount of grain and corn to promote intramuscular fat, which leads to the delicious marbling we love so much here in North America. Their beef is well known throughout the Grey Bruce region, an area of Ontario that has been well recognized for producing some of the finest beef in the country.
pork after an enthusiastic recommendation from Jeremy, our good friend and owner of the Packing House. Jeremy has been a cook, a butcher, and a charcutier, and his passions led him to starting a company that sources excellent meat from great small farmers in the area. Jeremy supplies us with many of the game birds we sell at the shop, and his search for Hungarian Partridge led him to the door of Tanjo Family Farms in Millbank. They have been raising partridge, ducks, and hogs for years in an open barn environment. Their hogs are fed non-GMO feed, and they are raised on deep straw. Really nice animals from really nice people.
VG Meats has been raising cattle since the seventies in the Simcoe region, and their commitment to small herd, high-care beef is evident in the flavour and tenderness of the steaks and roasts. In fact, they have developed their own “Tenderness Tested” beef, a program they developed themselves that ensures a juicy steak, every time. Their farm has grown over the years to include a processing plant, where they make delicious all-beef hot dogs for us, as well as being able to process whole pigs raised down the way by their friends the Van Den Brook family. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting any of the brothers, you will be drawn in by their enthusiasm to their work, and their fierce commitment to quality.
Ontario Harvest will tell you, this man is all about the integrity of well raised meat. I’ve known Neil for years – he is an elk farmer first, but started Ontario Harvest when realizing the demand that chefs and butchers have for high quality, locally raised, game, beef, pork, and poultry. If you’ve eaten at any of the top restaurants in Toronto, chances are you’ve had meat that was sourced by this man. Neil was one of the first main suppliers of our little shop, and I’m happy to continue our relationship almost ten years later, and beyond.
raising lambs in Millgrove for years, since their son Trent (now fully involved in the family business) was a young lad. Working with small farms has its unique challenges. For example, I have a restaurant customer who needed a large quantity of lamb shanks. Trent and I worked together to get our customer the shanks that were available, then we guided the chef to start looking at different braising cuts like neck and side ribs, based on what the Hardwicks could supply. At Sanagan’s we only work with small operators, and if that means selling out of one cut, we see it as an opportunity to try something new. At the end of the day it’s better for the customer and better for the farmer, and we like it that way.
opened what I believe is one of Toronto’s best restaurants (I am biased though; I was married at the restaurant in what could be described as the best wedding of all time). Woodlot serves Canadian cuisine in a warm and inviting space, and it centers its menu around cooking in their hand-built wood burning oven. One of their most popular dishes is a whey fed pork chop, raised by Rory of Burkefield Farm. Rory left Toronto to produce heritage pork that has been eating whey from a local cheesemaker. This is a technique used in Italy for pigs used to produce prosciutto, and the creamy flavour of the whey can be tasted in the meat. We have been happily carrying these delicious chops since 2010.
to supply us with Muscovy ducks when our previous farmer closed their business (farming ain’t easy). We were lucky to meet Pete Drost and his family, who have been in the poultry business for decades. They started their duck farm in the Niagara region after realizing the demand for these birds, that are naturally fatty and delicious. We sell all of the parts, obviously, and their duck is also our choice for all of our in-house charcuterie products, from duck confit to smoked breast.
As mentioned, this is just a snapshot of some of the great people we choose to work with. If you want to know more about our other farmers or producers, please ask us!