Pig Farming: Turning Food Waste into Profit

What I am learning is that pigs are very good at eating just about anything as I take on my new Post-Arcosanti stint as a helper on a western Mass pig farm.

The versatility of pigs centers on the fact that they can turn the wastes from many food processing facilities into profit. Developing a process of food production that involves minimal feed or fertilizer costs, is a key factor for profitability and success in a competitive and often challenging business.

Many food processing facilities have geared their waste production as byproducts for the pig farm. For example New England Naturals (Greenfield MA) produces about 1000 pounds of waste granola and grains a week. These are collected by Cosimo Ferrante for his small pig operation in Ashfield, MA. Indeed the boxes of waste granola we get from New England Naturals has the word PIG stamped on all the boxes so that one would not get confused as to the use of this box. He also gets food byproducts from Hot Mamas Foods which has a facility in Springfield MA and a fish processing facility also in Springfield. All this gathering of food byproducts leads to a balanced diet for the pigs and hopefully healthy, nicely bulked up pigs.

A major reason I am here has to do with an effort to explore more deeply an aspect of the recycling and waste reprocessing movement that focuses on the recycling of kitchen scraps and food producing facility byproducts for farm operations.

My experience in understanding the work of Integrated Farming pioneer George Chan was that pigs did have a important role to play in breaking down bio waste at the small to medium size farm level and the development of more integrated and polyculture oriented small farm operations. These operations were designed to use pig manure as a feedstock for an synergy farm in which various farm activities would support each other in a holistic way.

The longer term goal is to develop a project that integrated key components of sustainable living into a center for recycling these waste materials into valuable products like compost tea, organic fertilizer and produce cultivated in a greenhouse using a evolution of hydroponics called Organic Hydroponics.

For example George Chan’s Integrated Farming System focused on how pigs can break down waste from food production facilities or other sources. Their waste in turn can be used to power biodigesters that then develop biogas energy, food and fertilizer from that manure.

Recently I saw an article about how the legalization of marjiuana in Washington has led to research into opportunities to feed pigs the leftovers from marijuana production operations.

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