Blake and Stephanie Alexandre, along with their five children, run the show at Alexandre Family Farms, a multispecies livestock and dairy farm where the redwoods meet the sea in Crescent City, California.
Their Tamworth-Berkshire pastured pork is creamy, nutty, and flavorful, thanks to the care that goes into raising them. Custom finishing on locally sourced, organic milk-soaked grain results in extreme flavors distinct to this family farm.
“It’s pretty invaluable to be part of the family farm,” shares Vanessa Alexandre, Blake and Stephanie’s daughter and the family’s resident pork expert. “We each have different passions, interests, and strengths that we bring to the table, but always with shared goals and aspirations. You have to work a little harder each day but it’s fulfilling and purposeful.”
20 years ago, Blake and Stephanie started the dairy operation to craft the healthiest, best-tasting milk with organic, pasture-raised dairy farming. Their sons, Joseph and Christian, started a small 4-H and FFA project with organic pastured hens that has grown into a flock of 40,000 hens whose eggs serve the entire West Coast.
In 2005, Vanessa began raising purebred Tamworth sows and providing pastured pork in the family’s farm store. Knowing that the family could raise fantastic heritage pork led to the continued development of their pasture-raised hogs. Now, the Alexandre family has 15 organic sows to grow their herd year over year with heritage-breed genetics from Tamworth, Berkshire, and purebred Mangalitsa pigs.
The Alexandre hogs root around in permanent pastures with lush grasses year-round. They graze through paddocks and enjoy mud baths in their pastures. To bring the farm full-circle, the hogs enjoy a diet of excess cracked eggs from the pastured hens and an organic grain from a nearby mill, soaked in milk from the Alexandre family’s dairy operation.
From organic dairy farming to pastured pork, the Alexandre family does it all — together as a family. Their hard work cultivating a complex nutrient cycle on open pastures results in deliciousness at every turn. Milk, eggs, beef, pork, you name it and they’ve got it!
And that’s just part of the process. The Alexandre family is committed to the land they’re on, building new wetlands and providing riparian areas for natural wildlife to thrive. In addition to over 300 migratory birds that flourish on their farm, a herd of 250 Roosevelt elk moved onto their healthy soils and lush pastures. It’s no wonder that even wildlife wants to live on a farm that’s certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), and American Humane Certified!
Their location just a mile from the beach in Northern California’s Humboldt and Del Norte counties makes this farm an ideal place for healthy animals grazing on pastures. A mild, temperate climate with consistent rainfall provides a home where animals are never too hot and never too cold.
For three years, we've been traveling across America and beyond, seeking out the most delicious and unique beef from independently-owned farms, from Pennsylvania Angus finished on ancient grains to the world’s rarest steak, Olive-fed Wagyu, which hails from a remote Japanese island.
Now we're expanding our appetite to pork, searching out the country’s highest-quality, independently raised pork not available in stores. Among the types of pork we're seeking out as we become a marketplace for craft producers are heritage and unusual breeds, farms with innovative feed programs like locally sourced hazelnuts, and meat with regionally distinct flavors. We'll continue adding pork offerings as it finds exceptional new farms.
Before factory farms became the norm for U.S. pork production -- and with them, dry, bland-tasting meat -- heritage breeds abounded on small farms. Today, a movement of small-scale pork producers around the country is working to save heritage breeds, while also giving eaters tastier, richer meat. Heritage breeds range in flavor from Berkshire on the one end, known for being tender and rich in fat, to Red Wattle on the other, a rare, flavorful variety bred by New Calendonians and later New Orleaners to star in Cajun cuisine.
Pasture-raised pork comes from pigs that live outside in fields or forests, rather than confined indoors. The small-scale farmers who choose to go the very labor-intensive route of raising pork on pasture will tell you they do so because it produces more flavorful meat, happier pigs, and a healthier environment. Eaters love pasture-raised pork because it’s generally higher in Vitamin D thanks to an outdoor life in the sunshine, and they're fat richer in monounsaturated fats.
Pasture-raised pork can cook a little faster than industrially raised pork. For chops, use the reverse-sear method: cook the pork in the oven, to your desired doneness, then transfer to a skillet to quickly sear. Braises also work well for pasture-raised pork. Bacon is best treated to a nice, quick pan-sizzle. Read on for more on the cooking techniques you can use.
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