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Know Your Farmer: Standen Acres

Meet Corey Standen of Standen Acres in Alpena! On their 40-acre farm, Corey, his wife, Carrie, and their two kids raise pigs on pasture. Standen Acres use a rotational grazing system to ensure the health of their land and animals. 

Corey didn’t grow up with plans to farm, let alone raise animals. Besides occasionally baling hay and helping in family gardens as a kid, he didn’t have any experience working on a farm. When his kids got involved in the local 4-H program raising pigs, Corey and his family realized it was something they really enjoyed. This spark led Corey to start researching what it would take to start their own operation. In the spring of 2015, the Standens bought their first set of feeder pigs.

Standen Acres pork isn’t like most meat you find at the grocery store. The large majority of meat consumed in the United States is produced in concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. Animals in CAFOs are packed in small indoor areas, often without enough room to move freely. However, pigs at Standen Acres are raised on a pasture and forage for their food every day. The Standens’ thoughtful system creates a healthier pig, which comes through in the taste. Corey said that a lot of people tell him that the pork reminds them of how it used to taste when they were kids—how it should taste. 

Let Pigs be Pigs

So, what is it about the system that creates a healthier pig? To put it simply, Standen Acres allows their pigs to be pigs. The Standens try to foster a system that lets pigs use their instincts and live in their natural habitats. Corey plants his pastures on rotation, spreading different forage crops like oats, barley, peas, and turnips. The pigs have a few days to trample the seed in the ground, then they are moved to a different paddock that is ready to be grazed. The pigs are constantly moving and foraging as “one great big happy family,” as Corey describes them.

Breed is also important to Standen Acres’ system. Most pig breeds raised in large commercial operations have lost the instincts to forage and mother their young. These are key traits for the pigs at Standen Acres. Corey crossed the large black and mulefoot heritage breeds, which both have great foraging and mothering skills. Standen Acres also raises Mangalitsa pigs, which people often refer to as the Kobe beef of pork. These pigs get fuzzy in the winter like a sheep, keeping them warm on Northern Michigan’s chilly winter nights. 

Now that Standen Acres has been operating for several years, the hardest work of starting up the farm is completed. With twenty acres of pasture fenced in, the Standens can focus more on the day-to-day pig management of their farm—like making sure the boars stay out of the pens they don’t belong in! “That’s the fun stuff of farming!” Corey said. 

Find Standen Acres’ Meats

If you want to taste Standen Acres meat for yourself, there are several places to find it. In addition to pork, Standen Acres is starting to sell a little bit of lamb and beef as well. You can stop by the Alpena Farmers Market on Saturday or the Northeast Michigan Regional Farmer Market in Oscoda on Wednesdays to try some of their cuts. Neiman’s Family Market in Alpena has also just started carrying some Standen Acres pork cuts. If you want to get more bang for your buck, you can also contact Standen Acres directly at (989) 657-0811 to order a half or whole pig. Make sure you keep up with @standenacres on Facebook to see what their pigs are up to and where you can find them next!

Julia Linder is the Communications & Events intern for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at events@localdifference.org

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