This is the second of hopefully many short profiles to bring light to the great work that small farmers do in their communities to make them better places to live and work, while providing them with great quality food. Contact us at 902-477-1077 or in the comments below if you’d like to write about a local farm that enriches your community!
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Cochrane Family Farm in Upper Stewiacke when I picked up a side of their delicious pork at the end of June. Frank and Lisa Cochrane run a lovely mixed farm that raises heritage breed pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats and sheep, and have begun their second year running a vegetable CSA.
I had met Frank Cochrane at a Seedy Saturday event in Musquodoboit Harbour this spring, where he was selling Nova Scotia-grown seed stock from Hope Seeds. I struck up a conversation with him about his farm and livestock and was especially interested in the fact that he sold weaner piglets for folks wanting to raise their own pigs. (He also sells chicken and turkey chicks). I’ve been processing my own pork for about five years, and was contemplating moving to the next step in truly local pork: raising the pigs along with the help of a friend. We quickly came to our senses, but even though we later decided to not go ahead with raising our own pigs, I kept the Cochrane farm in mind when I was planning my pork purchase this summer.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the farmhouse in Upper Stewiacke was an eclectic combination of goods for sale: there was a section of computer parts and accessories, right next to a wall display of Just Us products like fair trade coffee, sugar and chocolate, and an impressive selection of Speerville Mill products including all kinds of non-traditional flours and other organic pantry items. Another wall was covered in neatly alphabetized packets of Hope Seeds. It can be pretty tough to be a small, organic farmer these days, and the Cochranes diversify by being re-sellers of products they themselves had trouble sourcing locally, (and they also run a computer services business, which explains the computer parts!) As it happened – I had just finished my 25 kg bag of organic Speerville white flour the week before but hadn’t gotten around to ordering another bag through The Grainery here in Halifax. It was such a pleasure to be able to buy it on a whim, along with some organic raisins and a smaller bag of spelt flour.
But what really brought me to the farm was the pork. Like many other pastured pork producers in the province, Frank Cochrane is passionate about giving his animals a good environment to live and grow. Piglets get to live in a large pen with their mothers, and when they’re ready to go outside they get a nice big grassy pen with a sturdy shelter. I sometimes feel like a bit of a caricature for wanting to see how my meat is raised (has anybody else seen the Portlandia sketch about getting credentials on the free-range, LOCAL chicken? Hilarious!) but coming from a part of the prairies where factory farmed pork is really dominant, it remains something that’s important for me. It was great to see big boxes of carrots and other veggies in the barn, ready to feed to the happy pigs.
And the pork itself? Oh, it’s so delicious. But that’s a story for another post!
The Cochrane Family Farm also produces a vegetable CSA, and has a market stand at their farm on Saturday mornings selling their veggies, pork, baked goods, and free range eggs. They also sell fresh chicken and their heritage breed turkey. Check it out if you’re in the area, and you may even get to have a peek of the adorable goats and lambs! So cute!
Yours in food,