Edible Rhody Fall 2012 : Page 10

farmer philosophy Pat’s Pastured Where it’s OK to be a pig STORY AND PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CHITNIS clean up the soil with their scratching and foraging, the sheep level the field with their grazing, allowing the grass to grow back thicker and with more diversity, and finally the cattle fertilize. The process is incredibly restorative.” The challenge of finding addi-tional pastureland remains Pat’s obstacle to further expansion. He raises three heritage breeds: Tamworth, which have long bellies for bacon; Berkshire, known as the Kobe beef of pork, with lots of marbling and great flavors; and Large Black, celebrated for their good mothering tenden-cies and docile nature. Pat crosses these three breeds, selecting for the perfect mix of fla-vor, temperament, hardiness and mothering qualities. “Raising heritage breeds, and allowing them to live in the woods and open pasture, which offers them diversity of diet [acorns, leaves, pumpkins, apples, grain], leads to a complex-ity of flavor,” explains Pat. “In addition the pigs naturally get exercise, increasing their blood flow, and producing healthy, rosy pork, with the perfect amount of marbling.” According to Pat pork was never intended to be the “other white meat.” Often with store-bought pork, you need marinade and heaps of applesauce to increase the flavor and moisture but with Pat’s pork, there is natu-ral sweetness, flavor and tenderness. No sauce is needed as a disguise, just a bit of salt and pepper. It’s perfect pork—the way na-ture intended. e R F or many farmers, chickens are jokingly referred to as the “gate-way drug”—a foray into raising layer and broiler birds leads to bigger and more varied livestock endeavors. This certainly was the case for Pat McNiff, the man behind Pat’s Pastured, who started his farming adventures with vegetables aplenty, and a few laying hens. Fast forward less than a decade, and Pat’s brood has ex-panded to include pigs, sheep, cattle and turkey, not to mention thousands of laying and broiler chickens. Pat hails from Long Island, New York, a born-and-bred suburban boy with no his-tory of farming. Indeed, his family still puz-zles over his current line of work. While on summer break from Providence College, Pat worked for a community garden program in the Smith Hill neighborhood, which whet-ted his appetite for vegetable farming, led to his becoming a program director for South-side Community Land Trust (where he in-troduced chickens into the mix), and eventually starting Urban Edge farm for his master’s thesis. woodlands—pigs will do what they are nat-urally designed to do: rooting with their strong necks and snout, turning over and fertilizing the soil, revitalizing and clearing the land in the process.” As Pat’s own interest in livestock grew, he noticed there was an increasing demand for grass-fed, pasture-raised, local meat. People had experienced the joys of eating locally grown vegetables, and were ready to make the leap to local meat. Sensing an opportu-nity, Pat invested in 15 pigs, which he raised and processed for market. At the time, one of the drawbacks to raising local meat in Rhode Island was the lack of butchering services. The first year, Pat had to take his pigs north of Albany, New York, for processing—an inconvenient and costly trip. Working with the Rhode Island Raised Livestock Association (RIRLA), Pat helped localize the butchering process. “We wouldn’t be processing in Rhode Island, and you wouldn’t be finding local meat at farmers’ markets and restaurants, if not for the work of RIRLA,” Pat says. “I certainly wouldn’t be raising livestock if not for them.” Once the butchering process was localized, and his first pork sales were met enthusiasti-cally, Pat began to build his meat business. He named it “Pat’s Pastured” and added sheep and cattle. He eventually moved the operation to Briggs Boesch Farm in East Greenwich where he is the farm manager. “The addition of sheep and beef came about not only in response to what people wanted but it made sense for the farm,” he explains. “Pigs, chicken, sheep and cattle work well together to maintain healthy land—pigs clear the land, the birds come along and Upon graduating, Pat took over as farm manager at Casey Farm in Saunderstown, where he added three pigs to their menagerie of turkeys and chickens. The pigs, which he raised strictly for his own meat needs, were his introduction to larger livestock. He found that he enjoyed their personalities immensely. “Pigs are expressive animals,” Pat muses. “They take joy in their environment, and experience the land in a way that is interest-ing to watch. When allowed to live in their natural environment—both pasture and 10 EDIBLE RHODY | FALL 2012 Christine Chitnis is a Providence-based freelance writer, photographer and author of Markets of New England (The Little Book-room, 2011). Visit her at ChristineChitnis.com. Pat’s Pastured Briggs Boesch Farm 830 South Rd., East Greenwich, RI Visit PatsPastured.com or visit the farm store. Check hours in advance. www.EdibleRhody.com

Farmer Philosophy • Pat's Pastured

Story And Photo By Christine Chitnis

Where it's OK to be a pig

For many farmers, chickens are jokingly referred to as the "gateway drug" – a foray into raising layer and broiler birds leads to bigger and more varied livestock endeavors. This certainly was the case for Pat McNiff, the man behind Pat's Pastured, who started his farming adventures with vegetables aplenty, and a few laying hens. Fast forward less than a decade, and Pat's brood has expanded to include pigs, sheep, cattle and turkey, not to mention thousands of laying and broiler chickens.

Pat hails from Long Island, New York, a born-and-bred suburban boy with no history of farming. Indeed, his family still puzzles over his current line of work. While on summer break from Providence College, Pat worked for a community garden program in the Smith Hill neighborhood, which whetted his appetite for vegetable farming, led to his becoming a program director for Southside Community Land Trust (where he introduced chickens into the mix), and eventually starting Urban Edge farm for his master's thesis.

Upon graduating, Pat took over as farm manager at Casey Farm in Saunderstown, where he added three pigs to their menagerie of turkeys and chickens. The pigs, which he raised strictly for his own meat needs, were his introduction to larger livestock. He found that he enjoyed their personalities immensely.

"Pigs are expressive animals," Pat muses. "They take joy in their environment, and experience the land in a way that is interesting to watch. When allowed to live in their natural environment – both pasture and woodlands – pigs will do what they are naturally designed to do: rooting with their strong necks and snout, turning over and fertilizing the soil, revitalizing and clearing the land in the process."

As Pat's own interest in livestock grew, he noticed there was an increasing demand for grass-fed, pasture-raised, local meat. People had experienced the joys of eating locally grown vegetables, and were ready to make the leap to local meat. Sensing an opportunity, Pat invested in 15 pigs, which he raised and processed for market.

At the time, one of the drawbacks to raising local meat in Rhode Island was the lack of butchering services. The first year, Pat had to take his pigs north of Albany, New York, for processing – an inconvenient and costly trip. Working with the Rhode Island Raised Livestock Association (RIRLA), Pat helped localize the butchering process.

"We wouldn't be processing in Rhode Island, and you wouldn't be finding local meat at farmers' markets and restaurants, if not for the work of RIRLA," Pat says. "I certainly wouldn't be raising livestock if not for them."

Once the butchering process was localized, and his first pork sales were met enthusiastically, Pat began to build his meat business. He named it "Pat's Pastured" and added sheep and cattle. He eventually moved the operation to Briggs Boesch Farm in East Greenwich where he is the farm manager. "The addition of sheep and beef came about not only in response to what people wanted but it made sense for the farm," he explains. "Pigs, chicken, sheep and cattle work well together to maintain healthy land – pigs clear the land, the birds come along and clean up the soil with their scratching and foraging, the sheep level the field with their grazing, allowing the grass to grow back thicker and with more diversity, and finally the cattle fertilize. The process is incredibly restorative." The challenge of finding additional pastureland remains Pat's obstacle to further expansion.

He raises three heritage breeds: Tamworth, which have long bellies for bacon; Berkshire, known as the Kobe beef of pork, with lots of marbling and great flavors; and Large Black, celebrated for their good mothering tendencies and docile nature. Pat crosses these three breeds, selecting for the perfect mix of flavor, temperament, hardiness and mothering qualities.

"Raising heritage breeds, and allowing them to live in the woods and open pasture, which offers them diversity of diet [acorns, leaves, pumpkins, apples, grain], leads to a complexity of flavor," explains Pat. "In addition the pigs naturally get exercise, increasing their blood flow, and producing healthy, rosy pork, with the perfect amount of marbling."

According to Pat pork was never intended to be the "other white meat." Often with store-bought pork, you need marinade and heaps of applesauce to increase the flavor and moisture but with Pat's pork, there is natural sweetness, flavor and tenderness. No sauce is needed as a disguise, just a bit of salt and pepper. It's perfect pork – the way nature intended.

Christine Chitnis is a Providence-based freelance writer, photographer and author of Markets of New England (The Little Bookroom, 2011). Visit her at ChristineChitnis.com.

Pat's Pastured
Briggs Boesch Farm
830 South Rd., East Greenwich, RI

Visit PatsPastured.com or visit the farm store. Check hours in advance.

Read the full article at http://onlinedigeditions.com/article/Farmer+Philosophy+%E2%80%A2+Pat%27s+Pastured/1176588/126390/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here