Happy Pigs Make Better Pork
When we think about where our food comes from, it’s easy to forget that it was once a living creature. However, as consumers become more conscious of the treatment of animals, the concept of animal welfare has become increasingly important.
Our guest this week, Grace Park of Land to Table Farm, knows this all too well. She provides humanely harvest pork products and sources to local residents and restaurants. Honestly, it’s the best pork we’ve ever tasted.
Research has shown that pigs that are raised in a stress-free environment produce meat that is more tender and flavorful. When pigs are happy, their muscles are relaxed, which leads to less muscle tension and a more tender meat. Additionally, happy pigs are more active, which leads to better muscle development and marbling, which can enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.
Not only does the quality of the meat improve, but the welfare of the animal is also considered, which is a win-win situation for both the consumer and the animal. By choosing meat from farms that prioritize animal welfare, we can help support a more sustainable and humane food system.
Meet Grace Park (Land to Table Farm):
Land to Table Farm combines the passion of sustainable living with organic farming, using the latest technologies and proven methods & systems.
They raise our their animals with an emphasis on non-GMO/organic feed and humane living conditions.
Their pigs – red wattle hogs – are a large heritage breed with fleshy wattles attached to each side of their neck. The wattles have no known function, but Grace suspects they aid with temperature regulation. Red wattle hogs are known for their hardiness, foraging activity, and rapid growth rate; which accounts for them producing a lean meat that is flavorful and tender.
They’ve specifically placed their pens where there are lots of acorns, because acorns are their favorite food!
Their rabbits are New Zealand white rabbits. Their white color and red eyes are actually a form of albinism caused by a gene mutation. They have about 35 rabbits at the moment, between the mature adults and the young bunnies.
Grace Park 0:00
And the thing that’s interesting about the red waddle is their fat is different.
They’re called Red wattle because they have waddles on the side of their necks, and it does change that controls their temperature. And I do believe it has a play into their fat because their fat is very different than other pork fat. It cooks into the meat. So it’s it’s different. And so it’s not like course and just sits out there. It literally cooks into the meat and gives the meat more flavor. But the fat is a very healthy fat. You’re listening to the nutrition world podcast, a show about navigating the intricacies of holistic wellness. We’re a natural health food store located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we believe that optimal health and peak performance should be accessible to everyone.
Cady Kuhlman 0:57
Hello, everyone, and welcome to nutrition worlds podcast. We are so honored to have our guest here, Grace Frank. She is a local farmer, fourth generation family farmer. And just a wealth of knowledge on farming on chickens and turkeys and pigs. And we were chatting before and I’m learning things about, you know, all of this that she was sharing with me. And so, today the goal of this podcast is really to speak about her farm, what makes it unique, and how these animals are raised, and then ultimately how they are harvested here. And then, you know in the food that we’re going to consume. And so we’re honored to have her today and her name of the farm and let’s go into all that. Okay, yeah. So our farmers land table farm. We created it from scratch. We purchased the land in 2014 2015. And really wanted to do it from scratch so we could focus on permaculture sustainability. So we have a lot of permaculture on the property. We designed everything really focusing on passive solar, solar rainwater catchment. So we have all that in place at the farm. Oh, wow. That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s so cool. And so tell me how you got into this as a lifestyle. And as a, you know, a farmer? Well, I grew up in it.
Grace Park 2:25
I’m actually a fourth generation farmer from South Dakota, probably more. All of my family, for generations have been farmers from Germany and Norway. Wow. And so my grandparents, and my great grandparents came to South Dakota, my great grandparents on a covered wagon. And my grandfather heard that they were giving away free farmland. And so at the age of 13, he got on a train in Nebraska and went to South Dakota to declare his farmland. Wow. Yeah. So both sides of my family are farmers. And I, you know, I grew up in the environment. I’d always spend my summers at my grandparents farms. And when we moved here about 1516 years ago, from Boulder, Colorado, my husband had an interest in getting back into farming. His father, great grandfather was a farmer in Florida. And so we said, well, let’s, let’s try to discover some land. And it took us about three years to find the land that we felt, had the topography we were looking for, and just the unique aspects. So it’s only like 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. But it’s very peaceful and quiet and has a lot of unique terrain. We have a wetland area. We have a beautiful big pasture. We have a plateau, we have a forest. So we have a lot of different topography that we can do different things. Oh, that’s amazing. Yeah,
Cady Kuhlman 4:04
that sounds beautiful. I’d love to come as Yeah,
Grace Park 4:06
yeah, we have open house days. And we also do events at the farm. So it’s a great experience. And we have a tiny home where we do farm locations. Oh, that’s so cool. Yeah. So we have a lot of people that do that. From all over the country. They come here to hike, yeah, and be on the water. And our farm is 20 minutes from cloudland Canyon, and 15 minutes from Lake Nickajack. In 25 minutes from foster falls. So it’s a really nice grounding place turn to go a lot of different places.
Cady Kuhlman 4:38
Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s so cool. So for people that may not be as familiar with like a sustainable farm, you’ve described it somewhat, but that literally means that you almost have everything in this synergistic type flow right where we water’s available for the animals kind of naturally and then there’s food that they can graze on naturally and explain that a little bit
Grace Park 4:56
one so we have a combination of pasture and paddocks this time of year, it’s very difficult to have pasture. But they say we still let them go into the pasture areas but it’s as pigs are. A lot of farmers don’t like pigs because they can damage pastures. So we’ve created pasture areas in our ecosystem, where they’re at, which is a natural old growth forest that is integrated with a wetland area. So they have paddocks. They are fed all natural feed, we use a mill locally, that’s within 100 miles of us that has uses all local farmers all non soy, non GMO, non corn, all created here within 100 miles of our farm. And we also have pasture, but this time of year, they’re relying more on their feed versus pasture because there’s not a lot of grass right now. But we do a combination of pasture and all healthy natural organic feed.
Cady Kuhlman 6:10
Wow. Okay, and then get into a little bit of all the animals that you do have.
Grace Park 6:14
Yeah, so we raised red wattle as our pigs. They are one of the oldest breeds. They are a heritage breed, and they’re almost extinct. And we’re helping bring the breed back. So we have a full breeding program. We have we create, you know, we we raise them from babies, they’re bred in our farm. They’re born on our farm, and they live on the farm till either they’re harvested, or they continue as part of our breeding stock. Oh, wow. So we have a full breeding program. And then we have a full harvesting programs. So the feed is similar. The harvest feed we very much focus on non soy non corn non GMO, the breeding stock, they’re non soy non GMO, but they do get some corn, okay. But we’re not harvesting them. So Right. But it’s it’s a great breed. It’s a beautiful breed. They’re kind of like the bison of pork. They’re very lean, and they’re very flavorful. And most people who try it really see the difference in this pork is very unusual. It’s it really is kind of like the bison of pork. And that’s the best way to describe it.
Cady Kuhlman 7:29
I think that’s a good way to describe it. Because honestly, I’m not a huge fan of pork and I was speaking about that before. You know I’ve eaten pork some in my life but I oftentimes heard it was a dirty or you know food or just worried about maybe where it was sourced from and some of the pork even when I would cook it on how to smell love maybe a little dirty, you know, I don’t know, it just didn’t love pork. So haven’t eaten it a lot. Then I had your pork and loved it. Loved it. I mean, clean, lean, like you said I almost had to add actually a little bit of avocado oil or olive oil while cooking it because it was that lean? Yeah. Which is great. I mean, had the we had sausage links on Christmas morning from you. And I had five and I don’t eat sausage links and I loved it. So really, really clean and like No, no other tastes, but just a clean meat, you know,
Grace Park 8:17
we work really hard. They’re in a great environment, their love their entire lives. And when we go to the butcher, we call it harvesting because we feel that’s a more healthy, natural way. And that’s what we are doing, we’re harvesting like that. And they they really can tell a difference with our pork compared to a lot of the other farmers they say that our pork, our pigs are a lot healthier, really. They look a lot better. And when they start to process them, they can see a real big difference even in the meat. So we do take oil and they’re very friendly, and they don’t have any issues with them, because we handle them from day one. So they’re loved a lot. They’re they’re handled a lot. They’re not. They’re used to being around people. And that makes a big difference. Yeah. And where we take them to process them. It’s underground processing above Dunlap. It takes us a couple of hours to get there but they are gourmet butchers. They do beautiful cuts. We even have Porterhouse pork chops, and they are very good at sausage makers, all of our ground. Pork is ground ham, so it’s not scrap meat. We literally take the ham and grind it into broads, breakfast sausage, breakfast sausage links ground pork, so it’s not scrap meat. It’s pure ground ham with a little bit of their fat and the thing that’s interesting about the red waddle is their fat is different. They’re called Red WADL because they have waddles on the side of their necks, and it does change that control was their temperature. And I do believe it has a play into their fat because their fat is very different than other pork fat. It cooks into the meat. So it’s it’s different. And so it’s not like course and just sits out there. It literally cooks into the meat and gives the meat more flavor. But the fat is a very healthy fat. And so it’s just a different flavor.
Cady Kuhlman 10:26
Yeah, that makes total sense. And maybe that’s why there’s not a lot that you have to drain off or not a lot that you’re seeing kind of pulling to the side.
Grace Park 10:33
You’re not Yeah, that’s what’s interesting. I mean, when you get a ground a pound of pork, you truly get a pound of pork. So you’re not paying more for you’re getting a lot more value for your meat because it doesn’t shrink up like most pork does.
Cady Kuhlman 10:48
Yeah, yeah, that makes total sense. And so these are you said about 800 pound, like, are bigger than that
Grace Park 10:53
which breeding stock. Our bores are around 650 to 700 pounds are female cells that are breeding stock or 405 100 pounds. And we when we harvest them, they’re about 250 to 300 pounds. And they grow very fast. We can harvest them at eight months. Oh, so their meat is not it’s, you know, when you’re when you’re harvesting a pig at eight a year to a year in two months versus eight months. The meat is you know, you’re it’s not so long. I’d say as age Yeah. In terms of their meat. So it’s it. It also helps with the quality of the meat.
Cady Kuhlman 11:35
Wow, okay, yeah. Okay. And do pigs actually roll in my like people? Oh, they
Grace Park 11:38
love what they do. Yeah. They love what they do.
Cady Kuhlman 11:42
That’s funny. So how many pigs at one time? Are you like breeding and harvesting? Like, what’s the number typically
Grace Park 11:46
have between 60 and 75? pigs that are on one time? Okay. Yeah, that’s a lie. Yeah.
Cady Kuhlman 11:53
And do you like you recognize them? Or no, we have names. Okay.
Grace Park 11:57
That’s all our trading stock has named, okay. Our harvest stock is called Hamlet or bacon. But we do have names for all of our breeding stock, and they know it and we brush them and they’re scratched and rubbed a lot. And they’re very friendly pigs are not aggressive pigs at all. That’s the other reason I really like them. And they’re great for small batch farmers, because they’re very friendly. They’re easy to work with. And I like helping other farmers get involved with the red bottle. Yeah, we do that as well. We, we do sell some of our breeding stock.
Cady Kuhlman 12:31
Okay. And then tell me some other animals you have on your farm.
Grace Park 12:34
So we got into Turkey last year. Never had raised it, but really love them. They’re really fun birds, and they’re very friendly and inquisitive. And they’re very gentle. So we started last year just doing it for Thanksgiving. And I really liked them. And nobody around here is doing fresh local turkey. So I thought well, that’s a really good niche. Nobody’s doing it. And the community needs it. So now we’re actually harvesting every month turkey. So we have ground turkey, turkey sausage links, Turkey drumsticks, turkey wings, all natural, same, you know their pasture and old growth forest. And they’re also fed the same company Turkey product. So it’s all non soy, non corn, non GMO. Wow. All natural sourced food. Oh, that’s wonderful. Yeah. And you can really taste the difference. And we have different breeds, depending on the breeds that are very good for Thanksgiving turkeys are our Kentucky bourbons. And so we raise a lot of those for Thanksgiving turkeys. And then year round, we use other types of heritage turkeys that are faster growing, but they also are bulkier. And so we have a heart larger meat source.
Cady Kuhlman 13:58
Gotcha. Yeah. Okay. And then chickens too, right? We
Grace Park 14:01
do organic duck and chicken eggs. So we don’t do any chicken meat or duck meat. We strictly stay with the organic eggs. So we have what we call a chicken bus that we move around our plateau that helps nurture the grass as well. And we move it about every six to eight weeks. And then our ducks have a duck house that they go in at night. And we let them out in the day and they go all over the plateau and they have a big duck pond. And they have a really nice life. That’s awesome. But they know at four or five, they’re going in their duck house. And you know what they call it all get your ducks in a row. They really do do ducks in a row when they single file into their duck house.
Cady Kuhlman 14:46
Yeah. Oh, that’s cute. And they just stay in there for the night and they stay
Grace Park 14:50
in there for the night and that’s where they lay their eggs. So we you know that’s the easiest way to handle ducks. Otherwise it’s a it’s an Easter egg hunt every Day for Delta really. So that’s why we put them up at night. And they lay their eggs by 930 in the morning, and we let them out and then we put them up at four to five at night. Okay, and
Cady Kuhlman 15:11
so how often does a duck lay an egg? It depends on the breed.
Grace Park 15:15
Okay, um, like this time of year, we’re not getting as many duck eggs, but typically every other day, okay, or so.
Cady Kuhlman 15:23
And how many are they laying?
Grace Park 15:25
One egg? One egg, okay, yeah, each duck is lays one egg. Okay, but you know, there are meat ducks. But we have our breeds are more of a duck egg laying breed, we have khaki ducks, Indian runners, which are fun because they stand up tall, like a penguin and walk. And they’re really cute. And then golden. So those are the breeds that we have that are a larger, higher producing egg layer. Okay, so Wow, I
Cady Kuhlman 15:52
can’t even imagine what this looks like. It sounds like such a it’s really fun. It’s
Grace Park 15:55
a really beautiful and we’re very, we’re in the artists. So we have a lot of beautiful art on the farm. We also have a passive solar green house with hydroponics really. So we are doing hydroponics and raised beds. It’s just not our primary source. We do fingerling potatoes, and we do kale and spinach. But mostly it’s for the farm family, and then an extra will bring to the farmers market. But we do have towers, the you know, the hydroponic towers, as well as the hydroponic beds that we raise vegetables. Oh, wow.
Cady Kuhlman 16:31
Yeah. Okay. And so describe to me like a day in the life of a farmer, like what you’re doing, because I know you’re probably working long hours.
Grace Park 16:39
So I have staff because I also have a full time career. But typically, I work the farm on weekends, and I do the farmers markets, and I do all the marketing, I have an MBA in marketing. So I like to be in charge of the marketing. And so we focus first of all, the first thing in the morning is getting on the internet and doing social media to reach out to people that day about what’s going on and just kind of, you know, grab people’s attention. And then we do about two hours of feeding in the morning. Which, you know, because we have pigs and turkeys and chickens and ducks and a lot of moving parts and water and right now we have a lot of baby plants that we’re bringing up. So, um, you know, in the greenhouse, yeah, in our baby room, we call it our nursery. So, you know, there’s just a lot of moving parts, but then we have projects, so you’re always cleaning pens, or, you know, areas where like right now, we have baby chickens in different ages of life, because we try to bring in fresh chickens and ducks at least two times a year, okay, to three times a year. So our herd in our flock is always strong and vibrant. Gotcha. A lot of farmers, like try to get everything at once, which makes no sense. And because if you stage it, then you’re always having a young vibrant herd. And those that are staging out is not like a huge number. So it’s easy, it’s smarter to do your livestock that way, then have everything the same age. So we really focus on that, okay, for our birds, and turkeys, we you can’t buy baby turkeys between November and the end of February. They just don’t they’re just not available. Okay. So we have a couple of nurseries that we purchase most of our animals are flock from, but we did hold back to breeding pairs this year. So we can start to raise our own eggs. So we can also have our birds as well as the birds that we purchase such so hopefully we can have more babies in January and February. Turkeys are very hard as babies are they you can lose up to 50% of your baby turkeys. Wow, why? They’re just really tough the first three weeks, okay, so they’re very sensitive. You can’t you have to have warm water. They have to have lots of electrolytes. Really, they’re very Yeah, they’re very sensitive. So we’ve created a very intense nurse, nurse nurse a nursery for all of our birds to maximize our success rate. Gotcha. So but it’s still you can lose a lot of baby turkeys which is challenging, particularly when you’re paying between 12 to $20 for one baby turkey. Wow. So okay, yeah. They’re they’re a lot more expensive than the ducks. In the chickens, you can buy a baby chicken for two to $5. Same with ducks. But turkeys are the cheapest is $9. And that’s buying a whole bunch of them. But the majority you’re paying 12 to $15 for one baby turkey. Wow. Yeah. So that’s why turkey meat is more expensive. Okay? Just because I mean, you can lose a lot more turkeys. We’ve had a lot of challenges with turkeys this last year, a lot of a lot of areas lost a bunch of turkeys. And they’re harder to grow at a young age. And, um, they do eat a lot too. Okay, so
Cady Kuhlman 20:41
Wow, I had no idea. But yeah. So I guess you know, the reason I’m so happy that we got you on our podcast here and that we’re talking is if you’re listening, nutrition, we’re all now carries, like, a lot of your stuff. Yeah, we’re very excited. You are yes, we’re honored and so excited. And it will be our exclusive store. Oh, wonderful. Thank you. Yeah, I thought that was the case. Yeah. So we have a huge meat freezer now. And so if you’re local to Chattanooga, I know some of you might not be if you’re listening, but hopefully if you’re local or with any, you know, sort of radius. Tell the items that we have right now from you.
Grace Park 21:11
So um, you don’t have everything, but we’re growing it. And so right now they have our pork chops, our broths our country style ribs. Our breakfast links, our breakfast sausage that’s loose. And I believe we have some ground ham ground pork is we do Yep. And then they also have some of our ground turkey. And next week we’ll be able to add if you guys wanted our ground turkey links. Yeah. And we also will have some drumsticks Yeah,
Cady Kuhlman 21:43
we’d love to add this. Yeah, we’ve got just enough little freezer space that Christy and I another employee at the store have been pushing the really make this whole one freezer just for meat. And so we’ve got like a couple I think ravioli is in there that we’re moving on out so we can make them for all the meat and
Grace Park 21:59
you don’t ever uncured bacon, but next week, we will also have cured yam we want that yeah, which is all it’s it’s created all naturally from celery salt. So the butcher that we use is very focused on healthy natural, and they know that we have our clientele is very naturally oriented, very healthy oriented. So all of the products that they use in our processing are on natural and very healthy. So wonderful.
Cady Kuhlman 22:28
It’s just so ideal, it’s from start to finish exactly what we look for in a meat supplier. And and a farmer is, you know, you care about the animals you care about their life about their even I mean happiness, you know, and I know that may sound silly to some people, but it’s very, it’s not silly. Yeah,
Grace Park 22:45
it’s very important and interesting. Most of our staff are females on the farm. And we’ve we’ve had good mill farm, you know, farm crews, as well, but I find the female workers. It’s funny, but the animals relate to them differently.
Cady Kuhlman 23:02
I really like bond with them more. Well, yeah. And, um,
Grace Park 23:06
I mean, I’ve been called the pig whisperer, but we can just get the animals to do things. Because we don’t push them into something, we kind of coax them into it. And they don’t feel like they’re being forced. They feel like there’s this flow there. I understand
Cady Kuhlman 23:22
that. So with my children, I understand that. Yeah, the husband will even say how did you get them to do that? And there’s a way of an energy and and asking that, yes, them to do it. Yeah, rather than a forcing exam, and they rebelling and so forth.
Grace Park 23:35
Right. And that’s what we’ve tried to do with our entire farm is have a lot of Goddess energy, per se. Yeah. And love that. And we have, you know, a lot of Goddess areas around the farm, we have a teepee. So we’ve, you know, there’s a lot of beautiful goddess energy. And I feel that that’s important for a farm to have. Because I think animals respond to it. And it creates, in my opinion, a healthier environment.
Cady Kuhlman 24:04
Wow. That’s wonderful. So I’m hoping I can come and tour it and we could get some photos for ya social media and maybe even share with you know, our listeners here. And I don’t know, I think that took care of all of my questions and thoughts about your farm. Is there anything else that you’d want to note? No,
Grace Park 24:19
we just we’d love to have people at the farm. And anytime we have our website is land to table farm.com. So our that’s our primary name for the farm. And our certain specialty product lines like our pork is called the Flying Pig ranch because I’ve always said when pigs can fly, and I love the name flying pig ranch, and our chicken and duck eggs are Grace’s girls. And then our turkey is called Grace’s gobblers. So but it’s land to table farm.com
Cady Kuhlman 24:53
That’s perfect. Thank you so much.