The business side of sustainable farming is the focus of episode 19 of the Ignite Alabama podcast. My guests are Matthew & Jesie Lawrence, owners of Marble Creek Farmstead and owners of a majority interest in the new USDA-certified Pell City Processing at The Trading Post.
We don't talk about it in the episode but Matthew & Jesie have put together a campaign on IndieGogo to help raise funds for their Pell City Processing facility. Help them out if you can–we need this facility in Alabama. Campaign runs through July.
Marble Creek Farmstead is a sustainable farming operation in Talladega County producing pastured poultry, pork, turkey, beef, goats and rabbits along with a variety of produce and other specialty meats.
One of the biggest challenges for small Alabama poultry producers who are working to meet the intense demand for pastured poultry has been the lack of a USDA-certified poultry processing facility in the state (and limited availability or other meat processing facilities for smaller producers of beef, pork or other meats).
Matthew Lawrence has an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA . His wife Jesie has a business degree in marketing. Together, they work as a team to operate their farm and processing facility as a business, while also continuing to preserve the purpose and mission of the farm. Profitability is a requirement of sustainability, but their vision is one of stewardship as well as financial success.
To grow their business, they needed a better option for poultry processing. They saw a need AND a business opportunity to bring USDA-certified poultry processing to Alabama and started working earlier this year to solve that problem.
In this episode, Matthew & Jesie give some details about how they make it all work.
Alabama Now Has a USDA-Certified Poultry Processing Facility
In April, Matthew and Jesie opened Pell City Processing at The Trading Post. Matthew and Jesie own a majority interest in this venture.
Alabama farmers no longer need to travel all the way to Kentucky to process poultry in a certified facility. Previously, small producers had the option to process on-farm using a USDA exemption for on-farm processing. Processing using the on-farm exemption limited market opportunities and came with some confusion about how the exemption worked (as well as some additional liabilities and risks).
To learn more about processing options at Pell City Processing you can:
- Visit https://marblecreekfarmstead.com/processing-plant/
- A website is in the works for Pell City Processing at The Trading Post
- Email: PellCityProcessing@gmail.com
- Call: Matthew Lawrence at 205-936-6120
Matthew & Jesie take a wholistic approach to farming and problem-solving or prevention on the farm. They use a systems approach, to achieve synergies that result from a complex natural ecosystem working as it is designed to work.
Rather than seeking to simplify, Marble Creek Farmstead is about embracing complexity and letting nature do a lot of the work, which builds resiliency into the business model.
Matthew & Jesie run their businesses to be:
These are values that are near-and-dear to my own heart.
Sustainable Agriculture Can Transform Alabama's Rural Economies
I’m a big believer in the power of sustainable agriculture to be a force in the economic transformation of rural communities and small towns all across Alabama. Farming itself can provide an income for farm families and can have a multiplier effect when economies start to flourish.
I hope you’ll join me in spreading the word about how important it is to support entrepreneurs who are working in the farming, value-added food sectors, and related fields.
This episode includes about 75-80% of my interview with Matthew and Jesie. I edited out a few segments that are very farming focused.
If you want to hear the entire episode, I’m releasing the full conversation as episode 24 of the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast, also available on iTunes and as soon as the extended version is available I’ll include a link here for where to find the downloadable version and show notes.