Becca Harvey ’16 making fresh sausage.Becca Harvey ’16 making fresh sausage. Credit: Ella Samuel ’16

An interest in sustainable food has continuously driven Becca Harvey’s studies at COA.

Soon after arriving at the Bar Harbor campus, she got involved with a student project conducted by Stevie DuFresne ’15, which included two chicken-slaughtering workshops at COA’s Beech Hill Farm and nearby Mandala Farm. She later attended a pig-butchering workshop at the farm led by Sarah Tomkins and slaughter group “A Kinder Kill,” which inspired her to delve further into sustainable meat production.

Harvey’s passion took her across the globe to a butcher shop located on a biodynamic farm in Hamburg, Germany, where she learned traditional butchering techniques over a four-month period. Her butchering internship in Germany interwove her fascination with language, culture, food, animal husbandry, and travel, and inspired her senior project, “Charcuterie: Meat Preservation and Fermentation.”

Becca Harvey ’16 poses with one of the pigs she raised at Peggy Rockefeller Farm.Becca Harvey ’16 poses with one of the pigs she raised at Peggy Rockefeller Farm. Credit: Gracie Mitchell ’18

The project includes a thorough analysis and exploration of each process involved in producing sustainable pork, from the initial steps of raising heritage-breed pigs at COA’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms, to the subsequent slaughtering and butchering of these pigs, and finally to the processing and curing of the meat.

“I am challenging myself to learn how to do everything with my own hands,” she says.

Becca Harvey ’16 explains butchering techniques to friends at her workshop.Becca Harvey ’16 explains butchering techniques to friends at her workshop. Credit: Ella Samuel ’16

As part of her project, Harvey led a series of workshops and shared her knowledge pertaining to butchering and the art of charcuterie. Harvey refers to her workshops as “shared learning experiences” that represent opportunities for the community to grow together.

Harvey is exploring European preservation techniques that include salting, brining, pickling, dry curing, and smoking. The project, she says, “feeds my desire for creativity because the process is such an art.”

Becca Harvey ’16 removing rib meet during her butchering workshop.Becca Harvey ’16 removing rib meet during her butchering workshop. Credit: Ella Samuel ’16

She will transform the meat based on cultural traditions that she has experienced and studied.

“Since pigs are the most widely consumed livestock in the world, there are a huge variety of approaches to preserving pork,” she says, explaining that preservation techniques vary widely based on the places from which they stem—culture, environment, and climate give rise to a myriad of traditions.

Harvey is fascinated by Spanish charcuterie; her first pig, Viburnum, was processed in a way that adheres to traditional Spanish practices. She will lead additional workshops later this spring when she slaughters her second pig, Moose. These later workshops will focus on traditional charcuterie practices from Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Poland.

Pig belly is prepared for curing.Pig belly is prepared for curing. Credit: Ella Samuel ’16

“The whole process has made me appreciate my food more; I know what kind of work, emotional input, and sacrifice goes into sustainable food,” Harvey says.

The project, and her years of cultural food study at COA, have left Harvey with a goal to work towards upon graduation.

“I want to provide sustainable food to the people in my life and my community in the future,” she says.