- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ROCKPORT, Texas (AP) - Every day for about eight years, Justin Butts put on a button-up shirt, slacks and dress shoes and headed out the door to his corporate job.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (http://bit.ly/2f4GdjS ) reports Butts in 2008 decided to take a leap of faith - he left his job as a senior national sales executive for Coca-Cola and became a farmer.

“God called me into farming and I just knew I had to do it,” Butts said. “I had no previous experience at all. House plants I had would die. Everything I tried would fail.”

Butts hit the books, traveled and visited other farms and gardens in India, Europe, and the Himalayas. After his research, he and his wife Kayla Butts opened the Four String Farm in Rockport.

The couple started a farm share, which offers pastured pork, pastured poultry, fresh eggs and seasonal vegetables and herbs for sale throughout the year. They do not give any type of hormones, steroids or antibiotics to the animals and do not use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers on the plants, Justin Butts said.

“We rely on God so much to grow the food in the way that we do,” he said. “It is very difficult to do this in South Texas but God always, always provides.

“We want to share this, let people know it’s possible and educate them on the methods of how to grow food in their backyards,” he said.

The purpose of the farm is to serve and educate the community through providing fresh produce and offering classes and on health, wellness, and gardening.

The farmers use the Three Sisters method, which is a Native American system of planting corn, beans, and squash together. Another strategy used at the farm, located off of Highway 35, is the Intensive Successive Companions, which is a poly-culture way of planting herbs, vegetables, and fruit, he said.

Kayla Butts, a licensed dietitian, said she wants to help people reconnect with their food and teach first-time gardeners about these methods.

“We have evolved so far away from the relationship with our food that people get so enthusiastic when they find out this is possible,” Kayla Butts said. “People want the goodness that comes from knowing exactly where your food comes from.”

There are about 40 customers in the farm share. Delivery is available for customers in Rockport, but out of town customers can pick up their shares once a week every month.

Frank Scanio has been a customer of the farm for about three years. He said he and his family look forward to picking up their fresh produce every week.

“My wife and I have four young children and we didn’t want to feed them all the chemicals that are out there,” Scanio said. “I really like that everything is organic and that they don’t use any pesticides.

“It’s remarkable to have people like them in South Texas,” Scanio said.

The couple teaches gardening and cooking classes every month and they write columns and recipes for “The Bend” magazine. Justin Butts also is featured in the “Your Wholesome Heritage Garden” segment every week on KEDT radio - that’s how David Ruppert first heard about him.

Ruppert is an assistant professor of environmental soil science at Texas A&M; University-Kingsville. After visiting the farm in the spring, he now requires his students to complete a workday at the farm.

“The work Justin and Kayla are doing is really instructive to students,” Ruppert said. “They get to see what’s possible and they get to see a different type of agriculture from what they’re used to.

“It’s fascinating to see a living application of the principals that we are learning in the textbook that we are using,” he said.

When Justin Butts decided to leave his job to start farming, he went from traveling the world constantly to almost never being able to leave the farm. He said he and his wife know there are easier ways to make a living, and that they could both choose more lucrative careers.

“When you’re doing what God wants you to do there’s always joy and fulfillment,” Justin Butts said. “Making a living farming in this South Texas environment is almost impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

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