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IATSE 114 Member Purchases Farmer Owned Butcher Shop

Andy O’Brien
26 Jan, 2023
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Stagehands (IATSE) Local 114 member Seren Sinisi and her husband Steve have become the new co-owners of a butcher shop to sell their local grass-fed beef and pastured pork from the couple’s Old Crow Ranch in Durham.

In August, the Sinisis, along with Aaron & Becky Buckley of the Leeds-based Buckley Farm, purchased the Farmer’s Gate Market in Wales with the goal of processing pasture-based whole animals sourced from their farms and other small Maine farmers. The previous owner of the butcher shop wanted to get out of the business so the two farms formed an LLC and purchased the shop.

What makes Farmers’ Gate unique is that we sell exclusively Maine-raised meat that is pasture-based so we’re very discerning about where we source our meat from,” said Seren Sinisi. “The farms are vetted, so we don’t just buy the carcasses from anywhere. There’s nothing coming in on a truck out of Canada. It’s exclusively Maine meat from farms we know and have relationships with.”

In addition to selling grass-fed beef and pastured pork, the shop sells chicken, lamb and even some specialty meats like duck, rabbit and turkey that are available depending on the season. Seren’s husband Steve bought what would become Old Crow Ranch in 2008 with support from the Land for Maine’s Future program and Royal River Conservation Trust. Old Crow Ranch is a designated “Forever Farm” and will remain farmland in perpetuity.

Sinisi says she was a “theater kid” who started working on stage shows with IATSE 114 in 2006 after graduating from the University of Southern Maine with a theater degree. After becoming a member in 2009, she says she knew she wanted to become a rigger — a stagehand who works on ropes, booms, lifts and hoists on stage shows — after she saw the “rigger rats” in action.

“I don’t have a lot of time these days to take union gigs, which is sad for me because I love them,” said Sinisi. “It’s something that I’m really good at and that I pride myself at doing, have a lot of fun with and enjoy the community.”

She says she hired IATSE 114 member Mark Vigue to work on one of her buildings while her rigging brother Tim Butt of TRB Electric has done some electrical work on the farm.

“There is a kind of cooperative network of good people in the union, which I love,” she added.

Meanwhile, Sinisi says Farmers Gate is in the process of building a brand new butcher facility in Leeds as the building in Wales is being sold. Farmers Gate products can also be purchased right off the farm in Durham as well as well from several Maine markets and restaurants.

Our tag line is 'Maine Meat on Maine Plates.’ The idea is to keep your dollars local,” she said. “When you purchase from us, you’re not just supporting Farmers Gate, you’re supporting the entire pipeline of businesses that we support, including our farm partners.”