North Texas Daily

Give the people what they want, Let Them Eat Local

Give the people what they want, Let Them Eat Local

02/15/17 Denton, TexasLet Them Eat Local Denton C.E.O., Charlyn Woolley and her husband, Joshua Woolley explain about Let Them Eat Local Denton and how local foods are good for people at Woolley’s house.Credit: Koji Ushio

Give the people what they want, Let Them Eat Local
March 22
18:35 2017

Charlyn and Joshua Woolley want you to think of 100-degrees under an August sun in Texas when you have locally-raised beef for dinner. In the fresh fruits and vegetables you eat, they want you to appreciate the mother or father who likely spent hours, back bent, picking and harvesting, just to have a chance at seeing their kids at home before they go to sleep. They want you to know that food means more to them than just the colors and smells on your plate.

“If you educate yourself and learn where your food comes from, it might start to bother your conscience,” Charlyn said. “I think we have a responsibility to be mindful about our food. When you take a bite out of your food, that is you voting with your dollars.”

Let Them Eat Local is Charlyn and Joshua’s business, first started out of their Denton home. After concerns from the health department, they quickly found out they couldn’t exactly run a good business out of their garage due to several laws and regulations prohibiting such an impromptu endeavor. The couple then decided to go full force into their for-profit delivery service.

They now pay rent on a warehouse unit and have the proper permits, transportation and consumer base to make deliveries every Saturday to eager North Texas customers.

Joshua and Charlyn are the types of people who can get sidetracked talking about food because of how much they love it, where it came from and who grew it.

Joshua (left), Tirza (center) and Charlyn Woolley (right), inspect a dozen eggs from local Sanger farm, Crazy Feathers Farm, while preparing the day’s deliveries. On Saturday’s, Let Them Eat Local delivers their bushels of local products around North Texas. Kyle Martin

If you might be curious as to where they might find inspiration, look no further than Ram Trucks’ 2013 Super Bowl commercial, “Farmer.” Listen to Paul Harvey when he says, “And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker,’ so God made a farmer.”

“What we’re doing is not the normal way people do their groceries,” Joshua said, a licensed engineer who works as a project controls director on construction projects across the country. “The goal is not for this to take the place of my job. The goal is for this to sustain itself.”

Now, after over a year of operations underway, they’re meeting their minimums and beginning to cover rent on their warehouse unit with revenues from customers around North Texas.

A homeschooled, family business

“We’re Christians,” Charlyn said. “We believe God created us to work. What brings us joy is doing what we were made to do.”

On the wall of the living room of the Woolley’s home, a “Family Tree” hangs in the shape of photographs, dating back generations on both sides of Charlyn and Joshua’s family.

Family is something invaluable to the Woolleys. It’s your legacy, as Charlyn puts it. It’s all you’ve got.

When you sit down for a meal with the Woolley’s in the home, their eyes light up because they’re excited to tell you how much more than just food is on the table. If they’re serving chicken, they’ll probably want you to know that in spirit there’s Skipp and Heather Ratliff from Crazy Feathers Farm in Sanger, Texas, joining for the night. If you’re eating the Bavarian Cream yogurt for dessert, they’ll probably take a video of your initial reaction and show it to the folks at Wolfe Pen Creek Farmstead Cheese in East Texas because that’s how much they care about the generations of history behind that special recipe (and because they really do love that yogurt).

Food to them speaks volumes and tells stories of hardships, struggles, dedications, triumphs and families.

“I’m inspired to teach people to appreciate what we grow locally, seasonally, here,” Charlyn said. “The whole business is birthed out of my joy for cooking for my family.”

This is an award given to Joshua’s grandfather, Cliff Grueschow, whose claim to fame is designing the shock absorbers used for the lunar rovers during early stages of lunar and space exploration in American history. This award hangs in the study of the Woolley’s house as a reminder of the importance they find in family and legacy. Koji Ushio

Charlyn is one of five kids on her side of the family and Joshua is one of six.  Both of them were homeschooled by their own parents, along with their siblings. Now with six kids of their own, they aim to spread their love of family and food to the generations that live after them.

“We joke around with people and tell them it was too expensive to feed six kids and so we had to open a grocery store,” Charlyn said.

Joshua and Charlyn’s passions in family, mixed with their passions for running a business they are proud of and enjoy, are something they say they want to pass on to their six children. All six children are homeschooled by the Woolley parents. They say that what they are trying to teach their children is the freedom to learn whatever they want and use their knowledge to design a future that they want to take part in.

They also want to teach their children all about what it means to put pride into what can be done with a little, or a lot, of hard work.

It just so happens, Charlyn and Joshua said, that their kids also like to help run the family business.

“There’s a lot of things they get to learn that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn elsewhere,” Joshua said. “Having a family business allows us to give them more meaningful work.”

Their kids, Lydia (12), Sarah (9), Tirzah (7), Nate (5), Evelyn (3) and Ruthie (1), often pack into their massive Nissan NV passenger van and head off on field trips to farms, the dump and other places where they learn about how their food gets to and from their table.

Saturdays, however, are the delivery days.

A well-oiled machine

This is where the whole family gets involved, along with Jayme Andujar, 35, who drives the whole crew around to drop of their bushels of goodies.

“I really wanted to focus on what was going on in my state and my neighborhood,” said Andujar, 35, a Private First Class in the National Guard and worker at The Village Church in Denton. “And this is just another aspect of that.”

After Andujar and his family met the Woolley’s through a previous dairy co-op they were all involved in, the Woolley’s started to pursue their business. They needed a driver, and Andujar was the man for the job.

“I just want to give back and serve my community,” Andujar said.

Because the Woolley’s have such a devout appreciation for what it means to be a family and what locally grown food means to neighboring families, Charlyn and Joshua put all hands on deck, forming an interesting take on an assembly line with the kids to fill their baskets of food, or their “bushels,” as they call them. Because they’re kids, they go between work and play pretty frequently. Saturdays, even as workdays for the Woolley’s and company, are fun.

Locals can buy Texas-grown fruits and vegetables from Let Them Eat Local in bushels, half bushels, pecks and/or monthly subscriptions. In this round of deliveries, patrons would find blueberries, bananas, hydroponic lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, bok choy, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and many more products in their custom, Texas-made LTEL baskets. Kyle Martin

Custom, Texas-made baskets hold the week’s seasonal picks and one by one each man, woman and child hand packages the baskets, making sure that no bruised fruit or wilted cabbage makes it into a customer’s kitchen. Customers can choose from a wide inventory of products, and can buy fresh fruits and produce by the “Full Bushel,” “Half-A-Bushel,” “Just A Peck!” and even monthly subscriptions.

“If we could get [farmers] a steady demand and they can count on that, then they can focus on what they do best,” Joshua said, noting that their baskets contain about 50 percent of Texas-local products. “Really, our goal is to be 80 percent local in the baskets. Bananas will always be in the baskets and those aren’t grown locally.”

The Let Them Eat Local crew, before a delivery on a Saturday in February.
Back row: L to R, Charlyn Woolley, Joshua Woolley, Jayme Andujar. Front row (kids) L to R, Tirzah(7), Evelyn (3)(in pink), Sarah (9), Ruthie (1), Lydia(12), Nate (5). Kyle Martin

Inside the baskets, customers can often find themselves delving into tangerines, pears, bok choy, hydro-ponic lettuce, apples, green onions and more. Winter is harder to get all local ingredients because of the climate, but that’s why the Woolley’s find it even more important to keep their business going. During slow months of the year or during times when produce and fruits spoil in the heat of a Texas summer, farmers lose profit on lost goods.

With their business, the Woolley’s are hoping to enhance the diets of local consumers while creating a different platform for farmers to sell their products, even during times when business might be slow.

“Part of our goal is providing the farmers with a market,” Charlyn said. “What we’re trying to do is provide them a steady demand. And through us, it’s a guaranteed sale.”

Featured Image: Let Them Eat Local Denton C.E.O., Charlyn Woolley and her husband, Joshua Woolley explain about Let Them Eat Local Denton and how local foods are good for people at Woolley’s house. Koji Ushio

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Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

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