I started Wallace Farms 20 years ago with my family because we were determined to start eating nutrient-dense food. At 20 years old I had just beaten Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of lymphatic cancer likely caused by an overloaded toxic environment. We were looking for answers. That answer was simply stated years past as "food as thy medicine". And so we got to work. We moved our century family farm away from chemical to biological. We started grazing ruminant animals and fed non-gmo, chemical free grains to the omnivores. We invested in coolers, trucks, processors, fuel and we hit the road. After 17 years on the road, over 100,000 boxes packed and delivered, countless hugs, handshakes, and conversations, we find ourselves ready for an exciting new chapter.
Wallace Farms has been providing for our family, friends, employees, and customers for 20 years, two wonderful decades. When we started those many years ago, I'm not sure our goal was to change agriculture. I think we were just looking to raise some healthy food, to bring the family farm back to life, to carve out a small artisan business. Over time as we grew, we could see the overwhelming benefits of this way of life. The farm came to life, the soil began to heal, the birds, bees, and butterflies all came back. More and more people became customers, "food as medicine" was resonating, culture was changing. It didn't take long to realize that this didn’t need to be an isolated success story in Keystone, Iowa. What if this could become the norm? What would that look like? What would need to be done?
Enter 99 Counties.
I was deeply inspired 3 years ago driving home from an Acres USA conference. Speakers at the conference were talking about solutions to repair soil, increase phyto-nutrients in food, and to create a farming culture that is reminiscent of the past while using the new technologies we have available today. My revelation began by asking the question of what would happen if each county in Iowa had a regenerative farmer producing grass fed beef, free-range pork and pasture-raised poultry? I ran the numbers...just 99 farmers...one representing each county…that was it, and it seemed so simple. It was a big number and a lot of food. All that month I ran more numbers and began to daydream about the real prospect of Iowa’s farming landscape changing. I became obsessed thinking about the farmers per county growing, the herds and flocks of animals that would undoubtedly accompany the new farmers. Acres of organic grain would be planted, harvested, and fed to pigs and poultry. Farms would begin the transition to chemical-free, biological based, organic farming.
The dream of 99 Counties is now a reality. We on-boarded 23 small, regenerative, family farmers this Spring and Summer and built a new website and door-to-door delivery service which launched on October 12th. So how did we get here? Last summer I met a new friend and business partner. Christian Ebersol, my now co-founder and CEO of 99 Counties, was traversing the Midwest in a pick-up truck looking for an incredible idea and a business partner. We quickly discovered that we had a shared passion to restore small-town Iowa and bring more regenerative agriculture to the world. We also realized that we had complementary skill-sets - I’m the farmer, the dreamer, and storyteller. Christian’s a reformed investment banker and venture capitalist with a new found love and appreciation for the land. He brings the technical business mind, organizational structures and attention to detail needed to make this dream a reality. Together we have hired a passionate team and are building a movement.
There are three pillars to this movement: Farmers, Artisan Food Makers, and Customers.
We are building this from the ground up, adding more and more farmers each month. We are working closely with processors to develop all those delicious cuts of meat and recipes you have come to love. The last and most important pillar rests with you. We can build a farming community to raise more animals. We can build a processor community to value-add and package more food, but we need customers like you to support the movement. We can build this together, one acre and one animal at a time…we hope you join us!
So how can you join and support this movement? We don’t just want a customer, we want a partner. We want to build a community. We want you to be as close and connected to your food as possible. For just $99 per year you can become a 99 Counties Member. As a member, you will receive free home delivery and 10% off all products, and in the future, access to special events and experiences curated around food and farming. If you’ve already joined the movement, thank you from the bottom of my heart for becoming a member of 99 Counties!