Local Flavor

Ernst Family Farms creates pasture-to-plate success story.

Some might say it has everything to do with location. Others might say it was sheer luck. Deep down, the Ernst family of Ernst Family Farms near New Douglas knows having a quality product ultimately deserves all the kudos for helping them grow their operation into a farm-to-table success story. Owned by David Ernst, Ernst Family Farms brings beef production full circle in the shadows of St. Louis.

Just a few years ago David and Whitney Ernst, along with their two daughters, operated a commercial cow-calf, backgrounding, and small finishing operation along with marketing halves and quarters privately to friends and neighbors. They often toyed with turning the enterprise into a full-scale business focused on marketing individual cuts after customers kept requesting more ground beef. In 2016, they went to a farmers market to see if they could really turn a profit with the direct-to-consumer market.

Today, the family works with two local processors and has a constant supply of individual beef cuts in a walk-in freezer situated in a building that serves as a retail location on their family farm. Their direct-to-consumer business has taken off since their first farmers market in 2016. They currently sell beef cuts from the “meat shop” adding a discount for those customers that will pick up their order from the farm with about 90 percent of their business coming from farmers markets. You can find Ernst Family Farms beef at a farmers market in Edwardsville every Saturday during the season and on Thursday nights in Maryville.

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Ernst Family