The idea for Autumn’s Harvest Farm was born in 2001 when Tim and Sarah Haws went on their first date.
“It was on our first or second date, and Sarah was telling me how she always wanted to hatch chickens,” Tim explains. “She told me how she used to take eggs out of her family’s refrigerator and put them in a drawer.”
“So the next time we went on a date, I brought her six chicks. A few years later, we got married, and we knew we wanted to start a farm as soon as we got married. So we produced more chicks out of those first six, then we got some cows, and eventually we got pigs.”
Today, the pig herd at Autumn’s Harvest is 100% Berkshire, a heritage breed that the Haws decided to work with after much experimentation, because “they’re really friendly, and the meat quality is outstanding, with good marbling and slightly darker red color than normal.”
Early on, Tim and Sarah knew they wanted to farm regeneratively.
“The first book we read on the topic,” Tim tells us, “was You Can Farm by Joel Salatin. Then we discovered Allan Savory, and we realized we wanted to get to the point where we were using the animals to improve the environment in general. The land we started with was some of the worst land in the area, and now it’s high-producing farmland.”
The Haws’ approach to pig farming incorporates the best of animal welfare practices and land restoration strategies. The pigs’ diet is a balance of pasture-based foraging (seeds, grasses, nuts, and bugs) and locally-sourced, locally-milled GMO-free feed. The Haws use A-frame huts to farrow the piglets in, which is door-less hut in the pasture that’s innovatively designed to let the sows give birth to piglets naturally, outdoors, while also minimizing risk that mom will accidentally lie down on her piglets. Thirty acres of shady forest on the property provide respite for the pigs as well as goats during the hot summers. The entire farm is certified as Animal Welfare Approved.
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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