Our farming network started as a small coalition of family farmers in the
lush foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Now it extends to 150 family farmers in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas, all of whom follow the same ethos of respect for the animals and the land. We’ve remained
independent from large agribusinesses and large vertical integration systems and intend to continue operating that way.
Pride in our work, and our way of doing things the right way — not necessarily the fast way — is what unites us. By supporting True Story, you’re supporting sustainable farming communities dedicated to raising meat right.
Russ Kremer is a fifth-generation hog farmer in the town of Frankenstein in Osage County, Missouri, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains where he grew up. Russ knows the struggles and satisfactions of being a small, independent farmer firsthand, and is committed to helping preserve the way of life of small family farms that care deeply about the land and the animals.
Russ: I grew up on the farm, helping my father raise hogs. There was never anything else I wanted to do. It’s been quite a journey to become the farmer I am today, though. I graduated from college in the early 1980s in the midst of a deep financial crisis. It was a very tough introduction to independence. I started to implement the efficiency-oriented practices I had learned about in school at my father’s farm. I saw firsthand how detrimental that was to the health of the animals, the environment, and to people. I realized that I didn’t want to raise my animals in a way that would rely on antibiotics. It was either leave farming forever, or find a way to raise the animals the slow way, using hardy breeds that thrive outdoors. I traveled across Europe and learned a lot about different breeds and practices used by small farmers there, learnings which I then took back to my farm and my community. I’m so glad I made the choice that I did.
Russ: We started the co-op here in Osage County as a way of helping farmers remain independent while making a sustainable and dependable income. The farm families of True Story are also ensured the opportunity for a profit, return on investment and a good means of supporting their families and communities.
Russ: My farm is made up of 150 acres that have been in my family for a century. I bought it from my great aunts, who were really my first introduction to sustainable farming. It’s a perfect piece of land for raising hogs because it has so many natural barriers—hills, rocks, trees, vegetation—and very rich soil. There is so much for the animals to explore, graze and forage. I think of my farm as a pig paradise!
Russ: All the seasons are beautiful in their own way, but fall is particularly special here in Osage County. The tree line is lit up with red, orange and yellow leaves. It’s a magical time.