Local producers give re-gifting new meaning, creating edible and inedible products using materials destined for the landfill.
Family-owned Enright Cattle Company in Tweed, Ont., is committed to sustainability. Even an old grain bin on the property is now a nifty retail location.
When it became increasingly difficult for the beef producers to sell cattle hides to keep them out of landfills as waste, owners Darold and Kara Enright decided to also go into the leather business.
Earlier this year, Barrett Hides, a Barrie-based leather processor closed. It left the majority of small and medium-sized abattoirs across Ontario struggling to get rid of a growing number of unwanted hides.
"This is one of the biggest challenges our abattoirs have faced in the last 40 years," says Franco Naccarato, executive director of the Ontario Independent Meat Processors.
"There are no real solutions out there other than burying them, disposal or composting them. Burying them is not a long term solution; disposal isn't a sustainable model and it is best if it can be avoided, and composting seems to be the best option, but resources are needed to help farmers and abattoirs get the hides to compost sites that can manage them," Naccarato explains.
For the Enrights, they found a solution in neighbouring Ottawa. The leather is locally tanned and James M. Brooks, an artisan based in Chelsea, Que., uses it to make a line of products from cuffs and wallets, purses and satchels to leather knife rolls and aprons. Prices start at $39.
"They're really high-quality items," Kara says.
The rendered tallow from processing is used to make rosemary- mint, lemongrass and lavender soaps, currently available online.
"People love the story behind it when they hear where the soap came from," Kara says. "It was raised right here, and it's sustainable."
Nothing goes to waste on the farm. They also sell soup bones, and the animal offal goes into gourmet dog food and treats.
The leather bags are available at three retailers in Ottawa, Kingston and Stirling, Ont., as well as online.