Here's a little story about a man named Brandon, who started raising pigs in the Future Farmers of America program while attending North Marion High School. He would go on to start a business doing the same, which now has led him to Africa.
Brandon Chase, financial advisor at Edward Jones in downtown Canby, markets and sells pork he raises himself on a farm just outside of town on Lone Elder Road. He sells half or whole pigs to individuals who then pay Ebner's Custom Meats, also in downtown Canby, or another meat market, to cut and wrap the meat.
He currently has nine pigs and typically sells about 30 each year, but he lost several animals in a barn fire last January.
"We just finished building a new barn, so we will now be working up to having about 12 to 15 (pigs) at a time," he said.
As previously mentioned, Chase first began raising pigs and selling pork in high school and discovered he really enjoyed it. His parents had a small, five-acre farm outside of Donald and he turned some stalls inside their barn into pigpens, but he moved away from what was then a pastime while he attended college.
"My uncle and grandfather were really into raising pigs and I heard stories about it growing up," he said.
After he graduated and moved into the workforce, Chase decided raising pigs might be a good hobby to take his mind off of work. When he first started selling pork he used Craigslist to reach customers, and now he markets his commodity on Facebook and other buy and sell sites.
"I graduated from Oregon State with a degree in agriculture business management," he said. "I took a lot of marketing classes and I always thought that was the direction I was going to go in career-wise. I worked for an egg production company in Woodburn starting when I was 10 years old and did college internships at their locations in Washington and California. That is where I thought I would have my career. Along with that, I got involved on the marketing side of business."
"I didn't know I would end up with a career in finance. I haven't worked a day, professionally, in agriculture since graduating college."
Chase said he doesn't make much money selling pork — he does a little better than breaking even — and profits typically go back into raising the next batch of pigs. His passion for breeding plump pigs, however, also carried over to his church's African mission. Through the Canby Christian Church he helped a village in Uganda, called Kacungwa, begin raising pigs to slaughter and sell at market.
"What intrigued me in Uganda is I learned after I got there that pork is the most frequently-eaten meat — more than any other country in Africa," he said. "A light bulb went on and I thought, 'I know something about raising pigs,' so I started talking to the locals and they had been raising pigs forever, just not in a way that was commercially viable — they let them wander around and eat grass or whatever they might root up. It might take two years for a pig to reach 100 pounds, if they were lucky. We taught them to feed the pigs a good diet of grain that's mixed properly and now they can raise a 200-250-pound pig in seven or eight months."
The African mission lead to Chase being asked to speak about raising pigs and selling pork at a conference in Uganda this August, in the capital city of Kampala, called The Renewal Summit, which bills itself as "mobilizing God's people to be agents of transformation in Africa."
"They're saying there will be about 600 people there from 10 nations, and I'm there to talk about raising pigs and starting a co-op," he said. "Here's an FFA project I started in high school and all of a sudden it's led me to being invited to speak at this big conference in Uganda."
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like his passion will continue down the line in his family — Chase said he has a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old son and "neither of them want anything to do with it."