From farm to market to table, Annemarie Sullivan works every day to realize her vision of how much better what we eat can be. At Sullifarm and Kitchen - her Hooks, Texas, farm, shop and occasional restaurant - and in her role with the Texarkana, Texas, Farmers' Market, Sullivan puts into practice a food philosophy centered around natural, sustainable production methods, healthy eating and the joy of sharing both. We asked her about what she does, why, and how it connects with the world around us.
How do you explain what you do at the farm to people who are first learning about it?
We are a small farm local to Texarkana, specializing in producing pasture-raised meats and eggs, and hosting Sullifarm to Table events. We also partner with other small regenerative farms and small businesses from across East Texas to provide a variety of the best in local foods and goods through our on-farm shop.
How have your business and operations changed since you began?
It's been a solid seven years since first moving to the farm and getting animals. It is now my career and passion! In some ways, we've grown tremendously through the support of the local community. But when it comes to the standards and ideals behind why we started, those have stayed the same. Producing slow, real, good food.
What's the best part? What do you look forward to the most?
Recently I've loved doing more Sullifarm to Table events. People get to come out with friends and family and experience the best parts of farm life, and enjoy fresh local foods. The joy is palpable. I look forward to many parts of my everyday life, though, from the farm itself to the business to interactions with customers.
How do you see the farm fitting in with broader trends, cultural and economic changes?
Local, seasonal, organic, sustainability, supporting small business, health and wellness, good eating these are all trending topics right now. But here we don't see them as the kind of trend that comes and goes. We think they play an integral part in healthy communities, and they all play a role in our work.
Ultimately, we try not to use a lot of labels, though. We invite people to come out, ask questions, see, taste and experience. We are very transparent about how we operate and raise food. We believe it's in everyone's best interest to be knowledgeable about food, where it comes from and how it was grown, because it all plays a direct role in our health.
What is your typical customer like? Do you see any patterns, things they have in common?
We don't really have a typical customer.
It's always been important to me that when it comes to good food, it should be accessible to any and everyone. Now, is our food a little more expensive than the grocery store alternative, and a little more inconvenient to access? Yes, so that hinders some people. Yet we serve people from all walks of life, the common factor being that they all prioritize good, healthy food in their lives.
We don't want healthy food to just be available to the privileged or wealthy. And we're doing our best to change that dynamic while still working to prove small, sustainable, diversified farms can and should be profitable and viable in every community.
How does your work at the farm and your work for the city intersect?
I am the cultural food program coordinator for the Texarkana Farmers' Market. So it fits in my line of work quite well!
My main focus from the customer side is to encourage diversity and inclusivity, because locally grown, healthy food is for everyone. It's important that the market is a consistent resource, a fun experience and a wholesome alternative to the grocery store, so that's what I work to maintain.
From the vendor's side, I have a unique perspective, once being a vendor myself. Working in a managing role I have a good opportunity to support the vendors, see what the market needs to be successful, and make it happen.
(For more information, visit Sullifarm.com or Sullifarmandkitchen on Facebook and Instagram.)