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Where Does Your Pork Come From?

Where Does Your Pork Come From?

You know your doctor, your lawyer and your accountant, but do you know the person who grows your vegetables or raises the animals that provide your meat? 

If you bashfully answered 'no' to the above question, then it's time we changed that!

My name's Julia Smith and I am a BC farmer who raises pigs to make the pasture-raised pork you're buying from I believe you should have strong relationships with the people who provide your food, so allow me to introduce myself and Blue Sky Ranch, a 21-acre pig farm in Merritt, BC. 

Blue Sky Ranch:
Blue Sky Ranch started out as a 1/4 acre urban farm named "Urban Digs" in the heart of Vancouver. From there, we grew to an acre in Richmond, then to 3 acres in Burnaby where we discovered our passion for pasture-raised pigs. Raising pigs in Burnaby was great in the summer but pretty miserable in the winter and soon we realized that we needed a lot more land and a lot less rain. So we finally settled down on 21 acres in the Nicola Valley, south-west of Merritt in the beautiful rolling foothills of the Coquihalla mountain range. We are completely off the grid and working hard to raise our animals in a way that is good for the land and good for our pigs. Our pastures are completely herbicide, pesticide, chemical fertilizer and biosolid free. 

Our Pigs:
Our pigs are a mix of heritage breeds, mostly berkshire, large black, tamworth and duroc. We keep around 10 sows and 2 boars and raise about 200 market hogs a year. We strive to provide an environment for our animals that meets both their unique physiological and emotional needs. For pigs, that means having plenty of space, soil to root and forage in, social groups, good food and fresh water, shade and mud wallows during hot days and shelter and bedding to snuggle in during colder ones.

We do not use any sort of confinement systems found in conventional farming operations. Our pigs live entirely out on pasture except for when our sows are farrowing (giving birth) when we move them into a large, comfortable stall in the barn where she stays with her piglets until they are old enough to go outside. This is in stark contrast to how most sows live.

Our pigs are on a diet of non-GMO whole grains, whey from a local organic cheesemaker, whatever fruits and veggies we can get our hands on, whatever they find in the pasture in season and hay in the winter. Our pigs are highly social and friendly which is a great indication that they are happy, healthy and getting what they need. 

It’s been a year since we moved from the city to the country. Coming to the Nicola Valley was a great move for us but admittedly came with some unique challenges. We were having trouble getting our pigs butchered reliably (a very common problem for small-scale producers like us), being off-grid makes storage an issue as running big freezers on solar power is tricky, and delivering our meat could be downright dangerous on the Coquihalla highway in the winter. We were getting frustrated and discouraged so when we connected with the folks at Meatme, we were absolutely thrilled! They now help by getting our pork from the farm to our customers, and we can focus on what we love – raising happy, healthy pigs!

Julia Smith, Farmer at Blue Sky Ranch
Merritt, British Columbia

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