this week, for the small business series, i speak w eva teague who owns and runs plowshares community farm, a small-scale pig farm in niwot outside of boulder. eva and i have chicago connections and i kept running into her at the boulder farmer’s market where she sells her heritage berkshire pork. it is the best. what eva is doing –raising little pigs outdoors on organic, whole food until they’re big, happy ones and then offering this meat to the public– is so important. if you haven’t been living under a rock then you know about the food crisis going on and you know we definitely need farmers like eva.
jp and ramona and i took a visit out to the farm this summer to say hello to eva and her pigs. she told us all about the production, how she got into it, what her plan for the future are.
|| what is plowshares? ||
Plowshares Community Farm is my farm. Currently we produce pastured Berkshire pork products but we’ll we expanding and diversifying next year to include mixed vegetables and a few other things. It’ll be a huge leap! I think people get confused by the “Community” part of the name, but it basically means that I’ll always be producing for the local community. I don’t want to get so big that I have to sell through Whole Foods and won’t have the chance to meet the people buying my product.
|| how did you get into this? what was your inspiration? ||
I worked on vegetable farms in Boulder for three years before getting my first pigs. I wanted to start my own project, and the people who I worked for at the time were vegetarians so I chose pork in part because it wouldn’t compete with what they were doing. Plus, pigs are fun and funny, and well-raised pork is delicious!
|| what had the process been from conception to execution? ||
When people ask me how I got started I tell them that I bought some baby pigs and figured it out from there. Unlike farming vegetables, you don’t need a lot of equipment like a tractor to start raising pigs or most livestock–although I sure could use a tractor now to manage the 18 acres I’m currently leasing. I think the decision I made early on to raise heritage Berkshires rather than some of the hybrid breeds that are more readily available in this area was really important: I started with a focus on quality that I plan to maintain as I expand the farm.
|| has starting and running this business been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been? ||
I think anyone who’s started a business for the first time has probably had a similar experience: there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know, and then you just have to figure things out: from where to get funding to how to do your books to how to manage the pasture your pigs are on. There are always problems to be solved which means there’s always some challenge to keep me busy!
On a different note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many of my customers seek out my stand at market or even come out to the farm to buy pork in the winter. Their support means so much to me!
|| are you doing this solo or you have other partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand? ||
The business is mine but I’ve had a ton of help along the way, especially from my friend Mo McKenna. You’ll see her most Saturday mornings working with me at the Boulder Farmers’ Market.
|| who, if anyone, has helped w branding/website development/maintenance? ||
I made my own website using a Wix template. I came up with the idea for my logo–the happy pig in a green heart–and painted it on a banner that I hang at market. The digital version of the logo was created by Christopher Smith of “Tiny” (tiny house) documentary fame.
|| when did you start/open for business?||
I got my first baby pigs in March 2011 and started selling pork at the Boulder Farmers’ Market in August 2012.
|| where can your goods be purchased? ||
The best time to buy my pork is Saturdays at the Boulder Farmers’ Market: I bring the whole range of cuts to each market unless I’m out of something. We don’t have a regular storefront at the farm because I work a job in town and am gone a lot of the time, but if coming to the Boulder Market doesn’t work for you then you can contact me and set up a time to meet out at the farm.
|| what new/other businesses are you excited about in denver-area? or would you like to see in denver-area? ||
I’m especially proud of my best friend Jen Anderson-Tarver, who is an amazing home-birth midwife in the Denver area. I can’t imagine anyone else so gentle, knowledgeable, and caring as she is. Check out her practice at www.newleafmidwifery.com.
|| what’s your favorite place for food? ||
I work at a restaurant but try to cook at home when I can. I’m a little out of practice right now, but I hope to get back into the swing of it when I leave my job next spring to work on the farm full-time.
thanks, eva! readers, next time you need some pork, consider contacting eva to buy it directly from the farm. you’ll be supporting an incredibly local company that’s providing the best tasting pork you’ll ever have.
invite all your friends over, especially the friend with the pot belly pig. have it lap up your spilled beer and then frolic with (and head butt) your goats.
the tiny pig (aptly named francis bacon) will also remind you of how that pig roasting under the coals (see photo above) was also once a cute piggly wiggly. this will both be weird and amazing.
teach your daughter to pour beer from a keg,
and she will bring you beer all night long.
don’t forget the ridiculously-large-sized jenga and ice cubes.
this saturday, jp and i are partnering w a local community non-profit, earthlinks, to speak about urban farming, specifically raising goats and chickens in the city. if you’re in denver, saturday morning at 10, stop by and meet lacey and violet and here how we incorporate livestock in to our city living! also, make sure to check out the monthly open house series, community links, that earthlinks puts on. the organization is so unique and a much-needed asset to the five points/north larimer neighborhood and its homeless population.
i’ll be back next week w some posts about our time in nashville, a yummy meal planning helper (and how it’s been encouraging me to cook), and thoughts on two-years-olds and being married for five years. muah!
mornings are simple here: a breakfast of eggs and sometimes cereal and always french press coffee (currently dogwood). most mornings jp takes care of the animals, and usually with ramona putzing about in the yard. but mornings –my favorite mornings– are when the three of us traipse out there together to say hello to violet & lacey, chickens 1, 2, & 3, and the duck couple (one of them now obviously a male).
we pet the ladies. we toss grain. we fill the manger. we collect eggs. we replenish the waters. we sit on the logs and take in the simplicity of it all.