Pete Westmoreland, owner and operator of H&P Meats in New Hope, grew up on a farm in the Ladd’s community of Marion County near Guild. His family raised livestock to provide meat for the family table. “When we were growing up, we harvested all of our own meat,” said Westmoreland. His father, Leonard, taught him how to harvest the animals and process the meat needed to feed the family in the respectful manner that has been passed down for generations in the agricultural communities of our country.
“This is a dying art and skill,” Westmoreland said. “As people leave the farms, fewer people are raising livestock and crops, and people get farther away from the source of their food. I raise these animals from birth and see them through the whole process. The animals are valued and treated with care and respect from beginning to end.
“Many people don’t see our work in a favorable way. So many people don’t know where their food comes from or how it gets to the table. We want to be that connection.
“Meat processing is a skill and a service that is necessary. People need food. We provide them with a source of fresh, safe meat. We raise all the animals we process for sale in our shop, except the chickens. When we sell to our customers, they can be sure that they are getting 100 percent meat with no hormones or any other additives because we have overseen every step of the process.
“When we started H&P Meats, not only did I want to have a way to process the livestock we raised on our farm, I wanted to provide the service for the surrounding agricultural communities. The farmers who raise cattle locally have very few places to get the animals processed. We are a USDA-inspected processor, so we can offer that service to other livestock producers for their own use or for resale at farmers markets and other retail outlets.”
H&P customers can also request custom cuts, a service that is hard to find today when many food stores do not have a butcher on site.
While Westmoreland learned this skill as a boy on the family farm, processing meat wasn’t his full-time job until 2000. After graduating from Marion County High School, he continued his education at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where he met his wife, Vicky. He worked in production control at the Nissan plant in Smyrna and Vicky worked full time for UPS. However, even while he was employed at Nissan, Pete was raising livestock and processing the meat for his family. He always wanted to get back to the farm. When he had the opportunity to buy the farm next to his father’s, he retired from Nissan and moved back home. At about the same time, Berryhill’s meat processing plant in New Hope came up for sale, and H&P Meats was born.
“There was a need in this area for the service,” Westmoreland said. “We probably have over 200 beef, pork and lamb producers who use our services. Most are around here and in the Middle Tennessee area, but I have one customer who comes all the way from Garden City, Georgia — over five hours away! We usually average 40 animals a week — around 2,000 a year — but we have been even busier this year. By July, we were booked through September. Probably about 75 percent of it is beef, and most of the rest is pork, though we do get a few lambs.”
H&P has nine employees, but it is a family business. Vicky, daughter Annabelle and son Preston are all valuable members of the team.
Vicky was still employed at UPS when H&P opened in 2000, and after the initial startup, she wasn’t very involved in the day-to-day operation. “I was still working full time and raising kids,” she said. “I didn’t have time to work here as well.”
When asked how he got Vicky involved in the business, Pete answered, “I think she felt sorry for me!”
Vicky said that she started first just doing the payroll. Then after she retired, she helped out some with packing, scheduling the animals coming in and waiting on customers in addition to the bookkeeping. “And now I am here all the time!” she said.
Annabelle said that she and Preston, who now works full time on the family farm, started helping out when they were about 8 or 9.
“They were so short, we had to put out milk crates for them to stand on when they were helping with the packing,” said Vicky. “They were young, but when you run a family-owned business, everyone helps out when needed.
“Annabelle still helps out wherever needed; however, she is planning to attend nursing school in the near future.”
“Since we’re a locally owned business, we get to know our customers, and they have become like family,” said Vicky. “We care about them and about providing fresh, safe, quality food for their families — providing a connection between the farm and their table.”