Welcome to Vraé
My name is Delbert Garrett, founder of Garrett Cattle Company/GCC Organics. I am reaching out today to update our new and continuing customers with our story from creation to our present. I will discuss briefly our creation story, then discuss our recent past up to where we are presently and discuss the plans for our farm's future. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this amazing journey.
Our farm as it came to be is a childhood dream of mine. Every summer my grandparents would come pick me and my brother up in late May/early June, and take us for the summer to Michigan, the farm, and my dad. This was the highlight of my year, and included milking cows, baling hay, and jamborees. My grandpa called square dances, played fiddle, and loved to dance. My grandma played piano and loved to dance with my grandpa. In 2008, I took over management of the farm and in 2014 purchased it. By then, the farm looked drastically different from my childhood.
Farm circa 1980s
As far as management of land is concerned, I have always felt animals and the land deserve each other. When managed correctly, it is a symbiotic relationship. Multi-species-stacked enterprises are best for the land and the farmer. I also felt that sustainable farming should limit the use of synthetic or un-natural inputs that farmers administer to their animals and land. Nature knows best until people mismanage. This led to certified organic status. After many years, it was a difficult decision to drop our certification status. We discovered that the costs and arduous application process wasn't worth it. We found that we had built trust and confidence from our customers to know we would continue to produce the best quality products while adhering to better than organic standards.
Cows on Pasture
As small and direct as we are with you, we feel that we can show and tell you how we exceed organic certification criteria rather than spending a bunch of money on a certification.
We initially sold word-of-mouth, online, and through the Mt Pleasant Farmer’s Market. In 2016, my father- and mother-in-law, Doug and Jennifer, moved here from Colorado to help grow the business. We became a part of the City Market in Bay City and expanded to 5 other Michigan farmer’s markets. In 2020, we realized our sales model was not cost effective, and then the pandemic hit which changed everything.
My kids at our City Market Location
We were selling products that are expensive to raise and expensive to deliver to our customers. I kept thinking our problem was scale, and it probably was, mostly, but we never managed to breakeven, let alone make a profit. At our peak in 2017, we raised nearly 7000 chickens and 2000 turkeys with sales upwards of $190k. If any of you read my book, you know most of our turkeys didn’t make it. Beginning in 2019 and through 2020, we attempted our hand in the new industrial hemp market. We had an investor who wanted to get in on it, and we had land, time, and employees. We made the shift with the hopes of making a living wage for two families. That endeavor failed to generate any meaningful income. From 2016 to 2019, I was also attending Central Michigan University, where I graduated with a bachelors and a masters, both in entrepreneurship. I developed great ideas about the farm and our business structures. With Doug’s insight and my education, Vraé (which means “true”) was born.
My grandparents passed away in early March of 2021. They are the reason I love this farm. I miss them every day. Without their guidance and with the lack of income from the farm, I pivoted, leading me to getting a job at CMU in the billing department, in May 2021.
My grandparents holding my boys.
After 15 years of chasing my dreams, reality hit that I needed to pay my bills and regroup. I still carry the conviction of land management with animals. I still want to provide you with great meat. We are focusing on whole and half beef, pork, and lamb, along with custom cut whole chickens. Our production is based on pre-orders and deposits. We no longer offer individual cuts as we are not keeping inventory. Our only sale avenue is through our website and phone. We are not jumping on the inflation wagon yet and raising prices. We are still offering free delivery after payment. There is such joy in delivering a high-quality product when the messy financial transaction is already completed. I know Doug really enjoys that time with you as well. My prayer for 2022 is for the farm to turn a profit.
All sales will now be from our easy-to-use website (https://vraefoods.com) and of course we would love to discuss your needs via telephone/text 989-R.U-VRAE (989-718-8723).
Welcome to Vraé