The Farm: 40 acre family farm in King County, WA
What They Seed:
Forest-raised, Animal Welfare Approved, 100% Berkshire Pork for direct-to-consumer sales
Where You Can Find Them:
Online: Reservations for half or whole (standard or jumbo) shares available throughout the year on a first-come, first-serve basis www.redfeatherfarm.org
Nate and Janya of Redfeather Farm are passionate about farming and family: raising happy, healthy children and heritage breed hogs.
Neither Nate nor his wife Janya were born into the agricultural world. Nate is a lifelong Washingtonian, has a law degree and was at a global firm for 7+ years. Janya has been in Washington for over 20 years and has a background in small business management.
They were living in Seattle, leading corporate lives, but felt a pull to the country, wanting some space for their three rescue border collies and a slower paced life to raise a family. In 2007, after much searching, they bought forty acres near Duvall, a small town about 25 miles Northeast of Seattle. For the first five years, their border collies, two children and getting the homesite set up took most of their energy. When the time felt right to expand, Nate and Janya started with three Border Cheviot ewes, to start raising their own lamb and give the border collies a chance to work. Redfeather Farm, named after their first rescued border collie, Emmy, and her long red feathery hair, was born. Berkshire hogs were added the following year. Soon it became apparent that the hogs were thriving and happy. They listened to the land and their animals and found their true passion in breeding and raising pigs. Redfeather Farm now raises hogs exclusively and became the first and only Animal Welfare Approved hog farm in King County in 2014.
Nate has since left his big law firm to go into private practice to serve an under-served agricultural community and to dedicate more time to family and farming, and to coach Little League. Janya is passionate about their business, writing, raising spanky little piglets and being a baseball mom. She is working on a book of recipes and rearing livestock and learning more about food accessibility issues.
In just two years Redfeather Farm has grown from four Heritage Berkshire hogs to now over thirty on the ground. The hogs live a stress-free life in the woods and on pasture, where they find plenty of roots, dirt and shade. Their farming practices are simple and they strive to be responsible stewards of the land and the animals. Redfeather Farm practices rotational grazing to minimize impact and support optimal health. Once weaned, the pigs are raised on non-GMO, corn-free, soy-free diet along with organic veggies from local farms.
Nate and Janya sell direct to the consumer and get a lot of gratification out of the positive feedback they receive. They love to nourish people with a product they’ve raised with such love and admiration. One of their main principles is getting attached to their animals not in spite of the fact that they’re being raised for meat, but BECAUSE they are being raised for meat. The market hogs live a short life (5 – 7 months) and make the ultimate sacrifice in order to feed people, so they name them and fill their days with belly rubs, treats, back scratches and everything they need to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled life. Nate and Janya welcome their customers to come and see the farm; they do small tours by appointment during the summer.
Janya is a member of Female Farmer Project. She regards it as a responsibility and an honor to raise these hogs from birth through life. She has learned many lessons from the mother sheep and hogs. She has gained way more than she has given. It is all about unconditional love and nurture. It is a painful and humbling calling to participate in the hogs’ cycle of life. Nate and Janya consider it a privilege to raise these beautiful creatures.
Advice to New Farmers:
Seek out supportive mentors, ask a ton of questions, and go for it. You can be as ready as ready can be, but you have to get started to really learn what will work. The land and animals will guide you and the learning curve will be steep, but keep going. And when you get frustrated, stomp your feet and threaten to quit, but keep going anyway!
“All you need to grow big is good food and birthdays.” -Cal, age 4, Redfeather farmhand
“People ask how we can do this. It is the way of things. Isn’t it so hard? Absolutely.” – Janya Veranth
A Seeder’s Perspective: The First Pig Harvest [LET um EAT, Feb 13, 2015]
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Feature photo credit: Jesse Michener