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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Frost Legacy Lives On in the Sand Hills of Nebraska

Frost Legacy Lives On in the Sand Hills of Nebraska:
Patch sits down with Fairfielder Prescott Frost, great-grandson of poet Robert Frost and founder of a grass-fed beef business
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – His hat may hang in Fairfield, but his spirit roams in Nebraska. The Sand Hills of Nebraska to be precise, or the “Napa Valley of grass-fed beef” as he refers to it, where his family owns a 6,000-acre ranch.

The family in this instance is the Frosts, as in Robert Frost (1874-1963), who by the 1920s was the most celebrated poet in America, renown for his portraits of life and the landscapes of New England. And the owner of the hat is Prescott Frost, his great-grandson, a Beach Road resident and owner of Prescott Frost Inc., a just-launched grass-fed beef business spurred by the 600-head cow/calf herd he maintains on the Nebraska spread.

Born Prescott Frost Wilber at Bridgeport Hospital in February 1958, the 53-year-old rancher grew up on Lalley Boulevard, the son of Elinor Frost and Malcolm G. Wilber. Elinor, 83, a Bridgeport resident, served 20 years in the Connecticut State Legislature. Prescott’s late father, Malcolm G. Wilber, was the Vice President of Connecticut National Bank in Bridgeport. Prescott has an older brother, Douglas, who’s 61 and a Seattle, WA, resident.

Prescott was a member of the first kindergarten class at Roger Sherman Elementary School on Fern Street, when it opened in 1963. Robert Frost died that same year (January 29, in Boston). As such, Prescott has few memories of him. “I remember sitting on his knee in the living room,” he said. “Grandma Lesley was really the authority on him, and carried all the information. Once a year, she would come and read his poems to us. It was generally an embarrassing moment, but in our family, the currency is not money, it’s knowledge.”

Prescott did not inherit the literary gene. “I know how to put a sentence together pretty well, but I am not disciplined to do it,” he said. “My latest stab at poetry was six haiku poems written for the catalog page of my business website.”

From Sherman School, Prescott advanced to Tomlinson Middle School, for 7th and 8th grade, then Roger Ludlowe High School for his freshman year. The balance of high school was spent at Putney School, a small private boarding school in Putney, Vermont. “My mother had gone there and used to take me up when she visited friends. I fell in love with it,” he said.

Construction became Prescott’s initial occupation. “I started working with my hands at Putney, helping build the art building,” he said. “When I graduated in 1976, I moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan and did residential construction, renovations, a lot of brownstones and walk-ups.”

College stints followed – two years at Northeastern University in Boston and two years at New York University, graduating in 1982 with a degree in Economics and a minor in Art History and History.

Prescott spent the next three years in Europe. “I worked outside Paris in fruit and vegetable markets hauling boxes, and I lived in Rome, working for a filmmaker, doing sound and loading cameras. I became fluent in French and Italian.”

In 1985, Prescott got married to an L.A. girl he knew from high school, moved to L.A. and went to work as a stockbroker for Shearson-Lehman in Beverly Hills. He did that for 10 years before quitting, in 1995, to move to Illinois to manage a family farming operation. Prescott’s other great-grandfather, Union Colonel Dudley C. Smith, was deeded the land in lieu of payment for his service during the Civil War. “The soil was black and eight feet deep,” he said.

Unfortunately, his stay lasted only a month. “I got into a conflict with my uncles about sustainable farming,” he said.

Prescott went back to L.A. and ran his own decorative painting business for eight years, until 2003. While there, he convinced family to convert the Illinois farm land to organic and ultimately moved back to oversee the transition, staying on for six years. He introduced livestock to eat the grass and fertilize the land and got taken with the grass-fed beef bug. It inspired him to sell the Illinois farm to buy the ranch in Nebraska in June 2009 and set up shop there.

Frost described a different world in Nebraska from the one we know in Fairfield. “People wave to each other as they pass,” he said. “They’re close to the earth, live with nature, live rugged lives. They don’t get people in cities. But people in cities buy the beef. I’m trying to bridge these two worlds.”

Frost’s partner is rancher Rick Calvo, who lives on the ranch with his wife and two kids. “He’s one of the best guys in the country to do what he does… steeped in the cattle industry… known as the guru of grass-fed genetics.”

The cattle are Red Angus and Murray Grey breeds, which are fattened on the ranch then processed at a USDA fully-licensed facility in Madison, Wisconsin. Frost’s model is direct-to-consumer, eliminating the middle man, using the Internet, avoiding brick-and-mortar and wholesalers, etc. “You get meat direct from the ranch, flash-frozen, meat you deserve. The meat is just fantastic,” he said. “It’s tender, flavorful, not gamey. It overcomes all the problems people have had with beef over the years.”

Expanding on his mission, Frost said, “My goal is to change agriculture one acre and one cow at a time. Every acre that goes from corn production back to grass is a step in the right direction. I’m raising solar beef using the power of the sun, soil and rain. Theirs is petro beef based on tractors, chemicals/herbicides and fertilizers.”

Frost acknowledges that buying local is really great, but when it comes to beef, land near metro areas isn’t compatible. “To properly raise organic cattle, you need to go to the great grass growing regions of the world – whether it’s the pompous of Argentina or Sand Hills of Nebraska. For us in the U.S., it’s the latter. I’m not interested in feeding your fancy friends with a cut of beef. I’m interested in feeding your family affordable delicious beef.”

Benefits of grass-fed beef *
·      Has 10 times more beta-carotene than feedlot beef, which is important for stimulating the immune system and maintaining healthy vision, skin and bones
·      Contains three times more vitamin E than feedlot beef, which helps prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease
·      Contains three times more Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy brain function
·      Contains three times more conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fat that can reduce “bad” cholesterol and prevent arthritis
·      No hormones, antibiotics or chemicals are employed
·      Protein source is legumes, clover and alfalfa
·      Starch is derived from grasses
·      Cattle’s medicinal needs are met by grazing on beneficial plants and herbs
·      Soil is improved through natural fertilization, mimicking bison
·      The composition of a cow is not altered as with corn-fed cattle that have imbalances
·      Animals spend entire lives on pasture as God intended   

* Information provided by Prescott Frost Inc. and its public relations firm Organic Works.

For more information about Prescott Frost and his grass-fed beef business, visit

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