3 Questions with Kris Karl: How Karl Family Farms Began

There's a lot that goes into operating a family farm and in this first post in an ongoing series, Kris Karl will share some history about how Karl Family Farms began.

It was 2011 when the Karl Family and a group of devoted friends began their journey to establish a farm and build a business based on the humane treatment of their livestock. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years!

Since then, Farmer Kris has lead the business in successfully preparing and selling delicious pasture-raised jerky. In this post well look at what motivated this busy dad to establish the farm by learning about where his passion for farming comes from, how the farm got started and why jerky became the number one seller.

How Did You Get into Humane and Sustainable Farming?

I wasn't born a farmer but it's a big part of who I am.

It started when I was a teenager. I was doing the regular thing of going from high school to college. Working really hard but it wasn't feeling right and I think it showed. Eventually, a professor I trusted introduced me to a friend of his who ran a farm. They though it would be a good idea for me to go out there to work with the animals and learn about how a farm is run. So, I was young, so I went for the whole summer.

It was just the thing I needed. Learning how to run a farm and raise animals with respect lit a fire under me. This was the passion I was looking for. From then on, I did everything I could to keep practicing humane farming with livestock and other farm animals. I chased down all of the information I could and worked with other farmers who practiced pastured techniques, and learned more and more about sustainable farming practices.

How Did Karl Family Farms Get Started?

First came the farm, then came the jerky.

When my youngest came along, I really wanted to raise him on a farm, so my wife and I decided that's what we would do.

We looked around for a while and finally we found this farm in Modena, New York, that was large enough for us to homestead and provide enough surplus to possibly make a business work. Except it was completely grown over. The barn was falling down.

But we saw the possibly in ever square foot. With the help of friends and family, we rebuilt, refurbished, and refitted the farm for a modern 21st century operation. We started off small, selling fresh grass-fed steak and pastured pork at farmers markets but it created too much waste for my liking.

Making jerky and salami with our meats let cut waste, and it sold pretty well. So, this was around 2016, we only sold at farmer's markets and local shops in the Hudson valley. We spent years looking for a network of partners who met our quality standards so we could offer our snacks to more and more people. Finally, by 2019, we put our products online, so I think that's when we officially started.

When Did You First Start Making Jerky?

My love of Jerky goes back to childhood - my best friend had some in his lunch box one day, I still remember it, and I was hooked ever since. My dad and I would eat it when hiking and hunting. We'd get it from the butcher who'd hand it to me in folded down paper.

I started experimenting making jerky when I got a little older. I was had a lot of food sensitivities around me, so decided to only make everything gluten and chemical free, as natural as possible, so they could be enjoyed by all - especially my kids. This is where some of our favorite flavors come from, like our "Original Beef Jerky Recipe" and "Bee Sting Beef Jerky." I loved making it so much and it sold so well, it just made sense to keep doing it and trying new things. I've got new flavors coming out soon.

Karl Family Farms Offerings Ten Years Later

Ten years after they first stepped foot on their farm, the Karl family now offers a variety of high quality products.

You can pick up fresh, grass-fed and pasture-raised meat products right from the farm.

Additionally, their delicious, nutritious, and humanely raised meat snacks can be delivered anywhere in the U.S. -- check out the full line of bites, jerky and sticks here.