Ginger’s Farm in Eaton hopes to continue sustainable production style
To become a shareholder in Ginger’s Farm, call Matt Varoz at (970) 631-3631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The shareholder season is from June 1 through Oct. 31. Full shares cost $500.
» A full share is two paper bags of produce per week.
» A half share is one paper bag of produce per week.
» The bags of produce can include any of the following: beans, beets, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, kale, peas, carrots, herbs, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, Swiss chard and turnips. For a discounted price, members also can buy free–range chicken eggs and individual cuts of heritage pork.
Every time Matt Varoz steps out his front door, the chickens come running, but that’s because they know who has the food.
Varoz, nicknamed “Dr. Doolittle” by friends and family, owns Ginger’s Farm, 12037 Weld County Road 74, Eaton, Colo. He is concerned with giving his farm animals the best quality of life possible, so he lets the chickens roam free and the Red Wattle pigs he raises have free reign of the field.
Varoz’s 10-acre farm is a Community Supported Agriculture operation. He offers shares of the farm for $500, and each shareholder gets two bags of produce every week for the 20-week season.
Ginger’s Farm provides for its shareholders everything from fresh fruits and veggies to free-range eggs to cuts of heritage pork.
Fees are paid upfront, which help him with overhead.
“In return, they’re getting fresh produce all season long,” Varoz said.
A half share can be purchased, and Varoz is working with nonprofits so shares can be bought and donated to needy families.
Anyone can come to the farm to see how it works, something Varoz thinks is important.
“It’s not just an aisle-five-has-the-vegetables thing,” he said. “They can come out and tour the farm.”
When he says farm, though, he means his backyard, where everything is raised and produced — except the pigs, which roam on land a few miles away.
The farm name comes from his first pig, Ginger, a Kune Kune breed pig who is more of a pet than a farm animal at this point.
He started the farm about two years ago, and has been running everything almost single-handed since. He expanded with two greenhouses this year to produce more.
He said he will grow veggies (“Everything but corn,” he said) in the two new greenhouses. Varoz also has a small orchard behind his house, which yields raspberries, peaches, cherries, plums and apples. Four beehives produce his home-raised honey.
Varoz is focused on keeping the farm sustainable.
“We want to be able to provide sustainable food for other people,” he said.
Most important, though, Varoz wants to treat his animals humanely. He thinks his free-roaming heritage breed pigs yield better meat than a commercially raised pig. Plus, it allows their personalities to shine through, he said.
“Their personality is kind of like a dog,” he said. “We let Ginger out and she follows us around.”
At any given point, Varoz can be raising about 100 pigs though his main group is 11 sows and one boar. They have litters of five to 14 piglets, which are then raised and slaughtered for meat. But just because they are meat animals doesn’t mean they can’t have a good life.
“Anymore, the commercial mindset is that we have so many square feet per pig and we can turn that over twice a year,” Varoz said. “But they don’t ever think of the quality of life of the animal.”
Varoz’s pigs roam in a big enclosure, which has grass for them to eat. They are moved to a new enclosure with fresh grass about once a week. This way the grass grows back on the ground they left.
When they are moved, Varoz said he just opens up the trailer and let’s them make their way in. The same is true when they go to Innovative Foods in Evans to be slaughtered.
“We don’t pressure them to do anything they don’t want to do,” he said. “We do it as humanely as possible for the meat.”
Varoz said keeping pigs in a concrete building makes them mean and also affects their health.
“Pigs in commercial settings are heavily medicated because they’re sick all the time,” he said. “If I have a sick animal I will treat it but I don’t have to treat them because they’re healthy animals.”
Varoz puts up huts and gives them straw for the harsher weather, but other than that he allows them to live a normal pig life.
“They get to be pigs,” he said. “We get in this mindset of following what other people are doing when what we were doing in the past was easier. If you leave nature alone, nature knows what to do.”
Varoz believes his humane way of raising pigs could be duplicated the same in the corporate world to produce 10 to 20 times as much product.
Many corporate entities might argue it is more efficient to keep the pigs in small pens, for feeding and space purposes, but Varoz disagrees.
“You’re saving the space that the particular animal is one but you have hundreds of acres that have to be set aside for a confinement-setting pig house,” he said.
Plus, he said, it’s healthier, better for the environment and it’s easier on the animals to raise them free.
“It’s been done this way for generation and generations,” he said. “People think that we’re progressing but we’re really going backward.” ❖
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