Nelson and Sandy Carter are the owners of Cartermere Farms in Celina, Texas. Their Mission Statement reads accordingly: Cartermere Farms is committed to producing the highest quality, organic food we possibly can. In doing so, we are dedicated to treating our customers with the transparency and honesty we would expect as consumers, and to treating nature with the respect it deserves as a borrowed resource – progressing rather than pillaging.
Please tell us a little bit about your business.
We are an organic farm, family owned and operated. Our farm sits on about three hundred acres and we specialize in grass-fed lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, free-range eggs, and seasonal vegetables.
When did you start your business?
We started in January 2014.
Tell us more about your farm, and why people need to come and check you out.
In addition to being a business, we feel like it's a mission of ours to offer what we call truly honest food. We are transparent in how we produce food and the relationship we have with our customers both restaurants and individual families are really based around that.
Our customers want to know exactly the practices that we employ whether it be our animal husbandry or what we feed our animals. We have a lot of families that are dealing with various allergies or health issues, so they need very specific information on what they eat, and we can provide them that and even cater to them in certain cases. So really our objective is to be absolutely as honest as we can with people with regard to our products and what we do with our animals and vegetables.
Something else that is really important to us is that we didn’t get here overnight, so we are doing what we can to help educate the public on what they're putting into their bodies. We actually host different events and classes here at the farm. We just did a Chicken Broth class and we also did a Kombucha class. Kombucha is the most natural probiotic that you can put in your body. We also host a summer camp for kids to teach them all about where their food comes from and about what they're putting into their bodies in hopes that we're helping impact the next generation so that America can make a change.
So what would you say sets you apart from your competition?
I would say a couple things …
It's an interesting industry in itself because my husband actually came from corporate America. He quit corporate America five years ago to live his dream and it's a very different area of business that we have found. So even though we have competition it's a little bit different than what we experienced both of us being in corporate America. There is not the kind of dog eat dog mentality because the farmers really all want to help each other and there's enough business to go around. One of the things that I would say that does set us apart is how we consider and treat the customer both individuals as well as restaurants. The way we package our food, the way we present our food is all very important to us, and even though we are small we are presenting ourselves in a very professional way. For example in the beginning when Nelson first started visiting restaurants to gain their business, people would deliver vegetables in plastic grocery bags but when Nelson first showed up he had the vegetables in totes and he pulled them out to show the restaurant owners, it just made a huge difference. Sometimes it is the little things, like when you take the extra time to wrap the twine around the radishes to give that little extra special touch.
The other thing that sets us apart today is we are not a monoculture farm. For example a lot of farms these days have become monoculture farms where they just produce one thing. Maybe they only produce carrots and they are good at producing carrots but they just have you know hundreds of acres of carrots. It has always been our philosophy that on a healthy farm there is a relationship between plants and animals and there are certain cycles. For instance, we can take the overage of a crop, let's say radishes if we have too many radishes we can feed those to the sheep. And then six months later we collect the composted sheep manure and we can add that back into the gardens as fertilizer and so there's this kind of this closed cycle between plants and animals that monoculture farms don't have. Our objective is to really learn and explore the relationships in a multicultural farm or a multipurpose farm.
Another thing I would say that sets us apart is we are probably one of the only farms that actually raises a heritage bird and what that means is that our birds take 10 to 11 weeks to go from hatch to harvest. Most farms are raising what they call a Cornish which is what you typically will buy in the grocery store and those go from the hatch to the harvest in about five to six weeks. What this means for our customers is that because it takes our bird longer to gain the weight they are spending more time on the pasture, more time taking in what God meant for them to eat, which are all the insects and the good proteins that they get, as well as they're building more muscle which gives the bird a lot of flavor.
One other thing that I feel sets us apart is that we don't consider ourselves just a farm we are also a ministry. We are constantly asking ourselves, as people of faith, what would God have us do with the land it's his farm and how can we give back? We actually partner with a local food bank and we have a plot that is designated just for that food bank for people who are in need.
What are your plans moving forward for the future for your business?
We have a number of endeavors that we're looking at. We are looking at trying to engage more with the food bank that we work with as they have expressed some greater needs. So we are looking at how we can partner with them in a closer way to provide even more food. They also have a lot of endeavors in Africa where they actually have some farms in Africa where we've talked about maybe partnering with them to help with those endeavors. The more that we can go down the needs side of it that is of particular focus.
On the business side, we see it growing. There are more and more restaurants looking for local relationships with farms not only from a quality standpoint but also to sustainability standpoint. Their customers care where they are getting their food so.
The business side will definitely tend will evolve more and more as we are still learning as a young farm what specific products we can be most impactful with. We found success with our poultry, we found success with our eggs.
In the vegetable world, we have found some areas that we can do really well at and some areas that others are better at. It may be that our particular land doesn’t cater to a specific type of crop so we're still learning and as that knowledge deepens we'll focus more and more on those areas and get better at those.
How do you currently market your business?
We have done a lot with social media. We have a huge following on Facebook we have over four thousand people who follow us. Typically when we post videos of children with the farm animals and cute baby animals because it will get like eight thousand views. So Facebook has been huge for us, and we are just starting to do Instagram.
We also have different co-ops that work with us and then we create we partner with a host family that basically offers their front porch or their sidewalk and we literally deliver the cooler everything's ordered online and we are Grocer model. This means you can go online between Wednesday and Thursday at midnight and there is no minimum. You can order what they want and then choose if you want to either pick it up at the farm or one of our drop off locations.
We have been featured in different magazines, and a lot of restaurants say they partner with us. So that is how we get the word out. This is probably our biggest dilemma, there are so many people who want what we have, but don't know we exist.