The Butcher and the Baker
The new spring season welcomes warmer days, blossoming trees and fresh produce sprouting from the soil. Fayetteville's The Butcher and the Baker is a one stop shop offering local commodities, grass fed organic meat and for the first time this year, a plethora of locally grown, organic vegetables which will arrive to the store fresh from the ground. And let me tell you, there is no place like it in Cumberland county.
Local, organic farmer, Matthew Jones of Jones Family Farm will be the sole supplier of fresh produce to Butcher and the Baker's shelves. Having come from the Midwest, where sustainability is praised and organic is highly sought, I expected similar philosophies to also flow through my new city; however, that is hardly the case. Matt is the only organic farmer in the county and one of only about three organic farmers in nine surrounding counties. In an area where change happens slowly, he will have an opportunity to give the Fayetteville community something they can not easily find anywhere else.
.When Matt first bought his plot of land in Broadway, North Carolina it was void of life. The farmland, which had previously been one of the first in the state to use synthetic fertilizers, had hardly any insects, earthworms or even birds. Matt had originally planned to farm using mainstream methods, but after researching he learned how fertilizers strip plants of their immune system and antioxidants, leaving them defenseless against insects. He decided that in order to grow the healthiest plants, he would farm organically. Now, after caring for the ground without the use of chemicals, Matt is seeing his land come alive. He said, “Now everything is becoming healthy. […] You could reach your hand in the flower beds, pull it up and just see handfuls of earthworms in the dirt.”
The quality of his produce mirrors his care. With an ever expanding array of vegetable varieties, people can expect the unexpected. For example, this season Matt will be growing a variety of mini romaine lettuce called Breen. The lettuce bursting with crisp juiciness brings to light flavors such as celery and water chestnuts. “You are going to see a difference in quality,” Matt said, “I'm not even expecting it, and I grow it.”
Matt grew up enjoying food from his parents' family garden and has a knack for farming innovation. Last year was Matt's first year selling his produce to the public from both surrounding farmer's markets. and his own home. He said, “People last year wanted to come up here and see a grocery store.”
This year, however, customers will be able to find more of his produce in a grocery unlike any other in the city. Right now his fields and greenhouses are peppered with sprouts of everything from pink cauliflower to carrots. One could travel farm to farm finding the freshest organic meats and produce or he or she could make a stop at the Butcher and the Baker. Matt said, “It's a congregation point for all the food.”
The Butcher and the Baker owner, Kayla Sharpe said, “It really does you no good to drive all over North and South Carolina to get the same prices here.”
Owners Kayla and her husband, Matthew Sharpe started the store in 2013 along with a local meat farmers Jason and Crystal Butler as a way to bring local flavor to Fayetteville. Last July the Sharpe's acquired sole ownership of the establishment, and now, continue to build the thriving business.
Originally doing patient care for the Department of Defense, Kayla never envisioned that life would bring her to the point where she is now. Her role with patient care reversed unexpectedly after a spinal chord tumor put her in a wheelchair. Confined to the chair, Kayla started baking bread as a hobby. “I was forced to bake being a patient instead of being in patient care,” Kayla said.
When she had recovered enough from her tumor to use a walker, she began selling her breads at Fayetteville's farmer's market. Customers took to Kayla's yeast and quick bread varieties like seagulls to ice cream cones. She sold an average of 80 to 90 loaves per week. With the high demand, she had the idea to make local foods accessible to people every day of the week. Out of that vision, (and a clever children's nursery rhyme) the Butcher and the Baker was born.
The store sells goods from around 40 farmers and vendors chiefly within a 100-mile radius of Fayetteville. Products such as local honey, cornmeal and Salsa can be found on the rustic wood shelves along with an ever-changing array of meat, eggs, poultry and fresh milk. Kayla is constantly on the hunt for new vendors. “If you are producing in the Carolinas, I will feature you,” Kayla said.
She brought in 4 new chicken farmers this past week alone. The only requirements held at the Butcher and the Baker is that all the products sold are local, non-GMO, free from antibiotics, hormones, fillers, preservatives, artificial food dyes, pesticides, etc... “It's essentially just food,” Kayla said.
In Kayla's experience, the seemingly uncomplicated concept of selling “just food” can be hard to find with the abundance of commercially and chemically produced alterations and innovations which are not only void of health benefits, but also harmful to the body. She said, “You have to put good in to get good out.”
The store differs from CSA's and Co-ops in that it is a brick and mortar store. When making deliveries or taking orders over the phone, customers can pick all the items they want to have in a box and shop off menus they plan for the week. “It saves money but you still get the farm freshness,” Kayla said.
Last month the Butcher and the Baker sold over 1,100 pounds of local meat. This spring a new cooler will be installed for the store's addition of Matt's fresh produce. With demand high and product constantly changing and evolving, Kayla has developed a wait list system in order to call customers when particular items have arrived in store.
The store has many customers with specific food allergies and others wanting specific products they can not find anywhere else such as duck eggs and bison. Kayla said, “There are very few things people have requested that I haven't brought in.”
With her husband in the active duty Army and six children all home schooled, balancing home life and ambitiously running the store is a constant job. Sometimes she will work with farmers, ordering animals live off the hoof until 11 p.m. in the evening. “I feel like it's a birthday party all the time,” she said.
The Butcher and the Baker is ever changing to the demands of the customer. Kayla makes herself available for a level of personal customer service which exceeds simply food advice, recipes and meal planning. She makes an effort to grow relationships with her customers, caring about their concerns and dietary needs. The store's mission is to love God and love people.
Faith comes in to play in every part of the business, from the way Kayla interacts with her customers to the way she deals with vendors. Radiating joy, she lives out her beliefs. “Jesus saves. That's it,” Kayla said. “Christianity is all about loving others and helping those in need.”
“If you are broken, you fit in right here. If you don't know how to cook, you fit in right here,” She said.
The Butcher and the Baker is a place where people can come and easily change their day to day lives. She said, “It would be nice for people to see how easy it would be to change their eating habits if they just came in. Once you're in the door, we'll take it from there."
The Butcher and Baker is located on 231 Franklin Street, in historic downtown Fayetteville. For more information on the business, offerings and supply, call 910-483-0560, email Kayla at email@example.com or visit the Butcher and Baker's facebook page.
Those interested in receiving weekly crates of hand-delivered vegetable varieties from Jones Family Farm can call 919-721-1629 or message Matt on Jones Family Farm's facebook page.
Crates are $100 for six weeks of produce. There are also large crate options for bigger families.