A few days ago I made good use of a day off to head out on a Charlotte area farm tour, with one of our stops being at Grateful Growers. Grateful Growers Farms is a farm that we’ve used for pork, they’re well known locally for it, but I was surprised to see everything else they had going on. Turkeys, chicks and even shiitake mushrooms are found on their farm.
The hogs they grow on the farm are Tamworth hogs, making their farm truly a breed apart. Tamworth is one of the oldest breeds of hogs in existence, with their population listed as “threatened” in the US, and “vulnerable” in the UK. In fact, they are so scarce in the UK that there are fewer than 300 registered breeding females.
What makes the Tamworth hog so unique in a gastronomical sense is that they can reach such a massive size (500 pounds!) with relatively little fat. This has led to the nickname “bacon pig” as they produce lean, flavorful meat.
For those of you that have a problem seeing what you are eating, rest assured that these pigs live a long and very happy life on the farm before they meet their end. Something that I thought was really cool about their set up was the series of pens that the pigs are kept in. The pens they live in have openings which vary in size, allowing small pigs to hang out with large pigs when they choose, or they can just hang out with piglets their own size when they want, especially when it’s time to eat.
Come feeding time, these pigs are well taken care of. All of their feed is organically grown, and of course the leftovers are composted right on the farm.
As impressed as I was with what I saw on the farm, I am equally impressed by what they accomplish off the farm. They regularly appear at all the big farmers markets in the area, they have a travelling concession truck called “Harvest Moon” that features guest chefs preparing their pork in Uptown Charlotte, and they soon will open the Harvest Moon restaurant in Uptown. I thought I was busy, but I don’t know when these folks sleep.
A previous post featuring Grateful Growers Farm’s pork belly