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I am no stranger to cooking with Porch Swing Farms’ products. And while I have purchased several of their items from farmers’ markets in Little Rock, there is nothing quite like taking one’s appreciation to the next level with a farm visit. Witnessing firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to raise animals the right way is something to behold, so when ownership extended an invitation to come out, I obliged.
The brains and muscle behind the small acreage operation in Bigelow, Arkansas, is the husband-and-wife duo of Aaron Baldwin and Holly Payne. Aaron is a biochemist, and Holly is a costume designer. But they are all in and fully committed to making Porch Swing Farms the best it can be. Both Aaron and Holly are from Arkansas, and after time away, they came back to reside in Little Rock. Soon after, farm life came calling.
Holly grew up on a farm, so the transition was a fairly easy one. She says, “I like this life, the outside, the manual labor. I love it 90% of the time, but the reality is if you have livestock, you’ll also have dead stock. You deal with tragedy. It’s real life here on the farm.”
The two raise Heritage hogs on the 3-year-old farm located about 45 minutes northwest of Little Rock, 20 minutes from Conway, and 5 minutes from their home. Heck, I even got to see the porch swing the farm was named after. Aaron is a lover of all food, while Holly was a 20-year vegetarian who loosened her stance just a bit. Raising pigs has that effect.
“I’m fine with eating pigs that have had this life,” says Holly.
She calls Pork Swing Farms a farmette, a new term to me, but one I like. Frankly, the diminutive term is rather fitting for the small operation. The animals are separated into nine one-acre areas, with 10-15 animals per area (in which they rotate regularly). In addition to grazing, the pigs love chowing down on foods like acorns, pumpkins, and daikon radishes. They look happy, and so does Holly. I can tell she is in her element and enjoys the tough job of maintaining a farm.
Aaron mans the commercial kitchen back in Little Rock. It is where he makes items like pickles, pimento cheese, pecans, and some of the specialty sausages which are sold online and at the farmers’ markets. In addition, folks can purchase farm fresh eggs (yes, they also raise chickens), along with a variety of cuts and offerings of pork products, including pork fat, chorizo, ham, ribs, sausages, chops, and roasts. There’s even a pork share, where you can purchase a ¼ or ½ of a hog. Give Porch Swings Farms a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Visiting the farm was a nice reminder of the time, effort, and passion it takes to not only raise animals the right way, but also the dedication required to churn out a quality product time and again.
Back to the kitchen for me. I have some work to do. That chorizo is calling my name.
Did You Know?
Free Saturday delivery within a 40-mile radius of the farm. Or a farm pickup (293 Sunshine Farm Road in Bigelow). Ship frozen items anywhere in the U.S.
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