Roller Coaster Farm: Working for our family, our land, our animals, and our eaters.
Our mission at Roller Coaster Farm is to operate our family farm to optimize the health and well-being of our family, our land, our animals, and our eaters. We recognize the delicate balance of all these interconnected elements in the complex organic ecosystem that is Roller Coaster Farm. Our holistic approach produces premium quality, delicious, and healthy pork, beef and lamb.
We are Bob Bernardoni, Charlotte Doherty, and family. We bought our farm on Roller Coaster Road in 1981 and raised our four kids here in the wonderful, rural community of Darlington, Wisconsin. Although our kids are grown, we are fortunate to continue to enjoy the help of three of them, Silas, Nella, and Eamon. Each of them lends his or her particular professional skill set to improving the operation of the farm. Our family’s collective education, knowledge, and experience creates a collaborative atmosphere where every detail of our operation is examined, discussed, and factored into our truly holistic management system.
Roller Coaster Farm is located in the beautiful rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. The farm consists of 390 acres, the majority of which is devoted to growing multi-species forage which we use for both rotational grazing and hay, with the rest reserved for woodland and restored prairie to support native plants and wildlife.
We are firmly committed to a holistic approach that includes the utilization of Heritage breeds of animals for multi-species, managed rotational grazing on diverse pastures of grasses, legumes, and native plants. Each species of animal and plant has a niche in our holistic management plan, including many animals and plants that are not sold to our eaters but are required to balance out the managed ecosystem of our farm.
We view our farm as a multi-generational commitment and are careful we maintain its integrity and productivity for many generations to come. Our multi-generational perspective allows us to do things right and not cut corners to try to make a quick buck. We have invested decades in improving the soil and water quality and developing the infrastructure that allows us to efficiently care for our animals. Over the years we have collected a range of animals that we have developed into some of the premier production genetics of their respective species and breeds.
All of Roller Coaster Farm’s animals are bred, born, raised, and finished on our farm. They eat a diverse diet of local and seasonal feed we grow ourselves. Our hardy Kathadin sheep and Highland cattle live outdoors year round and are moved to new pastures every 1-3 days during the grazing season. Our Tamworth pigs are never subjected to confined farrowing or feeding methods and while they always have access to shelter, they chose to spend most of their time outside. Humane treatment of our animals and utilizing natural farming methods are of paramount importance to us. We vaccinate our animals but never use sub-therapeutic antibiotics or growth hormones. Many farms use blanket de-worming agents but we are able to avoid their use by breeding parasite resistant animals and practicing rotational grazing.
Harvesting our finished animals is carefully planned to minimize stress, which respects the dignity of the animal and maintains the high quality of the meat. Our animals are slaughtered three miles down the road at Avon Locker Plant, a state inspected, fourth generation slaughter house and butcher shop.
At Roller Coaster Farm, all of our animals are listed as Heritage breeds by the Livestock Conservancy. Heritage breeds are the traditional, old-fashioned breeds raised by past generations of farmers before the advent of specialized, industrialized agriculture. Our breeds are chosen because of each breed’s characteristics that allow them to flourish in our farm’s unique ecosystem that utilizes sustainable farming methods. Our animals live and behave naturally and maintain the ability to thrive outdoors year round in a pasture-based system.
They breed, birth, and raise their young self-sufficiently and are much more resistant to diseases and parasites. Heritage breeds are slower growing but their meat is more flavorful.
Sadly, many of these attributes are not valued in modern agriculture, which threatens the continuing existence of these historic breeds. We believe strongly in breed stewardship and are active in many national organizations and breeding programs to preserve and improve heritage breeds of many kinds of animals including our cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry.
By raising and marketing heritage meat to our eaters, we can help ensure the survival of this wealth of genetic resources so important to the future of agriculture and humanity’s food supply.
Roller Coaster Farm is committed to producing food for engaged eaters who appreciate our animals for the individuals they are and the extraordinary care that we have taken to raise them. By selling whole and half animals rather than individual cuts of meat, we encourage people to be nose to tail consumers. Engaged eaters are important to supporting local, sustainable agriculture and we like to work and eat with people and companies that share our values.
We sell a large portion of our meat to Underground Food Collective in Madison, Wisconsin, where they use it in their restaurants, butcher shop, catering, and charcuterie businesses.
Roller Coaster Farm meat can be found every week in the meat case at Underground Butcher and is often on the menu at some of Madison’s top restaurants such as Forequarter and Sardine.
In addition to selling to the top chefs in the area, we enjoy selling to engaged eaters through direct market sales of pork, lamb, and beef. All of our animals are slaughtered at Avon Locker plant, where the butchers will dry age the grass-fed beef for 14 to 21 days. Eaters have several options for cutting and processing our meat, including Avon in Darlington and Underground Food Collective in Madison, WI. Some of our customers pick up the halves and process their own meat!