When Ed Burchell decided to retire, he and his wife, Rosemary, bought a pastoral 100-acre property in Monkton as a way to enjoy a lifetime of hard work.
“I wanted to take some time off,” recalls Burchell, who quickly realized what a daunting task it was to tend so much land. One of the biggest chores was cutting all that grass. “So I started buying cattle,” he says with a laugh. “We’d have them on the farm in the spring, then we’d sell them [for meat] in the fall.”
But as Burchell watched the cows graze, he started to get another idea. “The beef industry was losing a substantial market share to both chicken and pork,” says Burchell, noting that the health stance against saturated fat had turned people away from beef. Though he didn’t know much about the meat industry at the time, he saw a business opportunity. Eventually, he purchased another 117 acres, then 133 the year after that.
“I thought that maybe we could bring people back to beef by producing a better product than what was on the market,” says Burchell. “I thought, ‘I’m going to start a small herd and produce some beef for my neighbors, then I’ll see what happens.’”
Burchell purchased several pure-bred female cows from the University of Maryland’s Wye Angus Program on the Eastern Shore, then one thing led to the other, as he and cattle manager Dean Bryant soon struck up a friendship—and business. The two became partners in 1996, and Roseda—a combination of Ed’s wife’s name and his own—was born.
Today, Roseda Beef, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, supplies dry-aged, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free Angus beef—from burgers and hot dogs to sirloin and filet—to local restaurants and area markets. You can find it at Graul’s or Giant, Ryleigh’s Oyster Bar or Miss Shirley’s, as well as through Old Line Custom Meat Company, which they helped found by joining forces with the veteran George G. Ruppersberger & Sons in 2011. Old Line is now the largest producer of beef in the Mid-Atlantic—and the farm itself has grown to encompass 350 acres.
Several times a week, the Burchells, including their son, Eddie, who joined the business after time in the Ravens’ office, put their money where their mouth is.
“We eat meat a few times a week,” says Ed. “My favorite is the eight-ounce burger without a bun. I top it with mustard and bread-and-butter pickles, because it doesn’t disguise the taste of the beef.”