At Charlie's, we define our mission in this way:
To develop profit-generating goods and services that enhance the sustainability of agriculture, bringing benefits to society and the natural world.
Initially, when Charlie our founder first took over his grandfather’s farm in Vaughan, he raised a big garden and a lot of flowers, and had small flocks of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and sheep. He tried a few experimental crops new to the area like kenaf, amaranth, velvet beans, and Malabar spinach. He raised grass-fed beef and lamb, rotated on our pastureland, and sold shares of the meat at the local farmer’s market in Jackson, Mississippi.
Charlie got a Master’s degree at Yale Forestry School and is a big nerd about plants and animals. He has always had a lot of pets, and loves spending time with horses and mules. He trained a donkey to plow his garden, and took a pet pot-bellied pig to college in California with him. The pig, named Mr. T, slept at the foot of his bed and woke him up at 5 am to loud oinks demanding breakfast. When Charlie went to Yale, he took a whole trailer load of sheep with him, and studied their grazing effects on a meadow near campus.
After a period of time, we began to sell locally grown beef and lamb to restaurants and grocery stores, and harvesting livestock on a weekly basis. At that time, our demand began outstripping supply and we realized that the most important service we could provide the local food economy was as a skilled butcher of locally grown livestock. We began sourcing cattle and sheep from other farmers, and enhancing the quality of our meats by being really choosy about which stock to buy. We fed and conditioned the animals in our fields and barns to make sure they were harvested calmly and humanely, and the meat delivered to our customers on time. At this point, we realized that the best place to sell our meat was in Louisiana, and began to concentrate our efforts on New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
In 2014, we purchased the Springfield Slaughter House in Springfield, La. This allowed us to slaughter and process our animals ourselves, while controlling the supply of local livestock we handled. Our 120 or more restaurant supporters have purchased the bulk of this fresh meat. Though we no longer offer beef, lamb, or goat, our local domestic pork is award winning, claiming the Grand Prize at Hogs for the Cause last year.
We also have an amazing new service that we feel is a real win-win for the environment and for farmers. In 2015 we became the first slaughterhouse in the state to be licensed to process wild boar (feral hogs) under state inspection. Since then, these Louisiana wild boar whole carcasses and primal cuts have been available fresh to our restaurant wholesale customers, and Charlie’s Wild Boar Smoked Sausage has become available in most of the major grocery stores across Louisiana.
Charlie’s Wild Boar Sausage is produced in an incredibly authentic way. We specially custom-built a stainless steel smokehouse in our plant to cook the sausage. Outside the plant, a fire-box burns real oak hardwood. A special vacuum system draws the smoke from the fire-box into the smokehouse, and the result is an amazing real smoke flavor that you will recognize from traditional Cajun tin-shack style smokehouses. To have this flavor in a commercial product on the grocery store shelf is a really unique service. We are really proud of our tech man Brian MacManus, who engineered the construction and manages the smokehouse, and of our Exec Chef Via Fortier, who formulated our secret recipe. We offer three flavors of Charlie’s Sausage now, Original, Mild, and Green Onion. We have a partnership with Tabasco Sauce to promote our products together, so look for our demos at your local grocery store soon.
We are also looking forward to our partnership with Wayne Jacobs smokehouse to produce super-smoky pork products with no preservatives. This artisanal company has been known as the source of the world's best andouille, and is a cult favorite in Southeast Louisiana.