By Amanda Brodhagen
After a devastating fire last year, Green’s Meat Market in Wingham has been rebuilt. On June 24, 2020 a fire destroyed their processing facility, and forced the family business to relocate their retail offerings to Lucknow while they rebuilt. This year marks 50 years in business with the next generation taking over the reins with the sudden passing of John Green last fall.
Spokesperson Shaelin Green, the granddaughter of founders John and Arlene Green, says the series of events since the fire has made their family and team of employees stronger. “Shelby and I specifically have learned many new skills from the rebuilding phase and are now learning more and more about the business through reopening,” said Green. The granddaughters, Shaelin and Shelby have been instrumental in seeing the build through from start to finish and their brother Spencer has rekindled his interest in the family business and has helped through all the phases as well.
Opening the doors happened gradually, said Shaelin. On April 27, 2021 they had their test kill with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs inspection where they processed two beef and a lamb in order to have their license reinstated. They passed the test kill, but the plant needed a bit more work before they could officially begin operations again. “On May 11 we had our first official beef kill where we slaughtered 12 beef for our local producers,” she said. “This was a very special day for us as it was exactly 50 years to the day that our grandpa had his first ever kill operating as Green’s Meat Market in 1971.”
The next day, OMAFRA meat inspection signed off on the rest of the building making Green’s Meat Market fully operational again. The family and staff worked in the plant while keeping the retail store closed so they could get used to the new building, train new staff and ramp up production. There was a delay with the arrival of their fresh meat counters so the family pivoted to curbside pickup in June. Once the meat counters arrived, the doors were fully opened to steady flow of customers once again. “Seeing how pleased everyone is with the new building has made us incredibly proud of all the hard work,” she said.
The grand opening was held on July 10 where the family held a community BBQ featuring their well-loved products and some sale specials that were exclusive to the event. “We are happy we chose to go with the more of a soft reopening route as it has helped us work through many of the kinks,” she said. “We are definitely most proud of the new cutting room and our new smokehouse.” The expanded space has allowed the business to set up equipment and a floor of the cutting room which is more efficient. One new feature that has received a lot of compliments from customers is looking through the glass window behind the meat counter where you can see the cutting room. Other benefits include the smokehouse. “The smokehouse has been running very efficiently and the product has been turning out amazing. Our further processing manager Jonathan has enjoyed the quicker smoking times and the beautiful colouring and flavour the new smokehouse is producing,” she said.
The good news for area farmers looking for a place to send their animals to get processed is that Green’s Meat Market still has some availability for 2021. Shaelin warns that the spots are filling up quickly and they’ve already started accepting bookings for 2021.
“One of our obstacles at the moment is finding more meat cutters and butchers. Once we have more meat cutters and butchers hired and trained we would be able to increase our capacity for 2021 and 2022 even more!” she said.
Shaelin says staffing has been one of the most stressful, yet rewarding, aspects of the reopening. “It has been very rewarding for us though to start at the beginning of the process and now seeing our new employees thriving in their new roles,” she said. “We are incredibly grateful for their resilience and willingness to work through the kinks of reopening with us.”
The response to the reopening has been positive, but it’s also made it nearly impossible for the Greens to keep their existing products on the shelves and fully stocked in their Lucknow retail store. In the future, they hope to expand their product range, which might include making cold cuts in addition to their famous summer sausage.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our community and local producers who have allowed our family’s business to grow over the last 50 years, and who are the ultimate reason for our decision to rebuild,” she said. ◊