That was the reaction from some when they heard Debbie Wise’s vision for Kern County.
As the wife of a farmer, Debbie was quite familiar with the ag industry in Kern County. But it bothered her how so many of the products grown in the area are shipped elsewhere. So she put on the farmer’s hat herself and set out to fill a void. Combined with her philosophy on eating, which focuses on a grain-free diet because of a daughter with celiac disease, she wanted to bring something to the community that is locally grown, fresh and based on whole eating.
That is the foundation that Redhouse was built on.
Started in 2017, Redhouse employs a no-grains philosophy for its grass-fed, grass-finished pastured meats that, more importantly, feeds Kern County families.
“I wanted to focus on what I could create for Kern County first,” Debbie said.
The “unicorn of the industry,” Redhouse boasts an irrigated pasture, mob-grazing philosophy not commonly found in Kern County, growing grass blends that are specific to the nutritional value it wants for its cattle.
“Really, we’re grass farmers first and the cattle are the beneficiaries of that,” Debbie said.
WIFE, MOTHER, RANCHER
Nothing in agriculture is easy.
But when you throw live animals into the mix, the dedication and responsibility required increase dramatically.
“You don’t just get to walk away, because somebody relies on you or it dies,” Debbie said. “There’s never ‘I’ll get to that later.’”
But those duties don’t end when she steps away from the ranch. As a wife and mother, there are those at home who rely on her as well. From packing lunches at home to moving cattle and collecting eggs on the ranch, the days are long and strenuous.
“Some days, I question myself because there are a lot of long, hard days – a lot of blood, sweat and tears at times trying to get this off the ground,” Debbie said. “But this is my baby. This is my passion project.”
FARM TO (KERN COUNTY) TABLES
Kern County is home to some notable names in the ag industry. Bolthouse Farms, Wonderful Citrus and Grimmway Farms to name a few. But it is also home to smaller, family owned establishments growing a variety of products locally.
So why aren’t more of those products available in local markets? As “farm to table” continues to increase in popularity, why isn’t it as prevalent in a community rich in agriculture?
“We’re definitely the heart of ag,” Debbie said. “We’re really the heart of California in a lot of products we grow and what we do and we’re behind the trend of farm to table.”
But Debbie sees a shift in focus for Kern County growers, who are participating more in local farmers markets and working collaboratively with local businesses and restaurants. More efforts are being made to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers at the local level.
“I feel like there’s more farmers like me wanting to connect with the customer again and developing that relationship again, from the farm to the table,” Debbie said.
A FARM FOR THE COMMUNITY
It’s not uncommon to find Debbie on the ranch on Saturdays engaging with visitors and answering questions about Redhouse’s processes and products.
It’s just another duty she fulfills as president of Redhouse.
When she’s not dealing with livestock, maintaining the ranch or dealing with paperwork, she’s engaging with the community. It’s an opportunity for her to educate the community to be smarter shoppers and know what they are serving on their tables because she’s in the unique position of being a grower and a shopper herself.
“It’s been really fun for me to give ag back a voice to the community,” she said. “A lot of my passion was to try and really reconnect the community to the farm. People get to come to the farm and ask the farmer. I love that.”