By Ian Williams
Carpenter Jason Stephenson has spent most of his working life establishing one of Port Lincoln’s largest and most successful building companies. Now he reckons it’s time to move on.
After 23 years in the building trade the 40-year-old is opting out of construction and has launched a pig farming and smallgoods business instead.
Jason has bought more than 1,000 hectares of land at Rudall on the Eyre Peninsula where his rare Berkshire and Tamworth pigs roam free in the bush.
In just over a year his Boston Bay Smallgoods company has earned a reputation for the quality of its pork products that are in high demand by chefs at restaurants from Adelaide to Darwin and also Sydney.
“I’d just fallen out of love with the building business and wanted a bit more quality time with my family,” says Jason, who is married to Leanne with two children, Axel 10, and Shayna, 7.
“A friend of mine in Coffin Bay was running a few pigs and I went over there with my family and we all had a genuinely happy time. It seemed the right time for a change in our lifestyle ”
Jason started his new venture at Boston Bay but soon outgrew the property.
He moved the business to Rudall where he keeps 130 breeding sows and about 500 other pigs from just born to market ready. These numbers will increase as demand grows.
The animals have a stress-free life grazing on native vegetation and about half the property has been planted with wheat and barley for additional feed.
Jason chose Berkshire and Tamworth pigs because they are known for the exceptional quality of their meat, which is in strong demand by chefs and gourmet meat suppliers.
“The fact that I’m breeding Berkshire and Tamworth pigs is a big selling point and I really want to be an ambassador for the breeds,” he says.
The animals are butchered in Port Lincoln and the smallgoods processed in Adelaide, with production currently running at about one tonne a week.
At the moment Jason is still operating his construction firm, J & L Stephenson Building Contractors, but hopes to be farming fulltime within 18 months once he has finished some major projects.
He has nine fulltime employees and a couple of them are planning to buy the business. A farm manager is looking after the pigs in the meantime.
Jason says the transition from building to pig farming isn’t proving too hard.
“Running pigs is common sense to a point,” he says “It’s not rocket science and the Internet is wonderful thing.”