R Heritage Farm, owned and operated by Ben and Monique Russ, is a small 20 acre family farm located in the Ahtanum Valley outside of Yakima, WA. We pasture raise heritage Berkshire hogs and our farm’s focus is to provide our customers, and ourselves, with all natural, safe, and delicious pork. In addition to our beloved Berkshire pigs our farm is home to rare heritage breed chickens, turkeys, and geese, and our farm dog, Reiley.
Our “farming” history began in 2004 in Gold Bar, WA, but back then we were really nothing more than homesteaders. We were eager to produce our own food, but at this stage we were just experimenting with chickens and a vegetable garden. After watching Food Inc. in 2009 we were compelled to do more and more research about commercial farming practices, and over the course of several months I literally spent hundreds of hours researching commercial food production, chemicals, livestock breeds, regulations, food ingredients, etc. What we learned was scary, and we began getting serious about growing and producing our own food.
By autumn of that same year we bought our first cow, and in 2010 we expanded our herd, and added a large flock of chickens, and bought our first pigs. For the next few years we raised and produced our own meats and as many vegetables as I could get to grow. In 2012, after realizing there was a demand for what we were raising and how we were doing it we decided to turn our farm into a business, so in 2012 R Heritage Farm was born.
We started selling whole and half hogs and in 2013 began selling packaged cuts of pork and chicken, eggs, and vegetables at farmer’s markets and through our CSA program, but our farm business took us away from the very thing we worked hard for. To be able to raise and eat our own food. The farm consumed all of our time and we were still working full time jobs and going to markets after work and on the weekends. Most days we worked 18+ hours, and because of it we started spending less time with the animals, each other, and our family. We were so busy we switched back to eating processed foods because we didn’t have time to cook, and so we decided it wasn’t worth continuing on.
So, in 2016 we gave up the farmer’s markets, closed our CSA program, and moved to Yakima. Now, we are back to producing our own food, and selling only whole and half Berkshire hogs and heritage chicken eggs to the public. Our values and raising practices never changed over the years, and our focus when we started this venture was to provide the best possible life for our animals. We believe in raising them naturally, outdoors, and in a free range environment, and it’s still the focus of our farm.
Raising animals on our farm has been an extraordinary experience, but farming is incredibly hard. It’s not a hobby – it’s a lifestyle. Your animals always come first, it’s long hours, grueling work at times, and emotionally trying. However, the animals make it fun, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to sit down at the dinner table and know the food was produced from your own farm. At the end of the day knowing that the food we are eating is wholesome, pure, safe, and that the animals we raised lived a happy and healthy life is what drives us to raise our animals for our table and yours.