Located on the NSW mid-north coast on unceded Birpai country inland from Port Macquarie, our farm is where rare breed heritage pork is raised ethically on pasture and, in better times, seasonal vegetables are grown in the fields. Near River believes it is important for you to connect with the food you eat, and know the story about how it is produced and by whom, and to also be aware of the impact that the quality of the food that you eat has on your health, the health of society and the health of the environment.
Our rare breed pasture raised pork has garnered State Award wins in the prestigious delicious. Produce Awards in the From the Paddock category in 2021, 2020, 2018 and 2016 of which we are most proud.
We acknowledge the Birpai people as the traditional custodians of the Country we farm on. We recognise their continuing connection to the land, sea and rivers, and thank them for protecting this country and its ecosystem since time immemorial. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations people.
Our pigs are given ample access to the outdoors, rotating through paddocks with seasonally sown pasture for forage. This approach not only provides a natural environment for the pigs but also helps with soil health and pasture regeneration.
The older English breeds we raise, Wessex Saddlebacks and Berkshires, are well-suited to our outdoor production model. Their characteristics, such as less aggressive behavior, better mothering instincts, and slower growth rates for improved fat distribution, align with our goals.
At Near River we don't use sow stalls or gestation crates and avoid common practices like tail docking, teeth trimming, or ear notching. Instead of relying on vaccines and antibiotics, we opt for a holistic approach with natural additives. Similarly, we use boars to mate with our sows rather than the invasive act of artificial insemination. Weaning piglets at eight weeks and allowing sows to rest before mating after farrowing are also practices that promote pig welfare.
Our pigs are offered a varied diet that includes foraged items like roots and tubers, on-farm milled feed with a proprietary protein supplement, spent brewers' grain, fruits, and whey from local sources. This diverse diet contributes to the overall health and flavour of our pork.
While a fully organic diet is not economically viable for Near River, we take care to exclude GMOs and pesticide residues in our feed inputs and avoid using them elsewhere on the farm thus showing our commitment to responsible farming practices.
By focusing on these aspects, we are able to provide high-quality and ethically produced pork while also maintaining an environmentally friendly farming operation. We believe this approach aligns with the growing consumer demand for products that are both ethical and environmentally conscious.
Source our rare breed pasture raised pork directly by contacting the stockists listed below.
A little further up the Valley you'll find us at Westwood Providores in Dungog.
Locally in Port Macquarie, our produce can be found at Two Triple Four at their new location in the heart of town.
We welcome all enquires from chefs, butchers and the general public, as our in house freight allows us to deliver directly to the Mid North Coast, Hunter Valley, Sydney, S.E.Qld and many points in between..
A number of unique farm events have been held at Near River, as the ultimate way to connect our community directly with the farm, commencing with Breakfast in the Beds - a pop-up dining experience that enabled you to come and enjoy the farm, participate in some activities, and see where and how your food is grown, before sitting down to a meal garnered from the fields you were sitting in.
That success led to Meals in the Fields which has been held numerous times since 2013 with a variety of chefs partnering with us and commanding the pans in the Near River kitchen. In addition to produce from our fields, a number of other artisan producers from the region were also featured.
With an enforced break due to the drought and Covid, Meals was put on hold, however we do have plans to run Meals in the Fields again in the future.
Meals in the Fields March 2016
Andrew chats with Anthony Huckstep about pork and the Near River journey.
After decades as a horticulturist, Andrew Hearne (Near River Produce) had a yearning to get out to the country and grow nutrient rich, organic vegetables and help replenish the soil and land. It wasn’t long before he became enamoured by the teachings of organic pioneer, Joel Salatin who inspired him to introduce pigs to his farm. With the firm belief that it is important to connect with the food you eat, he is now producing some of Australia’s best pork.
Follow The Crackling
Here’s a video we made back in 2015, and whilst a few things have changed, (we are no longer at markets) our guiding principles still stand.
With thanks to Katie and Marcus at Green Parrot
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Growing real food for our community since 2008