Back to their roots
Singleton Farms is a destination.
The family-run Farm Fresh Market celebrated its grand opening Sept. 8, despite gloomy skies and unprecedentedly low temperatures. Visitors who braved the elements supported local farmers and producers by buying fresh, and the Singleton family made sure they had a good time doing it. To them, farming is more than just a job – it’s an experience to be shared with others.
“Families can come out and we’ll give them a tour of the place,” Andy Singleton said. “They can see the goats and the llamas, and the pretty little stripy cows. If they want, we’ll give them a tour and talk about our process. We’re basically just showing people that natural tastes a lot better.”
Lisa and Andy said nothing ever gave them the idea to start farming together; it’s something they have always wanted to do. The high school sweethearts met at 17 and 18. They started dating after Andy returned from boot camp in Georgia, and they got married after their first year of college at West Texas A&M University.
They were both raised as farmers in small towns in the Panhandle. Growing up, Andy and Lisa lived in incredibly rural areas, and farming just happened to be the norm. In fact, Andy’s hometown was so small that in high school, his graduating class had a total of seven students; his brother’s only had two.
Once the fresh-faced couple got to college, they decided to go in a new direction. Lisa earned a degree in marketing, and Andy found his niche in computer information systems.
They began college as a couple of small-town sweethearts, farm kids with a lot of ambition. They graduated as a married couple with degrees that could take them anywhere. They used their diplomas to find suitable careers, and before they knew it they had spent 20 years working for big corporations.
Still, the idea of starting a farm never left them.
“We were farmers and ranchers growing up, and we knew we wanted to get back to this,” Andy said. “But we wanted to do it in a different way. We wanted to do farm-to-table.”
As soon as they had enough land to start building their dream, they got to work. Singleton Farms is a project that’s been years in the making, and it’s taken a team.
The multi-generational farm-fresh market is completely family-run and operated. Andy and Lisa’s children, Phillip and Kat, are an integral part of the farm’s success. They take on the bulk of the gardening responsibilities, and they keep things running alongside Lisa’s mother, Katherine “Gammie” Underwood, who lives on the farm with the family.
Kat, 19, recently graduated from Pilot Point High School and is enrolled in college. Phillip, 24, hopes to get a degree in nursing at Texas Women’s University. Although both young people enjoy working on the farm, they aren’t always available to help on top of their school responsibilities, so the Singletons employ one high school student to aid in the daily chores. They warn that it is hard work.
The family also agrees that, despite being a lot of fun to visit, the biggest draw of the farm is nutrition.
“People nowadays are so interested in clean eating, you know?” said Lisa. “They want to know where their food comes from, they want to know the local producers. People want to eat what’s made around them.”
Singleton Farms sells local grass-fed beef, pork, chicken, goat and lamb. They also sell eggs and honey, and Gammie is known for her homemade breads and sweet butters. People have traveled from Grand Prairie just to get a slice of her “famous bread,” the Singletons said. Jams and jellies are also available for purchase, as are spaghetti sauce, pesto, gourmet balsamic oil and vinegar, cheeses, and high probiotic yogurts.
The Singletons raise most but not all of the products available for purchase. Several other vendors are represented at the market. The lettuce variety, for example, is grown hydroponically by Elliot Grows LLC. The market even offers a vegan cheese selection from Good Earth Cheese as well as soaps and lotions from Cypress Lake Ranch.
The food is fresh, clean, and chemical-free. The Singletons say customers can taste the difference. However, the food is not technically organic. That term, the family said, has become a marketing one.
“We aren’t certified organic,” Andy said. “We’ve looked into it before, but there’s just so many hoops you have to jump through. It’s expensive, they come out here and run all kinds of tests, in the soil and all. There’s a six to seven year rollback on it.”
At the end of the day, Andy said the food is basically the same as organic, it just doesn’t have the “official organic stamp” to be marketed as such. Despite lacking the certification, everything grown on the farm is chemical- and pesticide-free. The Singletons said even the water is incredibly clean. They use filtered rainwater for all of their farming needs, something they are incredibly proud of. They even drink the rainwater and constantly have guests taste it to see the difference.
The Singletons said they were surprised by how well-known the market has become in such a short amount of time. With very little advertising, crowds started off big and have continued to grow.
“Word of mouth has been great,” Lisa said, laughing. “People come, and they’re impressed. So they come back and they bring their friends, and then they come back and they bring more friends, and so on and so forth. People really enjoy being here and seeing the animals. I had one lady tell me that being out here is the only time her son ever puts his phone down.”
The farm fresh market is just the beginning. The Singletons have big plans for the family-run working farm. They want to begin teaching educational classes on a variety of farming subjects. They’re hoping to launch their first class in October and to teach a series on rain water collection. They also want to create a rest area and serve food.
“Ultimately, we want this to be a destination people from all round come to, like the tulip farm,” Andy said. “We have a lot of big ideas in store for this place.”
Singleton Farms is at 1900 N. St. James Road in Pilot Point, behind the main house. The market is open to the public from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, from 10-6 p.m. Friday, from 10-4 p.m. Saturday and from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday. People can also make special orders and appointments as needed by calling, texting or emailing. The market’s main number is 214-693-6207 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.