CEO, local farmer hope to see next generations stay on the farm
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — With prices still rising from inflation, one food platform with a local branch in Chattanooga believes it can provide
a solution to aid struggling small farms.
The service’s mission? Lead locals to a wide selection of fresh food growing right in the heart of the community.
Nick Carter is a fourth-generation farmer.
He’s also the CEO of Market Wagon — an online service similar to GrubHub and DoorDash, connecting consumers to local farmers.
The platform originally served only six cities, but is now serving more than 30 due to the pandemic.
“Farmers markets were shut down, restaurants were shut down and it’s the small, local farmers who were really hit hard,” Carter said. “So
we saw that there was a massive opportunity and a big need that we could fill.”
In 2021, the service came to Chattanooga and caught the attention of some of the region’s local farmers, such as Samuel Carlton — a third-generation farmer at RC Farms in Rockvale, serving everything from pork and vegetables to beef and chicken.
“Farming on the smaller scale — it’s [really] tough,” Carlton said. “But through Market Wagon, they offer us to be able to reach more
customers that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach.”
Carter says farming is “in peril,” but believes his service can serve as a tool to “rethink what it means to produce food” on
one’s acres and sell directly to the consumer for a higher profit.
“By doing that, we’re creating enough economic enterprise that the next generation can actually stay on the farm and continue
to farm another generation,” Carter said. “That is deeply meaningful to me.”
Carlton stands behind Carter’s ambitions, saying the use of Market Wagon’s services can also benefit the local economy.
“That money’s getting to stay right there in the community,” Carlton said. “Instead of going to the big chains like Walmart, Kroger, stuff
like that, it gets to come home to a smaller family operation. That way, they can do something they love and get paid doing it.”
Carlton says he’s wanted to farm full-time since he was a boy.
He thanked Market Wagon for both his and the next generation’s opportunity to do so.
“For my granddaddy to have done it and my daddy … now my son [and I] are working side-by-side,” Carlton said. “My nephews work with us. You
know, God’s blessed us.”