Poaka’s Free Range Pig Farm is based at Aylesbury, just west of Christchurch in Canterbury, New Zealand. We operate a 100 acre farm, supplemented by 25 acres of sweet Chestnut Orchard. This is where Poaka farms all of our Tamworth, Berkshire and Wessex saddleback free range, heritage breed pork, that we use in all of our products.
In this stunning setting, our pigs are now accompanied by their traditional “terroir” friends: pheasants, quail, hares, pukeko and rabbits. Wine has popularised the word “terroir”, or “place”. And as with all the best things, “place” matters.
We have literally thousands of trees on the farm so our pigs benefit from summer shade, and as year round, outdoor grazers, an extensive network shelterbelts mean the worst of the winter winds are kept at bay. We are continually planting more trees and over the past 2 years we have planted over 1000 oak trees. Not only will these oak trees provide shelter and shade, in a few years time they will also provide a valuable source of acorns as forage for our pigs!
Poaka works hard to operate using sustainable methods. Our free range pig farm is not certified organic, however we do farm using organic methods. We do not use synthetic herbicides on the farm and we do not use synthetic/chemical drenches or supplements on our pigs. Becoming a fully certified organic pork producer in the future is something we are working towards.
As we are farming as sustainability as possible, we have developed our herd of pigs based on Tamworth, Berkshire and Wessex saddleback heritage breeds. This is because they are very healthy, hardy breeds. They thrive living completely outdoors year round, with pasture based foraging able to make up a large part of their diet. Their native ability to grow and put on condition through foraging while living completely outdoors year round makes them ideal for finishing on locally foraged acorns and sweet chestnuts harvested from our Sweet Chestnut Orchard during the autumn.
All of our free range pigs are finished with acorns and sweet chestnuts making up a large part of their diet. This is part of the Poaka secret to our mouth watering products made with Poaka free range pork! Our main herd of pigs is the Tamworth breed of which it is reported that there are only 40 breeding sows in New Zealand. So these are a very rare breed indeed. However we are doing our part in keeping this amazing breed alive and we currently have 15 Tamworth sows and 2 stunning Tamworth boars.
Feeding and Flavour, Pigs are what they eat!
Pigs (the pork) are possibly the best example of “you are what you eat”. The flavours of their diet are subtly expressed in their meat and fat like no other animal. To get the absolute best pork, feeding the pigs the right food is so important. This is why we feed all our finishing our pigs a diet of acorns, sweet chestnuts and they are able to forage on a diverse range of pasture. This diet along with the heritage breeds and our sustainable free range farming results in pork with superior flavour, juiciness and tenderness. The perfect foundation for our range of handcrafted Finocchiona and Genoa salami, dry cured bacon, dry cured Coppa, Lomo, Prosciutto, Culatello Salumi/charcuterie and fresh sausages.
Poaka delivers what you find in some of the best international products. Amazing mouth feel and flavour – Melt in your Mouth Moments that you will remember
While our heritage breed pigs are excellent foragers, we do supplement their forage diet with our own special blend of pig feed. We mill and mix this supplementary feed ourselves on the farm with our own equipment. This allows us to know exactly what we are feeding our free range pigs. We can also specifically formulate our pig feed to our own unique recipes. We source all our feed ingredients locally and the bulk comes from our crop farming next door neighbour, so a very low carbon footprint. As with everything else we do, this adds to the unique Poaka flavour.
The best free range pork begins with doing the basics right
Exceptional flavour takes time – time in the pasture, time curing and time in the maturing chamber. To make the world’s best salumi / charcuterie, you have to start with the best raw materials. However the only way to get that has been to set up our own free range farming supply chain from scratch. Poaka raises only heritage pigs focusing on Tamworth, Berkshire and Wessex saddleback breeds. These pig genetics were traditionally developed for flavour, natural robustness, minimal intervention, and their ability to thrive while foraging on outdoor pasture.
Our stock is selected for health and vigour and can thrive on our pasture based system. We continue to experiment with different pasture mixes, “…you are what you eat…” and that is no different for our free range Tamworth’s, Berkshires and Wessex saddleback pigs.
Part of our challenge and self-imposed limit to our growth is that we demand that all Poaka product comes from our own farm. Pasture grown, sustainably and ethically managed, acorn and sweet chestnut finished free range pig herd, bred and raised by us.
Our difference results from both Nature (our choice to use low yielding, high flavour heritage pork genetics) and Nurture (our pasture based, acorn and sweet chestnut finished product) and that’s really hard to do.
Now we’re bringing you the fruits of a long journey. It was once said “…Good things take time…”, and that is very true with Poaka and our range of true artisan salami, dry cured pork, dry cured bacon and sausage products.