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Producer Profile // The Rock Barn in Nelson County, VA

The Rock Barn is Nelson County’s renowned custom pork butchery. Ben Thompson, a former United States Navy cook aboard the USS Hampton, is the chef-butcher-owner of the Rock Barn. While deployed, Benjamin was exposed to cuisine from everywhere from the North Pole to the Mediterranean and he learned invaluable lessons on how food creates morale and fellowship. He now shares these lessons and experiences through his craft butchery where respect for people and animals is key and the highest quality product and workmanship is celebrated.

Thompson created The Rock Barn to be a whole hog butcher that focuses on the craft of butchery by being good representatives of the animals that they process and the farmers who raised them. The Rock Barn hopes to strengthen the connection between the things we eat and the fields from which they come by showing consumers their practices and hopefully getting consumers to question the sources of other foods in their lives. Their mission is to create food that honestly expresses local flavor. They try to keep foods as close to their heritage as possible.

The Rock Barn has a four-man crew and they all follow the guiding principle that a respectful butcher finds uses for the entire pig. It helps when you connect with the living creature that was sacrificed knowing that nothing will go to waste. Respect for the materials, for the art, is paramount. And using every part of the animal is a keystone of that philosophy.

Many of the hogs used by The Rock Barn come from Timbercreek Farm in Charlottesville—Rock Barn’s primary source, although they do buy from other farmers. The hogs are slaughtered just a short distance away at T&E Meats in Harrisonburg – co-owned by the famous “Beyond Organic” Farmer Joel Salatin.

The Rock Barn seeks to offer an alternative to the factory farm, commodity slaughterhouse, and plastic wrapper grocery chain system that disconnects the consumer with the pork chop with the pig. It is their mission to bring back some of the traditional meat culture that factory farms are unable to mass produce and therefore, most American’s have learned to live without. Above all, they believe that food is fundamentally important, and worth defending. Here, Here!

To learn more about The Rock Barn visit their website or check out this informative Article by Natalie Ermann Russell from Edible Blue Ridge.

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