Willowgrove Hill Pork (Mitchell, Ontario)
Located just 20 minutes northwest of Stratford, Ontario, Paul Hill and his wife, Rosie, own and operate the Willowgrove Hill Pork farm. They’ve committed themselves to creating products of uncommon quality and taste, while offering consumers more choice.
Why did you get into farming?
Farming has been a part of our lives; and pork farming, in particular, has always been a part of mine. The decision to raise what we think is more health conscious pork happened after one of our sons succumbed to liver cancer in 2001 at the age of two. After that, creating food we could be proud of – that we would serve at our own table – has become our mission in life.
Tell us about your pork.
We started with good breeding; crossing two pig types: one parent coming from exceptionally refined stock and the other known for sturdiness and disease resistance. Together, they make for pork that has a little more marbling. In spring of 2007, along with professional hog nutritionists, we created a patented, proprietary feed with natural DHA/EPA Omega-3 fatty acids (good fats that promote health) and organic Selenium. This creates pork that’s succulent and flavourful, but also has more nutrition. Though all Ontario Pork is raised without hormones by law, we also choose to raise our pork without the use of antibiotics or growth promotants. Our efforts have been rewarded – by the famous chefs who choose us, and even with the Ontario Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
Where can we find your pork?
Not only do we sell packages directly to consumers, we can also be found at top restaurants, including 360 Restaurant on the CN Tower, Canoe, and Neros at Windsor Casino, to name but a few. We’re also available at better butcher shops and we’ve just signed on to provide products to FreshCo locations across Ontario.
How do you keep your stock healthy?
Through a lot of hard work, mostly. We start with healthy and naturally disease-resistant stock (which makes a big difference). Then we make sure we operate an environment that is rigorously controlled with cleanliness as a top priority. We think it’s ironic that pigs are considered a dirty animal, when nothing could be further from the truth. Their cleanliness depends entirely on how they are taken care of by people.
How do you like to enjoy your own product?
Well, let me start by saying I feel our bacon is exceptional. (I mean, who doesn’t like bacon?) After that, I’d have to say it’s our chops. My wife makes them several ways, but I like her Apple-Kissed Grilled Pork Chops best.
What should consumers remember when buying pork?
I think when buying any food, people should educate themselves about what goes into it and how it’s grown. People should learn more about farming, and I think that’s really starting to happen. Always be on the lookout for food made right here in our own province. We have food production standards and quality that are the envy of the world – so celebrate and support Ontario farms.
Ontario’s farmers play an important role in the fabric of our society. They contribute to Ontario’s economy, are good stewards of the land, and help to put fresh local food on our tables. These are some of their stories.
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