Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club piloted a program that teamed Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Inc. (SMR) and LRG&CC with two Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from the local high school’s agricultural land laboratory.
Raising cattle isn’t just for ranchers anymore.
Take Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club (LRG&CC), a private club near Bradenton on the west coast of Florida. Last year Executive Chef Paul Evans, General Manager Wayne Piazza and the LRG&CC culinary team decided to get in touch with the “roots” of the ranch by piloting a program that teamed Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Inc. (SMR) and LRG&CC with two Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from the local high school’s agricultural land laboratory.
Granted, the team had a few elements working in its favor. “In addition to being a planned residential and business community, Lakewood Ranch is also a working cattle ranch,” explains Piazza. Meanwhile, SMR has the reputation for breeding high-quality Black Angus and Charolais beef.
After Evans and Piazza explained their plan to deliver a more sustainable beef product to the club’s membership, SMR donated two calves to the two students in the FFA program, who were then charged with raising the cows to “show” level.
Over six months, the students—Libby Spence and Danielle Walker—cared for the steers until they reached a marketable age, tacking on almost a thousand pounds to their total weight. (They had some other “educational” experiences, too: One morning, Spence had to chase her calf down Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and through a car wash, after he got loose and decided to check out other parts of the local landscape.)
Turns out, affording these cows the best of the best during their rise to maturity paid off. “One of them won best of class,” reports Piazza.
After the show, the mature cattle were purchased by Evans at auction and sent to a local processing plant. After it has been aged properly, the beef will be featured in an upcoming Ranch-to-Table dinner at the club.
“Much of the meat sold commercially may have been raised under conditions that are not well-controlled,” Evans notes. “Using SMR beef from animals born and bred on the Ranch and cared for in a proper, controlled manner means that the beef we serve to our members is truly first-rate.”
“We might be the only country club in the country that now has the ability to raise and serve its own Black Angus and Charolais prime beef to its members,” adds Piazza.