Paul Boulden, Jr. has developed a passion for pork and a love for culinary arts through his world travels. Previously an engineer, Boulden, Jr. has educated himself on locally sourced foods and sustainable farming as he has returned to his roots in agriculture. His father, Paul Boulden, Sr., said “my mother was one of twelve children, which played a part in her love for feeding people”; this dedication to feeding people has been passed down through generations of Bouldens.
In 2017, as farmers markets made a strong comeback across the country, Paul Boulden, Jr., his father, and their families decided to turn a passion into a business, and Studley Farms in Mechanicsville, Virginia was born. Today, Studley Farms is a family-run operation that specializes in raising grass-fed beef, non-GMO pasture-raised poultry (chicken, turkeys, ducks, and geese), non-GMO free-range eggs, lamb, and of course heritage breed pork.
As a smaller sized farm providing Virginia Grown products, the Bouldens have successfully diversified, including in their operations direct-to-consumer sales, farmers market sales, and wholesale to local restaurants. They also focus on educating consumers around whole hog butchering and sausage making. Future plans include opening a butcher shop in Central Virginia.
The lack of slaughterhouses in the Commonwealth is a challenge the Virginia pork industry recognizes. The Bouldens are one of many who travel across the state and into bordering states to have their meat processed. One solution to this shortage, especially for independent and niche pork producers, is the innovative VSU Small Ruminants Mobile Processing Unit, which could serve as a model for on-farm niche pork processing for producers. Paul Boulden, Jr. said, “This (MPU) is currently being used for goats and sheep; but with a few logistical advancements needed for processing hogs, such as increasing the weight limit, something like this could be of significant value.” He has successfully completed the required mobile processing unit certification program to be able to use the MPU to process his sheep and goats on-farm under USDA Inspection. Boulden said, “This could fill the demand for slaughterhouses across Virginia. It’s hard enough to get on the schedule, which could still require a long wait period, let alone the round-trip travel time and cost, stress to livestock, and stress to producers”.
Paul Boulden, Jr. plans to continue the family’s hard work on Studley Farms while expanding operations in Ashland and Doswell, Virginia, working toward the grant approvals needed to secure a mobile processing unit tailored for hog processing, and providing high quality pork products to consumers across Virginia.