About Parks Pasture Pork

Darrell Parks

Farmer for Parks Pasture Pork

Location of Parks Pasture Pork

Manhattan, KS (5 miles from People's Grocery Cooperative)

Are you open to visits or tours?

Please share a brief synopsis of the history of your farm.
My grandfather started farming here in the 1880’s. My father and uncle continued farming the land and had a vegetable market in the 1940’s. After moving to a new home (but still farming the same land), my father concentrated on raising kids, pigs, watermelons, and cantaloupes.

Pork at Parks Pasture Pork

What animals do you raise?

Which, if any, organic certification does your farm have? If none, do you use organic or conventional practices?
We are certified organic on all the crops. The pork I bring to People’s Grocery is not organic because it does not go through a certified plant to be slaughtered and some added ingredients are not organic. 

Which chemicals (antibiotics, de-wormer, hormones, etc.) do you use? How often?
I use no chemicals except antibiotics when a pig is sick, which is rare. If it is given a shot it is sold to the conventional market or auction barn.

Describe the type of grazing system you employ. (For example, do you rotate your pastures/rangeland? Do you use fertilizer or plant seeds for forage?)
I do farrow (when the sows have pigs) on a planted mixed pasture, but also farrow on some paddocks of junk grass which handles the hog tendency to just root as well or better.     

When supplementing your feed, what type of feed do you use? Do you make an effort to avoid GMOs?
There are no GMOs in any of my feedstuffs. It is not allowed in organic production. Non GMO soybeans that I or other organic producers grow are made into soybean meal at a certified organic plant in DuBois Nebraska, which provides protein. 

Do you feed your animals vitamins and/or use mineral blocks?
I have a certified organic vitamin and mineral premix made by Key Milling that is mixed in the feed rations I make for them. 

Where is your meat processed? What are your slaughtering practices?    
The meat is processed by Frankfort Meat Processing on Clay Center Locker.     

What would you like People’s Grocery Co-Op shoppers to know about your products? What sets you apart?
I believe my pork is a very different product from conventional pork purchased at a regular supermarket. The pigs not only eat organic grains (raised without herbicides or GMO fertilizer), but they also eat grass, weeds, roots, and bugs from the ground. They are not confined in buildings but are given shelter, fresh water, sunshine, and space. Our pigs are not fed any distiller grains or any growth promoters or antibiotics a needed because of how they are raised. 

What vision do you have for the future of your farm and/or the future of food? 
I sell pigs to Organic Valley also, which are sold under the organic prairie label. Many of the young people that work there believe that organic practices can transform agriculture because they do work. But to me, they work only if there can be an influx of creative, innovative people working the land, and this change seems to only work in our society if it is consumer driven, which ultimately boils down to a big education project on all levels. It must come from producers, stores, mass media, universities, and social media computer sites. Everyone must be invested in telling the story, delivering the message. If the small beginnings in the area can grow exponentially then I am very optimistic about my future!