Learn more about his latest venture, Peculiar Pig Eats, a farm-to-table catering company
CM: How is your work influenced by your ancestors?
MR: Growing up, I was always with my grandfather, Thomas Henry Ross, who taught me how to farm the way I currently do. My grandfather had 11 kids and worked a job and on the farm full time out of necessity. He didn’t have money for fertilizers and pesticides, so everything was done in-house, growing crops for livestock and vegetables for his family. When he passed, I went back to his land and started raising pigs on a small scale and taking them to the livestock market. After connecting with a USDA meat-processing facility in 2009, Peculiar Pig Farm was born.
CM: What makes the farm so peculiar?
MR: We put a lot of respect into where and how the animals are living and use humane practices. Livestock roam in a woodlot, just like they did with my grandfather. Also, there aren’t many people I know of who use local grains and make their own feed the way that we do. A lot of these farmers live 10 to 15 minutes away, some of them having also worked with my grandfather, and this gives them another source of income as well.
CM: Which types of pigs do you raise?
MR: There are multiple breeds of heritage hogs on the farm, including Duroc, Hampshire, and Hereford. These are older line, generational hogs from before “the other white meat” marketing campaign came along. That kind of commercial processing uses steroids and antibiotics to make hogs leaner and less fat. Right now, we supply meat to more than 40 restaurants in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, including Butcher & Bee, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Palmira BBQ, and Lenoir locally.
CM: What does a sustainable operation mean to you?
MR: Whole Foods gives us their vegetable scraps, and we also get leftover bread from Baguette Magic to make feed. I want to be as regenerative as possible, because this stuff would end up in the landfill if we didn’t use it.
CM: Why did you open your catering company, Peculiar Pig Eats?
MR: My wife, Nikki, and I started Peculiar Pig Eats in 2018 using meat from our farm specializing in whole-hog barbecue. We try to give the client the truest farm-to-table experience. For instance, we source veggies from Kindlewood Farms in Walterboro; they do a really great job with their CSA program.
CM: Tell us about carrying on the tradition of hog slaughters.
MR: Every February, me and my wife’s families get together with neighborhood friends. We slaughter a couple hogs and cook a big feast, butchering and dividing the animals together. I’ve talked to a lot of older farmers who say they’re glad to see the tradition going. I often seek knowledge and wisdom from them; without them, there wouldn’t be me. I’m just the next generation trying to continue that legacy.
CM: What’s next on your plate?
MR: We want to introduce a healthy, sustainable way of eating. I’m really trying to expand our catering business in Charleston, because a lot of people here just know us for the farm. I’d also love to incorporate charcuterie into the business one day.
Web Extra: Hog Heaven: Watch pigs, cows, goats, geese, and chickens roam free on Marvin Ross’s Peculiar Pig Farm.