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Table Hoppin’: BBQ goes hog wild at Davis Farmland

Thursday,  May 11, 2017

Posted at 6:00 AM

By Barbara M. Houle

Davis Farmland in Sterling is a well-known family destination, promoted as the Ultimate Children’s Discovery Farm. It’s mind-boggling when you read about all the activities and events you can pack into a fun-filled day spent there.

Of course, there’s variety in food (pizza, burgers, hot dogs, mac & cheese) sold at different venues on the property.

And then there’s the Kansas City-style barbecue – smoked pulled pork, smoked turkey, chicken wings, turkey legs, etc. Amazing!

Josh Freda of Leominster is the “pitmaster” in charge of firing up the smoker (Betsey) on the property. He also is food and beverage manager, overlooking all the food venues, including the Herd Rock Café, which accommodates 125 guests.

When the owners of Davis Farmland decided to expand the menu to include barbecue, they brought in a restaurant service company in Kansas City to oversee their food service.

Freda was sent to Kansas City to work with company owner, chef and pitmaster Paully (Paul) Clinton and his team.

Clinton, who visits Davis Farmland about four times a year, has more than 30 years of experience as a chef and restaurateur and has competed in barbecue competitions nationwide. He has cooked with noted chef Wolfgang Puck and has served barbecue to President Bill Clinton when he was on the campaign trail, according to Nicki Sacco of Davis Farmland. “Davis Farmland is delighted that the chef has taken us under his wing,” she said.

Freda said he felt like a member of “chef Paully’s” family when he visited him. “He is a real pro when it comes to barbecue,” said Freda. “He and his team are very passionate about what they do, and they produce a quality product and won’t settle for run-of-the-mill. In Kansas City, you quickly learn that they’re all about smoky, saucy, fall-off-the-bone barbecue.”

Clinton’s recipe for award-winning burnt ends and sauces are a big hit at the farm, according to Freda, who said heaping plates of the cubed meat are served with sauce on the side. “Customers can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. They’re really disappointed if we run out. We usually do,” he said.

Larry Davis, who with his father, John, and his brother, Doug, own Davis Farmland, said customers regularly email comments about their day at the farm. “The word ‘yummy’ usually is stretched out on several lines when they mention how much they loved the burnt ends,” he said. “We really enjoy reading what our customers have to say.” Note: Larry Davis is the “food taste tester” at the farm.

Freda explained that burnt ends are the smaller bits from the point end of a brisket. In texture, they’re a bit like meatier rib tips, but without the crunch of cartilage. Because of the higher fat content of the brisket point, it takes longer to fully cook to tender and render out fat, said Freda. The longer cooking resulted in the name “burnt ends.” “Our burnt ends are cooked and smoked for 16 hours,” said Freda. “If you know barbecue, you know that burnt ends are the best part of any barbecue.”

Sold a la carte, barbecue items on the farm’s menu can be enjoyed with scratch-made sides, such as BBQ Pit Beans, coleslaw, etc. Smoked sandwiches also are available. “Everything is fresh and made in our kitchens,” said Freda.

“Low and slow” is how meats should be smoked for barbecue, according to Freda, who is a self-proclaimed “dedicated barbecue fanatic.” He admits he sometimes sings or whistles a tune to “Betsey” when he’s getting ready to fill the smoker. Hickory wood adds smoke to the barbecue meat, he said.

Back-of-the-house trained, Freda said he has cooked “forever,” explaining that he is the oldest of six children in an Italian family. “We’re all about food and family,” he said. He and his wife, Kristi, have three young children.

“Food is my passion,” said Freda. “I cook at home, and I use two smokers to barbecue.” As far as Italian food, he sticks to authentic family recipes. “I think my homemade Italian red sauce is pretty darn good,” he said.

“Davis Farmland is a great business, said Freda, and I’m really in a wonderful place in my life. I really love what I do.”

To his credit, during an early morning interview, Freda tasted barbecue with real enthusiasm.

Davis Farmland accepts barbecue orders to go whenever possible. The business is open until 5 p.m. and customers have to pick up orders (only barbecue) at the admissions area before closing, said Larry Davis. The farm will close at 6 p.m. after Father’s Day, June 18, he said. For more information, visit

The Davis Mega Maze, located across the street from the farm, will officially open Sept. 2. At that time, guests will be able to buy barbecue at Smokey’s BBQ Shack. Chicken wings and turkey legs, in addition to other smoked meats, will be sold at that time. Guests will not have to pay admission to the maze in order to get their fix of barbecue, according to Larry Davis. However, you do have to pay admission at Davis Farmland to eat at one of the cafes, he said.

Barbecue lovers, get ready to go hog wild!



                         DAVIS FARMLAND HAS A MASSIVE BABY!

 (April 11, 2016 – Sterling, MA)  On Thursday, April 14th, just pIMG_6294rior to school vacation week, Davis Farmland opens for the season.

– Did you know Davis Farmland has added a baby girl Dromedary Camel to its largest sanctuary of endangered farm animals in North America?
– AND…did you know that camels are used for crop cultivation in areas like Saudi Arabia?
– Did you know the hump on their back is actually fat and not water and and it will increase in size as she gets older?
– Did you know they can drink up to 40 gallons of water at one time and the survive 7 days without water?

Camels can carry a 400 pound pack for 25 miles per day through the desert. However, unlike their cousin the Llama, they cannot climb well.  Camels are full grown at five years and can be up to seven feet tall. Camels live to be 40-50 years old.  They have 4 stomachs and eat greens and vegetation.  Dromedary camels, also called Arabian camels have one hump on their back. The dromedary is the largest camel after the Bactrian camel. The distinctive features of this camel are its long curved neck, narrow chest and only one hump (compared to the two humps on a Bactrian camel), thick double-layered eyelashes and bushy eyebrows. The coat is generally a shade of brown, but can range from black to nearly white. Daddy camels are called “Bulls”, Mommy camels are “cows”, and their babies are “Calves”.

Our new, not so little, baby girl dromedary camel has no name yet – It is our first Name The Baby Contest this season and you can enter a name of your choice at the farm or online at!

Be sure to pet, cuddle, and feed all of our newest baby animals from goats to sheep, llamas, chicks, hedgehog, chameleon and even kittens! Explore the largest sanctuary of heritage farm animals in North America…Take a Safari Hayride, Pony Ride and explore Imagine-Acres and Adventureland!

We kick off the special events this season, with Safety weekend! Davis Farmland salutes our local firefighters, police officers, and armed service personnel with FREE admission on April 30 & May 1. Active Fire, Police, EMT’s and Armed Service Personnel and their immediate families are admitted FREE when accompanied by the safety office and their ID required.

Check out our calendar of events for other special events and discount days! Discount days include Grandparents Day in April, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day & Grandparent’s Day in September.

Follow us on Facebook to get the inside scoop on upcoming events, weekly contests, and fabulous freebies!

DAVIS FARMLAND – CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY FARM, 145 Redstone Hill Rd, Sterling, MA 01564