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Consumers meet North Dakota lamb in 2019

Esmond producer introduces North Dakotans to taste of lamb

Submitted photo Adam Mawby explains the management of his Katahdin flock to participants in the Farm To Table Dinner.

ESMOND – More than 400 North Dakotans were introduced to local lamb and lamb products this summer through a project by gardendwellers RANCH of Esmond.

With grant assistance from the American Lamb Board, the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association, Adam Mawby, owner of gardendwellers RANCH, hit the markets with recipes, tasting guides, hats, cutting boards and even ground lamb to give away at 11 different events across the northern and central portion of the state.

The goal of the project was to introduce consumers to the taste and benefits of lamb while promoting the ranchers and farmers who raise lamb for meat. Grant funds were used to pay for giveaway items such as shirts, hats and shopping bags and to purchase and process ground lamb to give consumers in an effort to increase the popularity and sale of lamb meat. Consumers were also well armed with recipe books produced by the American Lamb Board.

Mawby, who raises Katahdin lambs for meat sales, networked with other lamb producers and provided potential consumers with contact information for producers in their area. He attended farmers markets at Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Rugby and Minot to meet face-to-face with potential consumers and explain the benefits of locally-raised lamb. He also held an open house at his ranch location near Esmond, attended the Capital Farmers Market in Bismarck and was the featured producer at a Farm To Table Dinner with over 50 people in attendance. The dinner featured lamb pate’ as an appetizer and a main course starring lamb meatballs.

“Lamb is an excellent, but underused meat. It has many health benefits and fits into many special dietary needs. In my conversations with consumers I was surprised to find out that more people than I thought had tried lamb meat before. However, it was either years ago before newer meat breeds and management practices improved the flavors, or it had been improperly cooked,” Mawby said. “Consumers need to be given ideas and recipes that are easy to prepare, and they need to know how and where to purchase it. That’s why it was important for me to connect with other producers and be able to give out their contact information.”

Mawby estimated he connected with more than 400 people throughout the summer and at least 200 of them received ground lamb, lamb promotional products or tasted prepared lamb recipes from the American Lamb Board.

To gauge the response of consumers, Mawby gave postage-paid response cards with each pound of ground lamb. To date, 100% of the response cards returned rated the lamb as having excellent flavor and ease of cooking.