Known for its heritage hogs and livestock, Peculiar Pig is a fifth generation Dorchester farm built on a love of the land and a love of the animals who live there. According to Marvin Ross, owner and farmer, “pigs have always been my favorite animal. I can’t explain to you why that is, it just is. They have their own personalities just like people; some are grumpy, some are happy.”
Having grown up across the road from the farm, Ross was shown farming from a young age by his grandfather, Thomas Henry Ross. The original farm was more than 100 acres in Dorchester County, S.C. After school and on weekends he was always there. Today the farm is about 12 acres, used for raising heritage pigs, cows, ducks, geese, chickens and goats.
After attending college at Charleston Southern University and earning a degree in business administration, Ross returned to his roots. “I learned a strong work ethic growing up around the farm and I wanted to pass that on to my kids.”
The quality of the pork from Peculiar Pig Farm is known in South Carolina and favored by many restaurants and residents. That high quality is determined by the flavor profile which is enhanced because the pigs roam freely, eat acorns that fall from the trees and are given a feed that is all natural from neighboring farms made of heirloom grains, grown locally. Because the farm has always been a “woodlot farm” distinguished by the rotation of the livestock and pigs into various paddocks, Ross kept the method alive.
The secret to the flavor, he explains, is slower growing, allowing the piglets to suckle the full natural timeframe of eight weeks. There are no antibiotics or other additives in the feed and water supply and no pesticides on the farm, which goes a long way to enhancing the meat quality in its original form, with the fat content that brings out the best flavor. Because the animals are rotated onto different lots, it gives the land time to rest, as well as be aerated with cover crops.
Peculier Pig supplies whole hogs, chops, ribs and bacon throughout the region from Charleston to St. Augustine to Asheville, N.C. The pork products are sold in local farmers markets like Sea Island Farmer’s Market, the Veggie Bin in downtown Charleston, Fresh Future Farms, and Low Country Street Grocery. Some of the Charleston restaurants that are regular customers are Lenoir Charleston, Kultura, Butcher & Bee, Slice Pizza, Palmirel BBQ, and Weltons Tiny Bake Shop, to name just a few. The low-country purveyors Marvin works with are Counter Cheesemongers, Fresh Forage Foods, Lowland Farms, Kindlewood Farm and Wishbone Heritage Farms.
The catering arm of Peculiar Pig is also in high demand for whole hog bbq, either cooked on site with a mobile pit or off site, served with macaroni and cheese and hash and rice, which is rice with a sweet tangy meat sauce.
According to Ross, the keys to his success are his devotion to the animals and the availability of neighboring farm products he uses. “We make an effort to support each other and my focus is to help create jobs and value by working with local farmers,” says Ross.The farmers he does business with affords a way of supporting the community, he notes, “in order to keep a sustainable food supply for the future.”
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