Patchwork takes pork to the people . . .
. . . and gives firm market to the farmers

By Greg Bowman, New Farm® editor

Editor's Note

Patchwork Family Farms were a big presence at the recent Farm Aid concert in Pittsburgh. In fact, in a concert venue dominated by food service food vendors, they offered the only real food to found--delicious grilled pork sandwiches of various types.

The Patchwork crew was also notable for their bright red "Stop Factory Farms" t-shirts.

If you'd like to learn more about Patchwork Family Farms and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, check out the contact information below:

Patchwork Family Farms
The Patchwork web site briefly outlines the coop's vision and production standards. You can also order great pork products from the web site.

Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC)
710 Rangeline St.
Columbia MO 65201
(573) 449-1336
Fax (573) 442-5716
morural@mail.coin.MO.edu

OCTOBER 23, 2002, COLUMBIA, MO. By “recapturing the middle” of the pork business, farmer-operated Patchwork Family Farms has created viable markets for 20 Missouri families. They beat their $300,000 sales goal in 2001, and are closing in on 2002 goal of _____.

The farms produce hogs without continuous feeding of antibiotics, no continuous confinement and no growth hormones. Just as they allow their animals to run outside, Patchwork farmers run “outside the box” of specialty producers by insisting their products work in low-income communities as well as the dollar-driven marketplace.

Patchwork buys hogs from its farmers, assuring them payment fixed at 43 cents per pound -- or 15 cents per pound above market -- whichever is higher. The hogs are processed in one of three federally inspected, family-owned plants that Patchwork uses in Missouri. Members now deliver the meat to 50 restaurants, four mainstream supermarkets, a specialty store and a 5,500-member food co-op. It’s Patchwork all the way through the middle from farm to consumers or to retailers.

Early customers were several congregations in economically depressed African-American communities in Kansas City. The farmers attended Sunday services in the morning, then socialized and sold their pork in the afternoon. The congregations had joined the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) in the 1980s to support farmers threatened by low prices and foreclosure.

Thanks to the dedication of its farm families and its supporters in the MRCC, which sponsored it, Patchwork is nearing a breakeven point in its business growth. It has received grants from farming and church non-profits for its feasibility study and from the USDA for its community food access work. In addition to funding initiatives like Patchwork, MRCC carries on organizing and policy work to limit factory farms and encourage family-scale farming.

In cooperation with Farm Aid, Patchwork members hauled 6,000 pounds of pork products to New York City in October 2001 to donate it to low-income families affected by the World Trade Center bombings.