A new regeneration on the family farm

 In Business

What was once an abandoned farm house and 37 acres of rented fields on Fairgrounds Road has become a model of Regenerative Farming. Hog Wild Farm is now producing top quality pork and beef, and constantly expanding their product range.

When Chris Kornacki and his wife Brandi announced their plan to leave their jobs in Toronto to try farming in Creemore, friends thought they were crazy. Chris was a strength and fitness coach, managing a successful clinic in the city. Brandi is a physiotherapist. Both are keenly interested in nutrition – not just the foods they consume but how those foods are produced.

Kornacki had long had a dream of homesteading. His first farm property purchase was near Mattawa where he farmed each weekend and relied on help from his father to keep things going through the week. By taking a roommate in Toronto he was able to fund the mortgage on the farm. That initial foray whetted his appetite and left him trying to find a way to leave the city to farm full time.

Legalization of cannabis in Ontario in 2018 presented an opportunity. Kornacki, no longer single by then, was granted three micro licenses. He describes himself as “not passionate about cannabis, but grateful for the income it generates” to fund theirregenerative farming enterprise. In 2019, he and Brandi made a leap of faith and left their life in the city behind to become full-time farmers.

The fundamental principle underlying regenerative farming is that the farm is an ecosystem and that soil quality can be improved year over year by nurturing natural soil organisms and forgoing traditional agricultural practices. Kornacki explains that plowing and tilling leave bare soil vulnerable to erosion and baking in the sun. As crops leach nutrients from the soil, traditional agriculture relies on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maximize production. In regenerative farming, livestock grazes on a series of perennial pastures, fertilizing as they go. His herd of 20 hogs, purchased in the spring as weaners, will rotate through a series of fifty 5,000 square foot paddocks over a six month growing season being fed a non-genetically modified diet and feasting on local nuts, berries and fruits for the last 8 to 12 weeks before they are butchered. A flock of chickens follows along, pecking and scratching, enjoying a protein rich diet of fly larva, while controlling the fly population without chemicals. A herd of 12 Black Angus cattle will do two full rotations of the pastures. Kornacki says they made the decision not to overwinter any livestock to eliminate the expense of winter shelters.

Kornacki is a vocal advocate of regenerative farming, and is frequently tapped to speak to interested groups. A more detailed technical explanation of his approach can be found in a YouTube lecture, Chris Kornacki – Regenerative Agriculture: How We Got Here and the Way Forward.

Initially, all their customers were family and friends, but the base is expanding through referrals and on-line sales. Most orders are bulk purchases of half or full hogs although smaller orders are possible. Farm tours are available to those who would like to learn more about the regenerative farming model and see how their food is produced, and can be booked through their website www. hogwildfarmingcompany.com.

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