This past winter, along with our venture into tree crops, we also made a return to our hog farming roots. When my grandparents first purchased the land Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm sits on, in 1971, my grandfather started raising hogs, just as his father and grandfather had done before him. He raised the heritage Poland China breed and my dad would later raise Chester Whites and Hampshires. Hog farming was a main contributor to my family’s rather modest livelihood into the early 1990s. By that time the infrastructure for commercial hog farming had essentially disappeared from Northern California, leaving just small specialty hog farmers. Fortunately for us, our pumpkin farm business had begun to take on a life of its own.
A meeting in the fall of 2014 has led to our return to the hog business. Darrel Corti, perhaps the leading authority on food in California, was touring our farm with my dad. Darrel asked the question that so many of you have asked before: “What do you do with all of the leftover pumpkins?” Dad explained that we used to feed them to our hogs, who did very well on them; but now most are just plowed under. Darrel halted the tour and insisted we get some feeder pigs and start supplementing their diet with pumpkins. He said he would love to have some of that pork to sell at his Corti Brothers Market in Sacramento. And so we did it!
The hogs have been raised in the pumpkin fields over the winter, fed normal hog feed but also taking the opportunity to eat lots of pumpkins (they especially love the seeds) and rooting around in the native grasses. We feel great about using our leftover crop in a sustainable way and are hoping to be able to grow our hog business over the next few years. The key for us will be in finding some more buyers. So far, we have provided pork to Corti Brothers Market, some fantastic Farm-to Fork dinners at Yuba Harvest, and private individuals. All who have tasted it say it has a wonderful unique flavor.
We have a limited number of hogs available for other buyers over the next few weeks. They will be sold at $2.99/pound for the pork from a whole hog (usually about 200 lbs), ready to cut and wrap; $3.49/lb if you would like just half. We will take care of delivery to any butcher shops within 50 miles of us. We do recommend Tootles in Marysville, they are great people that make a mean sausage! Give us a call if you are interested! (530) 633-2568, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.