A Day on the Farm: Porktoberfest at North Mountain Pastures

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When someone says pig roast, the Serbian in me gets giddy. If you add on local beer on a local farm on the first weekend that actually feels like fall, I’m sold.

North Mountain Pastures hosted their annual Porktoberfest last weekend with a day full of education, beer, and of course, pork.

If you’re not familiar, North Mountain Pastures is a community-supported agriculture initiative. The CSA supplies fresh pastured chicken, beef, pork, sausages, cured meats, and more on a monthly basis.

Tours, taps, and anticipation

North Mountain Pastures is about 40 minutes from Harrisburg located just outside of “downtown” Newport.

We turned off the main road on to the gravel driveway and were greeted by a brood of ducklings crisscrossing the way like it was some sort of game.

As we walked towards the main barn, that oh so familiar scent of a roasting pig hovered over the grounds.

After we set down our brownies we brought for the potluck dinner, I saw a familiar face. Matt Lett, Executive Chef at Tröegs, walked out of the chop house with a board full of cured meat.

He had speck and two types of cured meats with local fennel, herbs, and spices all made with pork from North Mountain Pastures.

Porktoberfest occurs during North Mountain’s annual two-day butchering class where attendees learn how to dress a pig from start to finish.

The speck, which I couldn’t stop eating, was made during last year’s class and was a parting gift for this year’s class of novice butchers.

We sampled our fair share and then naturally gravitated towards the two taps jutting out of the freezer.

Our options were either Perpetual IPA or Big Hill Ciderworks Standard Cider. Both were perfect options for the weather and event.

We started with Perpetual, of course, but flipped back and forth throughout the day.

Brooks Santini, owner and farmer at North Mountain Pastures, then rounded everyone up for a full tour of the farm. North Mountain Pastures raises chickens, pigs, cattle, turkeys, and goats over their 84 acres.

Brooks is not just a farmer. He is kind of a modern-day renaissance man.

He started work as a rocket scientist (yes, really) for the military before transitioning into brewing at Tröegs and now farming.

Brooks’s knowledge of the land, how to irrigate, and grazing patterns is fascinating. He runs the farm with his wife, Anna, and a few other farmhands.

Once we toured the grounds, the “dinner bell” rang.

Pig roast and highland games

We when returned from the fields, the pig was sitting out as everyone gathered around in anticipation.

Brooks roasted the pig for almost 24 hours, so when it was finished, it just fell off the bone. To serve it, he just pulled it apart while a happy farm dog picked up the scraps and lapped up the grease as it fell.

Proper testing of two (okay three) servings of the pig were necessary. Final verdict: delicious.

Porktoberfest is a free event, but North Mountain Pastures asks attendees to bring a side dish to share during dinner. In addition to the pork, there was a full spread of traditional cookout dishes.

Once we had our fill, Brooks led everyone from the barn and into a clearing in the fields for a competition.

The lineup for the “Porktoberfest Games” included traditional Highland games like stone-put, caber toss, and sheath throw.

Basically, seeing how far you could throw a rock, a large log, and a bag of hay.

As the sun set and the games were wrapping up, we decided to get back on the road to Harrisburg.

Appreciating the event

Porktoberfest, of course, was delicious, but it was more than just about the food. It gave Brooks and his family a chance to show off their farm, teach locals about what they do, and share time with the people who support them.

Drinking and eating local means knowing where your food and drink comes from. We always get to post-up at breweries, but getting out to see how your next meal is raised isn’t something people do on a normal basis.

More and more as I get older and more ingrained with our local craft community, I think about how lucky we are to live in an area where we can be so directly connected with the people who supply our daily food.

Not everyone has that opportunity, I’m glad we do, and that connecting this way comes with such a delicious reward.

James Werner
Author: James Werner

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