Lanette and Larry Stec raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) pigs outdoors on pasture at Erstwhile Farm in Columbus, Nebraska.
Lanette and Larry both grew up on conventional farms with a desire to do something different. As adults, they returned to farming, and did so by transitioning Larry’s family’s farm to a pasture-based system.
Today, Lanette and Larry raise pigs outdoors with organic feed and grow all-organic crops, keeping some land out of production each year to provide for rotational grazing of the animals. Their care of the flat, sandy land that has been in the family for three generations isn’t limited to the sustainable agriculture they practice. Their conservation efforts also include planting and protection of 1,000s of trees and other native vegetation. “We want to leave something for the next generation, something that is environmentally ready for them to use. We want to leave this land better than we found it,” says Lanette of their practices. “We try to be good stewards of the gifts we have.”
As raising their pigs on pasture has always been central to the way Lanette and Larry farm, they’ve been diligent in their breeding program to select for traits that allow their pigs to thrive outdoors. “We don’t have one particular breed, but we farrow all year long, only bringing in boars. This ensures that all of our pigs are really adept to living outdoors and doing well the way we farm,” Lanette notes. When asked what the most important aspect of their husbandry practices are, she was quick to note that the daily contact that she has with her animals makes all the difference: “You get to know them, and they get to know you, too. Recently, we moved the pigs to a new field full of triticale and field peas. One of the sows came up to me with a mouthful of the fresh pasture mix and laid it down at my feet. It’s that type of communication that really proves to me that what we’re doing is different, and better.”
Lanette and Larry pursued Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification to add more transparency for their customers and prove that they’re farming the way that they say they are. “It’s a part of all the little steps we’ve been taking to let people know that we care,” Lanette explains.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork from Erstwhile Farm is available through Open Harvest co-op, the Nebraska Food Cooperative and direct from the farm. For more information, visit erstwhilefarm.com and find them on Facebook.