In the tiny mountain town of Spruce Pine, N.C., one woman has given up dressing hair to raise heritage hogs.
Lacey Queen always farmed on the side – such is Appalachia – but after learning the grim details of factory farming in 2010, she found a new passion to produce super-fresh, hyper-local food and educate customers about what they put in their bodies.
“I started piddling around, raising a few pigs here, a few pigs there, and I found that’s what people wanted,” says Lacey, 29, who earned her meat handler’s license, hit the farmers market circuit and began catering private events and wholesaling to restaurants full-time.
With the help of her family, she now raises between 100-150 whey-fed pigs – a cross of Yorkshire and Hampshire heritage breeds – each year, from farrow-to-finish.
In May 2017, Lacey opened The Tin Shed, an accurately named take-away stand serving up low-and-slow BBQ (on a smoker her dad fabricated), burgers, beef and chicken – not to mention produce, milk, eggs and more. Most of it is sourced from just across the road at Lacey’s Soggy Bottom Farms, which opened in 2012, or other nearby providers.
“This is a family endeavor, and what I’m trying to do is engage with fellow small, local farmers — including mushroom growers, free-range egg producers and others — who offer organic, fresh products that compliment our food,” says Lacey, who partners with neighboring growers on a popular CSA program. “It’s so important to me in this mountain community to offer quality, locally-grown food and to make the food the star.”
Call it farm-immediately-to-table — and delicious.