In VA’s Shenandoah Valley, you’ll find Autumn Olive Farms, an artisan family farm founded in 2005 by Clay and Linda Trainum. Their goal was to make their family farm productive again by using goats and pigs to return the land to its natural state and produce high-quality meat. They began by rotating their Boer Bok goats on pasture with portable electric fencing to control invasive plants and fertilize the soil. They do the same with their hogs to this day, raising world-class, award-winning, heritage breed pigs from farrow to finish. Their animals are born on the farm and spend their lives on pasture and in the woodlands beneath the gaze of Blue Ridge Mountains. AOF’s sustainable practices and dedication ultimately result in fantastic products we truly love featuring in our Protein bags.
Heritage breeds existed long before the advent of industrial farming, and you can think of them as the animal equivalent of heirloom produce. While modern, commodity breeds of livestock emphasize fast, big growth, heritage breeds are prized for their unique characteristics, hardiness, and the exceptional culinary qualities of their meat which is only further enhanced by the excellent quality and variety of forage in their diet. Forested pork has been shown to have superior taste and higher quantities of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins than conventional pork.
The Trainums began working with their friends and neighbors the Pattersons to raise registered English Berkshire pigs in 2011. The Pattersons have been farming for generations and their grandfather raised Registered Berkshires on their land in the 1920s. Today, AOF also raises unique Ossabaw Island Hogs, descended from a Spanish breed that developed remotely off the coast of GA, and their signature AOF Berkabaw, a cross between Ossabaw Island and English Berkshire pigs, 6 years in the making. They also raise Jersey/Angus cross and Red Poll cattle known for quality fat, tenderness, and rich taste. AOF’s heritage meats have unparalleled flavor, marbling, and nutritional content beloved by home cooks and restauranteurs alike. You’ll find their meats at Michelin Star eateries like The Inn at Little Washington, The Dabney, and Tail Up Goat.
At AOF they explain sustainability as not a trendy buzzword, but a “commitment to a picture bigger than that of yourself.” They live and breathe this commitment by using methods that will benefit the farm and its caretakers for years to come. Rotational grazing of pigs and cattle stimulates the growth of grassland, culling invasive species and enriching the environment for native plants and grasses to grow. Foresting pigs puts them to work! While enjoying acorns, nuts, berries, and many more treats, they break down rotting logs, dig up roots, aerate the soil with their hooves, and fertilize it with manure. The pigs’ presence in the woodland helps encourage habitat, leading to greater biodiversity and helping to sequester carbon, helping to offset climate change.
The farmers at AOF tend their animals with the utmost care, and their dedication is reflected in the vibrant health and good temperament of their animals. They are against all forms of animal abuse and treat animals with respect during breeding, farrowing, transport, processing, and delivery.
Here’s a video of their pigs in the forest, living as natured intended.