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As an amateur chef, Matthew Lawrence quickly learned that the quality of meat used in a meal has a huge impact on the final product. As he catered local weddings and competitions, he struggled to find local and sustainable meat from farmers nearby. To improve his craft and provide a better alternative to grocery store meats, Matthew and his wife Jesie decided to create what they were searching for by starting their own sustainable multi-species pasture farm in Sylacauga, Alabama. After all, as Matthew says, nature is where all the activity happens.
If starting their own farm wasn’t ambitious enough, Matthew and Jesie also built their own USDA inspected processing facility to service both their farm and other local farmers. Providing a local processor for the community results in better meats for everyone.
“It’s critical that we do our own processing,” he says. “We want to make sure the the absolute best food product gets to the customer’s table. Controlling our own facility is difficult but it makes our farm different. It truly is craft butchery and craft farming.”
Pasture-raised heritage hogs produce meat that's typically darker in color, with a richer pork flavor and decadent succulence. Studies have shown that a combination of genetics and husbandry lead to a higher PH, the factor behind color and flavor. Marble Creek Farmstead does just that, matching heritage breeds with outstanding farm practices to offer a superior product with a difference you can see and taste.
The Lawrence’s focus on hogs rests primarily with Berkshire and Tamworth breeds. The Berkshire has been called the "Kobe of Pork," for its marbling, tenderness and rich flavor. The Tamworth is known as the "Bacon Pig" for the ability to grow mass without having too much fat. Marble Creek Farmstead is also home to Large Black and Red Wattle hog breeds. With room to roam in pastures of clover, rye, bluegrass, buttercups, and flowers, the hogs instinctually root around, eating grasses, dirt, and grubs. The pigs also have access to spent brewer’s grain, fermented grains of wheat, barley and sorghum from nearby brewers, as well as a supplemental non-GMO feed.
With 40 acres of open pastures and woods, Marble Creek Farmstead provides plenty of space for their animals to enjoy the land without destroying the earth. Their 100% pasture-raised chickens spend their entire lives grazing on lush pastures that include a wide variety of nutritious grasses like bahia, clover, rye, dandelions, thistle, bluegrass, and much, much more. The flock enjoys supplemental feed of non-GMO corn, barley, wheat, sunflower seeds, and soybean meal.
“I know if I did good work because the animals are happy and the land is good,” shares Matthew. “Farming requires self-reflection for success. If you work hard at being better every day, you see a positive response to that.”