PeachFest Spotlight: Jon Jackson & the STAG Vets
Jon Jackson is the founder of STAG Vets, and is providing a whole American Mulefoot pig for PeachFest 2017. The only thing more impressive than his pork is the story of the STAG Vets.
We spoke with Jon ahead of PeachFest. Read below to find out why his pork is so tasty and why his mission is so critical.
TELL US ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FARM:
The farm is called Comfort Farms named after my Ranger buddy CPT Kyle A. Comfort who was killed in combat on May 8, 2010.
Our farm is not an ordinary farm. we are actually an Acute Crisis Veterans Agriculture Center that work with veterans to find their "new normal" by using farming as a conditioning tool.
We raise rare heritage hogs and cross them in boutique fashion to create different blends for our customers. We focus on our red meat hogs with intramuscular fat that looks more like a prime rib eye instead of the white meat that is associated with high production commercial hogs.
Our rare pork and farming program generates funds to help our programs. As vets we pay attention to the best of the breed focusing on small sustainable farming techniques.
WOULD YOU PLEASE SHARE WHICH CHEFS AND RESTAURANTS ARE BUYING WHOLE PIGS FROM YOU?
Chef Kevin Gillipsie bought a whole hog from us and took second place at the Hogs for a Cause event. Chef Brad from Dovetail serves our pork chops.
WHAT BREED STOCK OF HERITAGE BREED PIGS WILL YOU HAVE IN 2017?
Mangalista, Mulefoot, Berkshires and Crosses.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR PIGS? ARE THEY FINISHED ON ANYTHING SPECIAL?
Our hogs are bushed raised in a privet forest. They forage naturally and we provide a constant supply of fresh vegetables from the farm. In addition, we feed them day old bread from the local bakery.
The season will determine what veggies they are eating. This time of the year our hogs are heavy on radish, purple top turnips and Japanese egg Turnips.
WHAT ARE THE OUTDOOR ELEMENTS NATURAL TO THE ANIMALS ROUTINE?
All of our hogs are bush raised with plenty of mud wallow. As a hog hunter, I create the same environment you will find out in the wild: the pens have natural privet, oak trees and hickory.
We also planted fruit trees like figs, pears, plums and pomegranate that will be available in a few years to finish them off.
DO YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL MARKETS YOU ARE SERVICING OR TRYING TO OPEN?
One day, it's our hope to create a processing center that small farmers can have access to. It's our service as vets to continue to help our community. We would love to create a path for homeless vets to get healthy and then give back by creating value added products that can give chefs the edge.
It's all about service for us. One day we will get there.
For more information about the STAG Vets, visit http://stagvetsinc.org