Farmer Jennings Briley of Foggy Hog Farm works with pigs of various ages at Port Townsend’s Foggy Hog Farm. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Farmer Jennings Briley of Foggy Hog Farm works with pigs of various ages at Port Townsend’s Foggy Hog Farm. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

‘A pig with a purpose’ is the motto at Foggy Hog Farm

The farm is part of a cooperative operation that raises local meat

PORT TOWNSEND — Farmer Jennings Briley, 22, recently earned her degree in natural resources at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. And a few weeks back, she began a new education among the trees and pastures of East Jefferson County.

Just before she joined the crew at Foggy Hog Farm outside Port Townsend, people had questions.

“Are you sure you want to come all the way out here?”

“Does it intimidate you that you’re the only female?”

Oh, yes, to the first, and no to the second.

“I grew up with a lot of brothers,” in Birmingham, Ala., “and I’m kind of used to that,” she said, walking across the field where a small herd of Scottish Highlander cattle grazed in Wednesday morning’s sun.

“I was wanting to get out West,” and was considering the Denver area, where friends had relocated.

“But I didn’t want to do the easy thing and go where I had people, where it was ‘safe.’ I’ve always been fascinated with the Pacific Northwest, as a geology-forestry nerd,” Briley said.

“I’m passionate about women being an equal part of a male-dominated field” of farming and ranching, she said.

Working at Foggy Hog Farm is not the easy thing. It’s part of the cooperative operation on the 97-acre Natambea Farm, formerly the Swanson family farm. The name comes from a Swahili word for walking, as on a journey.

Five years ago, Devon and David Pablo Cohn purchased these acres from the Swanson family with the intention of preserving them as open space; Foggy Hog Farm cofounder Alex Lemay now leases the land and raises beef cattle and sheep there.

In addition, Lemay, Briley and their small crew raise pigs at Frog Hill Farm, another spread a few miles away.

At its two locations, the Foggy Hog Farm is designed as a regenerative operation: pouring resources back into — instead of draining them from — the land.

The cows are given ample space and rotated from paddock to paddock while the pigs, equipped as they are with noses that work like shovels, are also given room to dig and aerate the soil.

Animal manure, naturally, adds to the ecosystem.

“The pigs dig everything up. There are a lot of nutrients in the soil. Then we go over and plant cover crops,” Lemay summarized.

Foggy Hog’s motto is “a pig with a purpose,” and a visit to their pen illustrates that. One sow nurses the piglets while Atlas, the massive boar, walks among the others, oinking in a deep voice.

This is a small-scale operation, Lemay said, but it’s a way to make a difference in the future of food. He and his crew vend at the Port Townsend Farmers Market at Tyler and Lawrence streets, open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for just two more Saturdays before closing for the season. Foggy Hog pork and beef will then be sold via www.foggyhogfarm.com and at the Food Co-op.

People who are curious about locally raised meats are welcome to come by the Uptown office at 616 Polk St., Lemay added. The farmers also can be reached via 360-912-4617.

Locally raised meat is expensive — too costly for many residents, Lemay acknowledged.

The farm has a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program, as well a donation program throughout this month.

Local residents can donate to the Foggy Hog Farm Cares program, which will pass on the gifts to the Jefferson County Anti-Racist Fund and the Jefferson County Food Bank.

“That’s really exciting for us,” Lemay said.

Interested contributors can use the “Contact Us” form on the farm’s website to connect with the program, or visit the office or the Foggy Hog table at the farmers market.

The Foggy Hog farmers also have a food-scrap relationship with local restaurants and the food bank.

Owl Sprit, Pho’Filling, the Whiskey Mill, Hacienda Tizapan, Hillbottom Pie and 1-2-3 Thai are among the eateries supplying scraps for the boars and sows. The pigs sold for meat are fed high-quality non-GMO feed, Lemay said.

“I drove out here from Tennessee,” said Briley, “and on the way I passed these huge industrial farming operations,” with herds of cattle jammed into muddy pits.

“You could smell it from miles away,” she recalled.

Out in the pastures along Port Townsend’s edge, the world looks different. There has been a lot of rain, yes, and few days off; the cows’ and pigs’ needs don’t take a holiday.

Yet, “I’m loving it,” Briley said.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz@peninsuladailynews.com.

The Icelandic sheep, who live among the many animals at Port Townsend’s Foggy Hog Farm, stick together in their pen Wednesday morning. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

The Icelandic sheep, who live among the many animals at Port Townsend’s Foggy Hog Farm, stick together in their pen Wednesday morning. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Farmer Jennings Briley, left, is originally from Alabama; she works with Alex Lemay at Foggy Hog Farm of Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Farmer Jennings Briley, left, is originally from Alabama; she works with Alex Lemay at Foggy Hog Farm of Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

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