Jeremiah Jones spent most of his childhood in California until he moved back to North Carolina at the age of 11. “I knew nothing about farming until I came here and began following my Uncle around. That’s when I realized how much I love farm work and spending time with animals,” says Jeremiah. He went on to study at NC State and earn five separate 2-year degrees in various agricultural sciences. Recalls Jeremiah, “I loved school and didn’t need much sleep back then so I took as many credits as I could.”
During his last semester, his Uncle had a stroke and Jeremiah and his cousin began the process of taking over the farm and running it themselves. While hogs had always been a part of the operation, Jeremiah got seriously invested in swine in 2004. “That’s when Niman Ranch began buying pasture-raised hogs from North Carolina producers. Just my luck, I got involved 6 months before they pulled out,” says Jeremiah.
That left Jeremiah and many other producers in a bind and was the genesis for the formation of the NC Natural Hog Growers Association—a grower cooperative designed to help collectively market pasture-raised hogs to wholesale buyers. A natural leader and hard worker, Jeremiah is the Association’s President. That means he spends almost as much time talking on his cell phone and scheduling hog deliveries as he does driving a tractor.
Jeremiah manages close to 400 acres across two farms, of which 40 is dedicated to outdoor hog production. The rest is row crops (e.g., corn, soybeans, and wheat), most of which gets harvested and stored on site as feed for the hogs. His hogs are a mixture of several breeds, with a heavy emphasis on Berkshire as well as Chesterwhite and Duroc. “I’m not getting rich by any stretch. But as a way of life, there is no where else I’d rather be,” says Jeremiah.
Jeremiah is the proud father of two young girls and is married to Jessica who works full-time as an Environmental Health Specialist. Jessica also has the important role within the Association of managing the books and paperwork. Asked about his dedication to the Association, Jeremiah notes, “We’re just trying to hold it all together.”
For more information about Jeremiah and the NC Natural Hog Growers Association, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.