Market Musings Blog

Local Profile: Pastures A Plenty


Pastures A Plenty is third generation family-owned-and-operated by the VanDerPols.

Pasture-to-Plate Pork

Pastures A Plenty in Kerkhoven, Minn., is decidedly different. This mutigenerational family-owned-and-operated farmstead takes a hands-on approach, focusing on attention to detail. For over three decades, the VanDerPol family has shown strong commitment to the environment, their community, and long-term farm sustainability. They raise Berkshire, Duroc, and Chester White heritage hog breeds that are primarily pasture-fed and never receive hormones or antibiotics to promote growth. These rugged, hardy breeds love to forage and roam outside and, as a result, produce premium, high-quality pork.

Sound animal husbandry is a key component of Pastures’s sustainable farm operations. Their hogs are free to graze lush perennial grasses throughout the growing season. As the weather turns cold, the hogs’ diet is supplemented as necessary with drug-free grain grown on the farm. Gestating sows are fed in spacious individual feeding stalls, ensuring the VanDerPols remain in close contact with their herd. This allows for direct oversight of animal well-being and the farmers’ ability to detect and prevent any oncoming health issues firsthand. In stark contrast, a majority of the hog industry currently feeds gestating sows by computer, either in the context of large groups or tight individual confinement.

In addition to humane animal husbandry, Pastures A Plenty implements holistic management practices that enable every aspect of the farm business to work harmoniously. The farm’s environmentally responsible cropping rotation maximizes use of perennial forage feeds, allowing livestock to closely mimic their natural eating behaviors. The growth of perennial plants like alfalfa and hay assists in addressing climate change by capturing atmospheric carbon and sequestering it in the soil. When livestock are housed indoors during winter, manure and hay bedding are retained, mixed and returned to the farm’s cropland in the spring, acting as a natural fertilizer. This closed-loop cycle retains renewable materials on-site, composts them and recycles their rich nutrients back into the soil.

Pastures A Plenty not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Our co-op’s close relationship with them ensures the shortest distance of sustainably-raised local pork from pasture-to-plate. You’ll find a number of their fresh pork cuts in our Meat & Seafood department, just in time for your holiday gatherings.

Filed under: Local Meat & Seafood