By BETTER FARMING STAFF
Expansion of two Perth County niche pork ventures has prompted an area processor to expand its facilities too.
“This will give us a great lift up to help our customers to meet their demand and expand their businesses,” says John Koch who owns Walnut Hill Farm with his wife Julieanne. The Gads Hill company that’s adjacent to the family farm processes pork for Perth Pork Products and Willowgrove Hill. “Our capacity is pretty much maxed out for production of those products so we needed to make a decision to expand our production or just stay where we were,” John says.
Located near Sebringville, Perth Pork Products is owned by Fred and Ingrid de Martines and specializes in growing rare and heritage breed pigs. Paul and Rosie Hill own Willowgrove Hill near Mitchell and produce antibiotic-free pork enhanced with DHA/EPA Omega-3 and selenium.
The Kochs also process their own lines of low sodium and allergen-free pork products as well as some beef products and do some custom work for other local farmers. The business does everything from cutting up carcasses to curing, smoking and packaging. It wound down slaughter operations in 2010.
Work on the expansion began last week and includes shifting the former slaughter area to processing and adding a spice room, as well as converting other space in the facility for ready-to-eat packaging, a shipping cooler and dry curing. Half of the nearly $280,000 project comes from the province’s rural economic development program.
An Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs news release issued Friday to announce the provincial funding indicates the project will double the company’s production, increase its annual sales to $1.3 million and create more opportunities for local farmers. Walnut Hill currently process 40 to 50 hogs a week. Koch says the goal is to have the project complete by the end of March 2012 “but a real life expectation might be July of next year.” BF