Located in east Sarasota, Tatum Ridge Farms is home to 12 acres of shady, dense forest, 55 hogs, 200 hens, two families and one burgeoning business—a year-old chicken and hog operation that joined the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market last month to sell its pork.
For years, Jason Coblentz and Steven Brubacher have been working together on the property, a long-dormant former orange grove, as metalworkers. Earlier this year, Coblentz and Brubacher came up with the idea of turning the land into a farm. Brubacher had kept goats and chickens for many years, but Coblentz had little hands-on experience farming. To learn how to raise hogs, he turned to some traditional sources, like books, as well as some non-traditional ones, like podcasts. "It's so accessible now," Coblentz says. "If you don't know something, you can find it."
The hogs roam around several wooded spaces in the middle of the property, rooting for acorns, while the hens, who are let out of their coop by a timer each morning, pick at bugs in the dirt. No slaughtering takes place here. The hogs are processed at Williams Custom Cutting, which makes the company's sausage; Tatum Ridge also works with Geier's Sausage Kitchen to make ham and bacon.
I recently bought a sizable hunk of Tatum Ridge bacon, which comes unsliced, with the skin of the hog still attached, and cut it into thick slabs before boiling it the way Cook's Illustrated recommends. The meat caramelized perfectly in the pan, and the result was smoky and luscious—an excellent addition to any breakfast spread.
Tatum Ridge doesn't yet sell the eggs its hens lay at the farmers' market, but hopes to do so soon. Future plans also call for adding chicken meat to the farm's mix of products. In general, Brubacher manages the farm's hens, while Coblentz is responsible for the pigs, but the business is a whole-family collaboration. You'll find Coblentz at the farm's Farmers Market stand on Lemon Avenue, as well as his wife, Audy, while Brubacher's wife, Angie, and both couples' kids pitch in on the farm.
"We love coming out here and doing the chores together," Audy says. Steven Brubacher adds that caring for a brood of hens isn't all that different from caring for a single bird; it's just a lot more work. "What one needs, 200 need," he says, "just 200 times."
Tatum Ridge Farms sets up at the Sarasota Farmers Market from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday. For more info, call (941) 780-5641 or visit the farm's website.