Who Knew Elk Were So Varsatile?
Ask Christine Harrison of Shooting Star Ranch about raising elk and she’ll tell you the most amazing stories. “Unlike a horse, if an elk injures its leg, all it needs is nourishment and time to heal.” She and her husband Barry have been raising elk since 1998 and bring this unique product to the City Market. “And don’t look them in the eye when they’re down — they’ll take it as an act of aggression,” she asserts. As a first generation farm, they had a lot to learn but the admiration and fascination they held for elk made it fulfilling and interesting.
What kinds of products do you sell?
We sell all kinds of elk products, such as elk antler capsules, elk antler products for dogs and horses, elk antler crafts like clocks, belt buckles and tea light holders. The capsules are popularly used to help alleviate arthritis pain. They are also used to help with joint and tissue damage, and to help increase energy. We also sell a huge variety of meat cuts and meat products like jerky, Italian sausage, garlic sausage, pepperoni, and bratwurst.
What made you decide to start selling elk products?
We saw a niche market that was interested in a healthy red meat and the benefits of elk antler. We liked the ability to talk
directly to the customers and inform them about our products.
I would have to say the elk steaks, but my most favourite is the jalapeño cheese smokie.
Do you have a no-fail recipe you can share?
The best recipe and the most simple is steak: season lightly, sear both sides, cook for two minutes on each side and most
importantly let rest off the heat for two minutes. Have your salad and potatoes ready. At the market I have three easy recipes available that I love to give customers – Ginger Elk, Hawaiian Chilli and Elk Stroganoff.
Tell us about your farm.
We started our farm in 1998. We are a first generation farm, which means we had a lot to learn. We have 80 acres and are located 20 minutes South of Sherwood Park. We, and the elk, enjoy nice pastures and an abundance of spruce, willow and poplar trees. Barry works off the farm while Christine manages the day to day chores. Elk are a very easy animal to raise. They are not only beautiful but very interesting to be around. Kind of like children. I have many stories I could go on and on about.
Do you provide samples at the City Market Downtown?
Of course. Mostly we sample our smoked products such as garlic sausage or pepperoni.
Why do you like selling at the City Market Downtown?
Lots of reasons! I love being outside. The customers here a great! They have a lot of interesting and thoughtful questions. They truly want to know where there food comes from and how it is raised. It is also interesting to see how other businesses are run and I get to learn more. There are a lot of wonderful products at the market that you can’t readily find anywhere else. So when I get away from my stall I go shopping.
What is the one thing that people typically don’t know about elk?
A lot of people still think that our meat is wild, which of course it is not. Also they think that we only raise the animals
for meat, but our primary focus is on growing antler, making elk antler capsules and providing breeding stock.
Do you have a memorable, unique or funny story about selling at the City Market Downtown?
I have the best memory ever. On the first day I started the market in the winter at City Hall, I was standing with my “stuff” not sure where to go. Up charged a blue eyed white haired fellow with a big grin who grabbed both my tables and
said “follow me, we will find your spot”. Wow! Smiley and chivalrous, and I must say, fast. That was my introduction to the City Market, Kevin Fox. We sure do miss him.
On which days will you be at the City Market Downtown on 104th Street? Will you be at the market when it moves to City Hall in the fall?
I will be at the market most of the days with the exception of August 11, 18 and 25. I will be inside City Hall again this fall