Baker Farms’ Fresh Pork
Baker Farms’ Fresh Pork
Located in Mt. Jackson, Virginia. Baker Farms has an incredible fanbase and following. Owner Steve Baker has built up his facility over the years but has been farming his entire life. Humble, down-to-earth, and possibly the kindest farmer you’ll meet, Steve Baker is a wonder to chat with, but his bestselling pork truly speaks volumes. Want to sample the product for yourself? Visit them at the address below, or call at (540) 477-3550.
1341 Conicville Road
Mt. Jackson, VA 22842
Know Your Farmer
Steve Baker has been farming his whole life and running Baker Farms for the past 20 years. The kindest, most humble farmer you’ll meet, Baker loves telling the story of how present-day Baker Farms came to be, taking special pride in having been able to install his very own processing plant. A hard worker and quick thinker, Baker has managed to not only keep Baker Farms alive, but he’s also added avenues for it to continue to grow by adding his very own processing entity to the farm.
On top of his busy tasks of running a farm, Steve also acts as a local voice for farmers and the agriculture industry in the Shenandoah Valley.
“I’m on the Board of supervisors at Shenandoah County, and that takes up a fair amount of time. But the reason I’m on the board and the reason I will run for reelection again this fall is for the future of this county and the future of agriculture. Agriculture is so important here in the Valley… the Valley’s the breadbasket of the state of Virginia for agriculture. Rockingham is number one in Ag Sales, Augusta is number two, Page is four, and Shenandoah is five… so it’s a whole lot. Agricultural is one of the largest industries in Shenandoah County, and it is worth saving. We’ve got to put a plan in place to preserve our farmland because if we don’t have farmland, we don’t need farmers. Yeah. It’s a real challenge to be able to maintain an agricultural entity in today’s economic times. We’ve got to do everything we can to help it be sustainable.”
Your beginnings in farming…
Q: How did you get into pig farming?
Steve has been handling pigs since he was eight years old, starting with the 4H project where he would take a pig to the county fair each year.
“That was during my younger years. When I got up into high school, that’s when we had some mother sows producing pigs… we had maybe as many as 10 production females. At that time, I was looking at going off to a four year or two-year college, and I decided I wanted to stay with the farming-end of it, so I went to community college. Along the way, I met some dear friends in the hog business and I thought to myself ‘I want to do what they’re doing.’” From there, Steve decided to start building his operation.
Q: What does your average day look like?
“[I] usually wake up at about five o’clock and there’s always office work to do or things to do beforehand. My main job is to just manage this whole business.”
Q: How do you feel about locally sourced products?
“I wish I was a younger person, 20 years younger, and had the opportunity we have now to move forward. I see that the young generation are the ones that are kind of making this change, or are committed to this; it’s a breath of fresh air. The thing about it is when I go to the farmers’ markets, not only are they talking to the one selling the product, they’re talking about the one that’s producing the product; the one who’s processed the product. What we’re doing is we’re able to tell the story of how we get from point A to point B. It’s refreshing. It’s encouraging.”
Know the product
Breeds: Naturally bred purebreds (Hampshire, Yorkshire, Durocs), with a few heritage breeds.
“I’m old school. I produce hogs the old fashioned way. They’re naturally bred, we do not do any AI. All of our hogs are outdoors, basically. On our type of land, we cannot have a whole bunch of them out on dirt lots, or else it’s just going to end up in a disaster. On the type of soil we have — if they root it up and you get a hard rain… Guess what? It all washes away.
We hear the term “pasture pork” that people like to look at a couple of pigs running around on nice green pastures, but it’s not practical [for us]. All of our hogs are outdoors, under different types of structures, but they are happy and produced in a humane way. It’s very labor-intensive. Most of the pigs that are produced today in this country are under roof… they never see sunshine until the day they go to slaughter. I like to think that the types of pigs we produce are a quality product, and with marketing it now for over 20 years, we have a great customer base.”