Alta Vista Bison Farm has sadly closed. If you would like to visit a bison farm in New England and purchase fresh bison meat, consider a visit to Mohawk Bison in Goshen, Connecticut.
This is my story about Alta Vista Bison Farm, written following my 2001 visit, and preserved here for those who would like to remember the farm, which is now a private residence. See below for more Rutland-area attractions in central Massachusetts.
It's the other red meat... Bison is lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein than beef, pork or chicken. And, at Alta Vista Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts, you can not only shop for buffalo roasts, ribs, steaks, burgers and, believe it or not, hotdogs, you can view these once nearly extinct beasts up close.
Commonly called buffalo but more accurately referred to as American Bison, these creatures once numbered in the millions but were killed off in great numbers during America's westward expansion as they were hunted for their hides and even for sport. By 1890, less than 1,000 bison remained.
The bison population in the U.S. has made a remarkable comeback, though, largely because of the efforts of ranchers and farmers--including some here in New England.
Alta Vista Farm began its transition from a dairy farm to a bison farm in the late 1960s. Eventually, the Mann family, which has owned the historic 1724 farm since 1951, sold its beef herd to focus solely on bison.
Their retail shop began making a variety of bison meat cuts and Native American and bison gifts available to the public in 1994. Call ahead, 508-886-4365, to inquire about the availability of hayrides out to see the herd for your family or group. The grazing giants can also be viewed from the road.
Even better, visit the farm during the Bison Days weekend festival held annually in September. Not only does the festival feature tractor-drawn hayrides that take you out into the midst of the bison herd (would you believe that a loaf of white bread is the magical "bait" that makes the buffalo gather 'round?), it also offers a chance to sample buffalo burgers and hotdogs, to learn about Native American culture and to shop for traditional crafts.
Don't be shy to try bison meat. Pick up the free cooking tips and recipes leaflets at the farm, and you'll have all of the inspiration you need to sample this healthy, lean beef alternative.
If you are going... Alta Vista Farm is located in Rutland, Massachusetts, the town that is at the geographic center of the state. It's about an hour's drive west of Boston. From Rutland Center, follow Route 56 South toward Paxton for one mile. Turn left on Prescott Street, which becomes Hillside Road. You will see Alta Vista Farm approximately two miles in on the right.
Alta Vista Farm Address: 80 Hillside Road, Rutland, Massachusetts 01543
If you are planning a visit to Alta Vista Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts, to see the bison herd and shop for buffalo meat, here are a few nearby lodging options:
General Rufus Putnam House
344 Main Street, Rutland, 508-886-0200
Hartman's Herb Farm Bed & Breakfast
1026 Old Dana Road, Barre, 978-355-2015
Jenkins Inn & Restaurant
7 West Street, Barre, 978-355-6444
100 Pleasant Street, Barre, 978-355-6543