The owners of Hog Haven Farm, LLC are proud to be a first generation, family farm, starting as a small operation and growing increasingly over the years. The Staples family raises heritage breed, specializing in the Gloucestershire Old Spot (GOS) pig. They also sell USDA packaged cuts of pork. Rob Staples will tell you his current career as a niche pork producer, alongside his wife, Verde Shaffer, is “the most fun and fulfilling job” he has ever had; taste the Hog Haven specialties you will find by visiting them at local farmers markets and you will agree.
Before entering Virginia’s niche pork industry, Rob Staples fell into his corporate sales career straight out of college. Little did he know that soon he would be making sales of pork products from the pigs he raises.
Despite having no previous farming experience, Rob and his wife Verde bought their home and twenty-two acres of land nine years ago in northwestern Goochland County. They had dabbled in small business sales through making and selling baked goods at farmer’s markets in Richmond and Charlottesville.
When they learned about the staunch support around the farmer’s market vendors and saw potential to make income from selling locally grown products and goods at the markets, Rob Staples decided to go along with his wife Verde’s idea to raise pigs on the farm; soon they purchased their first hog. One pig quickly turned into bringing home ten pigs the same day, when a handful of additional pigs was offered from the seller. Before they knew it, Hog Haven Farm became the 100-hog operation it is today.
Staples says, “a lot of his successes come from being in the right place at the right time.” It was a matter of contacting the right people managing local farmer’s markets in Richmond, Charlottesville, and Northern Virginia. He happened to express interest in being a vendor, and it was the right time to ask. Successful markets were expanding and/or accepting new vendors at the time.
During the beginning stages of COVID-19, Rob and Verde were more aware of consumers’ demand for grass-fed food, especially local demand for meat with the closures of grocery stores. “The need for and importance of markets staying open and operating was critical,” said Staples. “Advocating for local markets to remain open and accessible to the public as an open-air, minimal contact option for consumers to purchase necessities while following public health and safety guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus was the logical thing to do.”
The small but mighty team at Hog Haven Farm take great effort to rotate the pigs and focus on diet, resulting in a highly nutritious, lean muscle, which is marbled with a delicious, melt-in-your mouth pork product which yields high omega-3, low LDL, healthy fat. Staples attributes this nutritional superiority and taste to the farm’s business successes at farmer’s markets across the Commonwealth. He says, “We know that animal welfare is incredibly important; it is another reason people are eager to support this family-operated business at markets. Our family takes our responsibility seriously to care for our animals. What a rewarding feeling and profound sense of pride to see our family business’s name labeled across a quality product.”