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Raising pork the right way at Walterboro’s Keegan-Filion Farm
(Bringing Home the Bacon: Renee and Bubba Craven with Annie and Marc Filion at Keegan-Filion Farm for October’s Field Feast, a sustainable dinner party featuring the Filions’ products and benefitting Lowcountry Local First)
Folks chuckle when they say that, in South Carolina, the “Holy Trinity of cooking”—a New Orleans term describing the culinary trio of onions, garlic, and celery—is onions, garlic, and pork. But the pig, which can provide sustenance from the oink to the tail, has fed this state in times both fat and lean.
On 74 acres some six miles north of Walterboro, Marc and Annie Filion are raising the kind of pigs that end up on the tables of the Lowcountry’s finest restaurants, from Charleston’s SNOB, High Cotton, Cypress, Carolina’s, FIG, and Anson to Kiawah’s Ocean Room and Bluffton’s Palmetto Bluff. “The chefs prefer this slow-growing pastured pork,” explains Marc, pointing to the Tamworth breed that has redder and more marbled meat with a bigger layer of fat than conventional pork. “We have an average herd of 100 head and grow them out to 200 or 300 pounds, depending on the preference of the chef.”
“I use Keegan-Filion pigs because they’ve had the freedom to roam around, eat well, and be happy,” says Cypress executive chef Craig Deihl. “With every delivery, we send back fruit and vegetable scraps, corn cobs, and Parmesan cheese rinds for Marc to add to their feed. When you treat an animal that well, you get something fantastic.”
Keegan-Filion’s pork is available retail at its farm store on Mondays and Fridays, from 1 to 6 p.m. The store also stocks the Filions’ famous free-range chicken and eggs, as well as milk, butter, and cheese from Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, South Carolina. (843) 538-2565, www.freerangechickenfarm.com
Photograph by Ben Williams