Next generation uses unique ideas to preserve Missouri’s farming tradition
America’s farms have undergone vast changes since the country’s first immigrants chose a piece of fertile Missouri ground to sustain their family and community. A time when Grandpa sweated and toiled alongside his children and grandchildren, teaching them all he knew about farming, is no longer the norm. In the past few years, a desire to find fresh produce and meat from local farmers seems to be the trend for families seeking a healthy alternative for their dinner table.
One family whose roots go back many generations is preserving the farming tradition by using sustainable agricultural practices. In addition to keeping the farm productive, they bring fresh, antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-grazed meat products to their community.
Brush Creek in rural Crawford County meanders gently through the countryside, starting near Cuba and emptying into the Bourbeuse River in Gasconade County. More than 200 of the Stubblefield family’s Angus-cross beef cattle graze hundreds of acres of green pastures along its banks. Black Poland China cross hogs forage in the shaded woods along the creek. The farm has a rich history. Ervin and Mary Jean, the parents of owner Drew Stubblefield, hand-milked 20 cows for many years. Later, portable bucket milkers were used for a herd of 100 cows. The Stubble-fields also raised hogs until the late ’70s.
Drew and his wife, Missy, are thrilled their children have found a way to continue the farming legacy by using a few commonsense ideas. In June 2018, the Stubble-field farm took on a new mission and changed its name to Brush Creek Valley Farms. They began selling their products later that same summer. Missy said she and Drew were excited when Matt shared his ideas about sustainable farming and in particular, offering beef, pork, and chicken products on a subscription-based program.
“This is one more thing I can see the farm achieve,” Drew says. “I thought it was a great idea.”
All four Stubbleﬁ eld children — Jesse, Andy, Matt and Erin — were raised on the family farm. It was Matt, though, who had the dream of offering a different kind of service to their community, including offering monthly subscription boxes to families looking for healthy alternatives. To help kickstart their business, they attended a conference featuring farmer, lecturer and author Joel Salatin, who approaches farming in a holistic way. These new concepts helped Matt formulate a plan.
“Our hogs forage in the woods, tilling the soil and feeding,” Matt says. “The cattle graze on green grass, rotating between nine different ﬁelds. It keeps the grass healthy and fertilizes the ground. They do the work they are naturally supposed to do.”
University of Missouri Extension deﬁnes sustainable agriculture as “practices that are proﬁ table, environmentally sound, and beneﬁcial to local communities and society in general.”
“We feel this is the best way for farmers to make use of every bit of land and not be one dimensional,” says Matt’s wife, Rockael. “We are the farmers that deliver the product we raised. We do every single step.”
The Crawford Electric Cooperative members are content to be called next generation farmers, along with their son Joey and daughter Meera, who they hope will love the farm as much as they do. Joey spends a lot of time next to his daddy, running the farming operation. Meera travels along with mom making deliveries. Rockael handles a multitude of behind-the-scenes duties and coordinates deliveries, while Erin is responsible for the web design and product photography.
“It’s kind of like a boutique farm,” Erin says. “We want to maintain the craftsmanship of farming.”
Wyatt, a German shepherd and husky mix, is Matt’s “right-hand man,” accompanying him through the day’s chores. As Matt drives his Kubota through the farm’s paddocks, he points out his favorite cow who had worked her way to the front of the herd.
“Annie was my ﬁrst cow that I showed at the fair as a little kid,” he said. “She’s over 20 years old and still had a calf last year.”
While Brush Creek Valley Farms does not sell poultry or eggs, the farm does sell young Cinnamon Queen laying hens for $25.
One of the farm’s unique concepts is monthly subscription boxes. The process is simple. Customers sign up on the farm’s website and are contacted by email a week before the custom box is offered for delivery. The cost for each box is $150 plus tax. Customers may opt-out by replying to the email. All meat products are flash-frozen to ensure freshness and premium quality. Each standard subscription box contains pasture-raised pork or beef. Pork cut choices include thick-cut bacon, breakfast sausage, bratwurst, spareribs or loin roasts. Beef choices include, but are not limited to, sirloin, T-bones, rib-eyes, roasts and ground beef. Whole hogs and half and whole beef are available for wholesale or retail to suit each customer.
“We want to provide premium meat to our customers without them ever leaving their home,” Rockael says. Due to customer demand outside of the 20-mile radius, the farm added delivery service statewide. Brush Creek Valley products also are available at the Cuba Mace Super-market and the Rock Bridge Hy-Vee in Columbia. Their products also are available at Frisco’s Grill & Pub and The FourWay in Cuba, Just a Taste in St. James and Peaceful Bend Winery in Steelville.
“This opportunity has really opened our eyes to a different market,” Rockael says. “We are now really thinking outside the box.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stubblefields offered next-day delivery to local customers who couldn’t find meat products in supermarkets. The farm also offers a recipe blog on its website, full of tips to help customers cook their newly purchased meat products. Recipes include sausage and cheddar quiche, Missy’s biscuits and gravy, cottage pie, ham and beans and basic meat cooking tips.
The farm was named the 2018 New Business of the Year by the Cuba Chamber of Commerce. Building on its success, the family has been busy showcasing their products at many Missouri events. They participated in the Best of Missouri Life Market Fair at Powell Gardens in Kingsville, showcasing the “Stubby Chubby Burger” made with their farm fresh sausage.
Matt is pleased by the family’s success but isn’t surprised by the customers who seek to put local, healthy products on their dinner tables and barbeque grills all year long.
“It’s been a ride,” says Matt. “I didn’t expect it to get this big in such a short time. It’s stressful, but a lot of fun. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
To learn more about Brush Creek Valley Farms, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 573-241-1221, visit www.brushcreekvalley.com, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brushcreekvalleyfarms.