After six seasons of growing heritage and op vegetables, flowers, and herbs Reformation Farm intends to focus their efforts this season on establishing a half acre pasture for raising Ossabaw hogs.
Ossabaw hogs are a small breed brought to the US by the Spanish and released on Ossabaw Island where they thrived as a feral species for many years before being brought to the mainland for domestication. They intend to start with two sows, one boar, and at least two young males for butcher the first year. They intend to start construction of the fence and shelter as soon as the weather permits.
They own a one-acre parcel of land on the corner of 84th Street and Eastern Ave that is surrounded by suburban sprawl but located just a mile from their extended family’s farm. This piece of land has two very old apple trees, several very old Concord and wild grape vines, a drainage ditch and a lot of scrub brush. They feel it will be a very suitable location for raising this breed of pig, which is notorious for being good rooters and foragers. Because the land is isolated from their family and is surrounded by residential development, a quality well built fence will be the biggest expense. They intend to use wood fence posts with railroad tie posts at the corners and on either side of the gates along with woven wire fencing with a single strand solar powered electric fence inside the woven wire. They will also include two tube gates for easy in/out access for a truck/trailer. They believe this fence will be more than sufficient to keep the pigs contained without the need for constant monitoring. They would like to add three rails to the fence facing the street to match the neighborhood aesthetic but will save that for a future season.
Feed costs will be relatively low as they currently import approximately one yard of food waste to this location each week from 8 food/coffee retailers in the city of Grand Rapids including an organic health food store and two local farm sourced restaurants. They expect to offer the pigs hay rather than grain as that is how they have been raised by the farm we plan to source them from. Reformation Farm will also offer them waste generated from their three other food plots in addition to the food waste they pick up weekly. They have been collecting food waste like this for over three years and composting it with worms.
Their interest in raising pigs was borne out of a need to expedite the composting process and turn the piles by means other than a tractor or by hand. The shelter will be a simple hut build with straw bales, lumber and cob with an oversized roof designed for catching and retaining rain water. However, for the sake of saving time they may purchase a simple structure second hand and build the straw bale shelter at a later point. They will need at least two structures eventually if not immediately to keep the boar separate from the sows throughout the year.
While they have been developing plans for the proposed pig production for over a year, they were only recently introduced to the Ossabaw hogs. They have been interested in raising pigs for several years but have waited until other aspects of their farm grid were established. Two of their farmer friends have had small scale pig operations over the past few years and they have been able to learn from their experiences.