Homeplace Pastures celebrates opening
By John Howell
It was another one of those great days in Como, this time celebrating the grand opening of Home Place Pastures processing plant and butcher shop at the Bartlett’s family farm a few miles east of town.
Almost 200 people — friends, community and economic development leaders joined the Bartlett family for the ribbon-cutting event that also included a buffet-line sampling of pork and beef products raised and expertly prepared close by.
“It is the ideal of an economic developer when our children can come home and create opportunities as entrepreneurs starting new businesses,” Panola Partnership Executive Director Joe Azar said.
Azar’s remarks followed an invocation by Rev. Don Chancellor and introduction by Como Main Street Alliance President Kate Patterson.
“Marshall’s vision of life has come true right here; we’re standing in it,” Azar said, referring to Home Place Pastures’ Co-founder and President Marshall Bartlett. Marshall’s brother, Jemison Bartlett is Home Place Pastures Chief Financial Officer. The brothers are the fifth generation of the family that established the farm in 1871.
The vision includes livestock raised in surrounding pastures and processed on-site for distribution to the South’s top chefs and for sale in the facility’s retail shop.
In her remarks, District 11 Representative Lataisha Jackson recalled Home Place Pastures August, 2016 Boucherie where renowned chefs from Memphis to New Orleans responded to invitation to a two-day music and food event at the farm on Home Place Road, where they each prepared Home-Place-produced pork and other meats into their own recipes for presentation and sampling by guests.
“He’s given Como and Panola County a great spotlight,” Jackson said. She said that she appreciated Home Place Pastures investment in their dream and in the Como economy.
“It’s important that we shop local and support our local economy,” she said.
“We’re just getting started,” Marshall Bartlett said, noting that Friday was a celebration of the opening of the retail store and reaching a milestone in the project’s third year.
Those first three years began with raising slaughter-ready livestock in surrounding pastures.
“We graze our animals on pastures, all naturally, as you can look out and see,” Marshall Bartlett said. “They’re not confined on concrete; we don’t give them any weird stuff in their feed.”
“Our emphasis is on the animals’ quality of life which also makes the meat much better,” Marshall continued. “It tastes better; it’s healthier for you.”
The quality of the meat attracted customers in the wholesale market — restaurants in New Orleans, Memphis, Jackson, Oxford and Little Rock.
“Some of the best chefs in the country buy our product every week,” he said.
Immediate plans include opening the slaughter operation by the summer, the Home Place president continued.
“We’re federally inspected; we have the USDA guys here that inspect our whole process,” Marshall said.
The USDA certification allows meat processed at Home Place Pastures to be distributed across state lines. The facility will also process meat for other producers, removing an obstacle that hinders farmers who would otherwise market locally-raised meat
“If anyone is trying to farm and do what we’re doing, one of the main challenges is they don’t have access to a facility where they can get it processed,” Marshall said.
Completion of the slaughter operation this summer will provide that access.