Growing up in Oxford County, Melissa Da Costa worked on and off the farm while in school, but has now taken the plunge to full-time farming. We caught up with her to ask about being a farmer and working with pigs in Ontario.
Did you grow up on the farm? If not, when did you start farming?
Yes! I’ve worked most weekends and summers when not in school and after graduation. I finally began working on the farm full time last summer.
What are the biggest changes you've made on your own farm since you began farming?
Probably family members leaving the farm to pursue their own careers.
What is the hardest part about farming?
The uncertainty in the markets, politicians, etc.
The most satisfying?
The lifestyle. Just because it’s busy doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Do you have a favourite pair of boots?
Definitely my cowboy boots. They’re so comfortable and light I forget they’re safety rated.
How do you feel about the organic/antibiotic and hormone-free food movement?
I think it’s great that people care about what they’re eating.
How often do you eat pork?
A few times a week, at least!
What’s the last cut of pork you had?
How was it prepared?
Grilled to perfection!
Who does all the grocery shopping at home?
My mom and I (yes, I still live at home).
What is the biggest influence while you are buying meat?
Definitely the cut, then if it’s local and the price.
With your first-hand knowledge of raising pigs in Ontario, what would you tell people about making their decision at the meat case?
I would recommend buying local knowing the regulations we have to follow. I also find myself recommending buying meat from your local butcher. It really doesn’t get any more local and fresh than that!
What do you wish retailers would focus on while marketing Ontario pork?
I think it's key retailers promote that the animals are all raised with the highest standards and code of practice. We really do give our animals the best life we can. Just because some companies advertise products only from humane farms doesn’t mean the rest of us are raising our hogs inhumanely.
What is your favourite brand of hand lotion/balm?
Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker—I think we have bottles of it everywhere!
What time is your morning alarm set for?
5:25, 5:35, 5:45, 5:50 and 6:00. I need a few alarms to make sure I’m up and out of bed for 6 a.m. Clearly not a morning person!
If you could go on a two month vacation, where would you go? Why?
Arizona for the first 3 weeks and Scotland and Ireland for the remainder of the time. I want to visit Arizona for the scenery and hiking—Scotland and Ireland for the castles, pubs and the amazing views!