Clarksville’s Walnut Ridge Acres
Story and photos by John Hamilton
“I just like to cook,” said Bob Portmann while prepping western-style pork ribs raised on his farm.
Just outside of Clarksville, in Clinton County, there lies a little farm where the Portmann family — Bob, his wife, Becky, son Andrew and his wife Tiffany — spread their love of cooking, pork and produce to the community and their neighbors.
Walnut Ridge Acres dates back to 1984 and has been a regular contributor to the Clinton County Farmers Market. Though Bob and Becky Portmann had full-time jobs before starting the Walnut Ridge Acres business, farming has always been a part of their lives.
Both were laid off from their jobs at General Motors and, “We needed to live,” said Becky Portmann. That’s when they began building Walnut Ridge.
“First, we started out with sheep. Then from that, we got a few heads of steers along the way. Then we got into pigs about twelve years ago,” said Bob Portmann, who’s farmed his whole life.
Walnut Ridge was one of the first vendors when the Clinton County Farmers Market began.
But it’s not just the citizens of Clinton County who have enjoyed their cuts. They’ve also been seen at the farmers markets in Blue Ash and Hyde Park and at the Winter Market at MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati.
While they do sell other items that they do not produce, pork is their main focus. They raise Berkshire hogs.
At the farm, they have a greenhouse system that allows year-round growing of microgreens, spinach, arugula and more.
When it comes to their customers, “They all love it,” said Bob Portmann of their products.
“All the products we’ve had, they’ve all come back for some,” he said. “There’s no one good seller over the other. They all sell about equally.”
To Bob Portmann, he thinks once someone has tasted their sausage or ribs or whatever they have, the customer can’t go back to the regular fare found in stores.
To the Portmanns, one of the best things about their business is the gratitude they hear from customers.
“We’ve heard that over and over and over,” said Becky Portmann. “They appreciate what we do. They’re thankful. They’re inquisitive on how we do it. And they all seem to love the meat, the pork, the veggies.”
They knew there were people out there who wanted to have fresh produce and cuts of meat. Not just locals, but restaurants are also fans and have been supplied with Walnut Ridge Acres’ products, including the General Denver in Wilmington, the Wildflower Cafe in Mason and Aberlin Springs in South Lebanon.
Walnut Ridge Acres
7912 U.S. Route 22, Clarksville
To keep up to date with Walnut Ridge and place an order, visit their Facebook page or www.walnutridgeacres.com.
Western Style Pork Ribs
Rack of ribs, with 1-2 ribs per person
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dehydrated honey powder or raw sugar
Pinch crushed red pepper
Apple juice, to taste
Barbecue sauce, to taste
Make the rub. Mix all the rub ingredients together and sprinkle all over the rack of ribs, rubbing it in. Return the pork to the refrigerator for a couple hours before smoking. This rub can be used on all cuts of pork.
To make the ribs, smoke on the grill at 225-250 degrees for two hours uncovered. Maintain 225-250 degrees throughout the cooking time. After two hours, remove the ribs from the grill and wrap in foil with a little apple juice carefully added to the package and cook for two more hours. At hour four, unwrap the ribs and put them back on the grill. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for one more hour.
All cooking is done using indirect heat on a grill or smoker.
Serve with steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and salad greens. Bob Portmann recommends Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the meal.