Small Business Spotlight: Eleven Oak Farms LLC
Eleven Oak Farms LLC is a family owned and operated farm in Cumberland County that produces some of the finest beef in the nation. We spoke to Jim Shuster of Eleven Oaks about his farming philosophy and how recent funding through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) will help his business continue to grow.
Why is your beef product unique?
One of the family businesses we operate is Newville Construction, and about five years ago, we broke into farming so we could grow straw for this business. A year or so later, we were in Key West, Fl., and had a delicious cut of Kobe beef — a rare form of beef that comes from Wagyu, a Japanese type of cattle. The Wagyu beef is certainly a premium, and it is known and loved for its distinct flavor profile, buttery texture, extreme tenderness, and perfect marbling. It was so delicious that we came back a few days later to order more, but found out the restaurant had run out.
This was a lightbulb moment for my family. We immediately started researching Wagyu and found very few farmers raising this type of cattle. We knew that this was an opportunity to meet the market’s demand – so we bought a few of our own and started Eleven Oaks Farms.
We believe in raising cows the humane way, in an open pasture and low-stress environment. The way we care for our animals helps us produce some of the finest meat in the country. We market and sell our own beef to restaurants, and cater to whatever the chef desires. Wagyu is certainly not an everyday menu item, but many restaurants will feature it as a weekend or holiday special.
How do you engage with your local community?
To us, being a neighbor means a lot more than just living next door to someone. We operate our farms — and our other businesses — with the community in mind. We try to source everything we need for the farm in Newville first. In fact, our butcher is a mile-and-a-half down the road.
We believe in bringing new money back into the community through our farm, and then using this money to support local business and create jobs. We also try to buy farms in the community that are no longer active, reviving them to what the farm once was.
Why are you Pennsylvania proud?
Our location in southcentral Pennsylvania is essential. Nearby Carlisle is a transportation hub, with proximity to both I-81 and I-83. We have started growing concentrically from there, starting with York and Chambersburg and moving to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and beyond.
We also have a great relationship with the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation. They have introduced us to many restaurant contacts, and, most recently, helped us apply for a PIDA loan. With the great demand for Wagyu beef, we knew we needed to increase production.
Through PIDA we were awarded a $227,500, 15-year loan at 4 percent, which will enable us to purchase an additional 98.2 acres. We also received a $250,000 grant from the USDA for assistance in marketing our products.
In addition to the new land that we will be able to purchase, we are excited to introduce more heritage hogs to our farm. We are currently raising Gloucestershire hogs, an English hog that happens to be the preferred hog of the Royal Family.
We are so glad that we’re raising our animals on Pennsylvania soil, and we are looking forward to working together with our community to grow the local economy for many years to come.
The Small Business Spotlight is a monthly series posted on the second Saturday of the month which highlights businesses and their owners who are positively impacting their local community.
To learn more about PIDA and how your company can apply, visit DCED’s website. Continue to stay up to date with all of Pennsylvania’s latest news and program announcements by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter or by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.