Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 by Lola

Worden Hill Farm Raises Pigs on Pasture, Peaches and Whey

Wolfgang Ortloff delivered six half pigs to Portland today. Two halves went to Clark Lewis, one half went to Ciao Vito Restaurant, two more were taken to Laurelhurst Market—where they will be butchered and then picked up by individuals for cooking at home—and the final half went to John Zenger of The Black Rabbit Restaurant in Troutdale, Oregon. The Black Rabbit, which is part of McMenamins Edgefield Hotel, is perhaps the most upscale of the whopping 60 McMenamins restaurants and pubs throughout Oregon and Washington.

Wolfgang and his wife Susan run 12 1/2-acre Worden Hill Farm in the Dundee Hills, where they raise Berkshire and Duroc pigs. This past summer, the Ortloffs fed their piglets a steady diet of peaches at the request of Portland restaurant Olympic Provisions, whose chefs were curious to see how “peach-finished pork” would taste when it became salami. Wolfgang was more than happy to oblige, especially because their neighbors Trevor and Susan Baird run Baird Family Orchards in Dayton. This was a perfect use for the peaches that don’t make the grade to be sold at farmers markets.

When fall arrives, the Ortloffs feed the drove fallen apples and hazelnuts from nearby orchards. Zenger spied Worden Hill’s listing for hazelnut-fed pastured pork in the FoodHub Marketplace, and wanted to see how his kitchen would handle a whole half pig, so to speak. He and the Ortloffs are excited to see how their relationship will unfold.

Among Worden Hill’s other restaurant customers, who buy pigs by the whole and half animal, are Paley’s Place, Trebol, and Clyde Common in Portland, and Farm to Fork in Dundee. Wolfgang jokes that the chefs use every single part – well, except a few. Several have insisted that they receive the feet, which they claim makes the best stock.

Recently, Briar Rose Creamery, which is building a creamery just above the Worden Hill property, has been bringing down buckets of the whey left over from making goat’s milk cheese. Offering the sounder (another name for a pig herd) leftover whey from cheese making follows in the tradition of Parma ham, a specialty of the Parma region of Italy, where the pigs eat the scraps from making Parmesan cheese.

The Ortloffs pigs are processed at Dayton Meat Co., just down the road.

Currently, a big portion of the Ortloff’s customer base are home cooks who want to know the provenance of the meat that they eat and have a freezer to accommodate dozens of chops and roasts.

Wolfgang, who grew up in Germany, recalls that his family purchased whole animals every year. “Like many families, we would buy a pig from a nearby farmer, and then hire a butcher for the day. I guess the direct translation would be ‘house slaughtering.’ ” He smiles shyly. “He would come to your house in the winter, break down the animal, make sausages and smoked ham.”

Wolfgang is glad that here in Oregon he and Susan are able to reconnect eaters to the farm and remind them that the meat they eat comes from animals.

Worden Hill Farm is looking for a few more restaurant customers who want a consistent supply of whole and half animals that they will break down themselves, and for private clients who can have their half custom-butchered. Learn more about Worden Hill on their FoodHub profile here. Do you live near Dundee and have food for the pigs? Let Wolfgang know! Are you looking to purchase very local animals—and explore your own curiosity about how a certain feed might influence meat flavor? Browse FoodHub members by distance or search by product to find farmers and ranchers near you. You might find the partner you’re looking for.

One Response to “Worden Hill Farm Raises Pigs on Pasture, Peaches and Whey”

  1. Enjoyed reading about your farm. I am also a free range hog grower. Maybe you can help me? We specialize in Berkshires and noticed you also raise them. We are seeking a source of some additional Berkshire piglets to grow out as our demand has been more than our production. Thank You! Gary