It’s officially March 1st which here in the Midwest means NATIONAL PIG DAY!
Growing up in Michigan, I had an elderly uncle who kept a potbelly pig named “Dog” as an indoor pet, and I have been asking for one ever since. So of course I was ecstatic to spotlight Michigan pig farmers, and after interacting with Jill Johnson, one of the owners of Crane Dance Farm, I’m even more convinced I need one of my own!
Driven by organics, pasture systems and the understanding of commercial food production, Jill bought Crane Dance Farm in Middleville, MI in 1996 and has never looked back. The farm is the first in Michigan to be certified Animal Welfare Approved, and the owners are committed to working humanely with their animals as well as in harmony with the land. The majority of the animals are bred, birthed (or hatched), raised and processed at Crane Dance to assure quality control in their products.
The days on the farm begin early with the awakening of the farm’s chickens, typically around daybreak, and the owners hit the ground running to utilize every minute of the daylight. As we near the end of the winter season, Jill is spending her days checking and delivering water by tractor to the four different yards of pigs out in the pastures. She also has to occasionally move the pigs, cows, and sheep into the barn during birth when the temperature reaches below 40 degrees. She is looking forward to the warmer, longer days of the animals frolicking in the fields and ending her days as late as 11pm.
Jill’s favorite part of the long days are all the time spent working with the animals and the opportunity to experience birth on a daily basis. The farm owners are energized and feel validation for their hard work by knowing they are providing the very best heirloom products to their loyal customers.
Jill and co-owner Mary Wills do their own marketing and operate a stand at Fulton Street Market every Saturday. They have also just begun to open their picturesque farm to the public on Friday afternoons for customers to purchase pastured pork products, grass-fed beef and lamb, and fresh eggs.
To say Jill is passionate and proud to own a sustainable and regenerative farm here in West Michigan would be a vast understatement. Her energy and enthusiasm radiated throughout our conversations, and I can’t wait to try some their hickory-smoked bacon!
Many farmer’s markets and farms offer local pork product throughout Michigan. One of these pig farms may be right in your county:
- Crane Dance Farm (Middleville)
- Dykhuis Farms (Holland)
- Prichard Farms (North of Lansing)
- Brower Farms (Brown City)
- Melo Farms (Yale)
- Albright Swine Farms (Coldwater)
- Arbuckle Farms (Concord)
- Lubbers Family Farm (Grand Rapids)