Raeford, North Carolina
Stephanie Carter and her dad, John Carter, alongside their family, own and operate Ithíka Acres Creamery in Raeford, North Carolina.
The Carters make a variety of goat-milk products, such as goat cheese, goat milk fudge and goat milk soap on their 101-acre farm, where they have lived since 2000.
Where it all began…
John grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, far from farm life. During his junior year at the University of Georgia, he decided to try his hand at agriculture, just as a hobby. However, he soon got hooked. Alison, now his wife, came down south from New York to attend veterinary school. And ever since, the Carters have been involved in agriculture.
“It's been our life,” John said. “We bought this property and we've developed it from nothing.”
After graduating from Appalachian State University with a marketing degree, Stephanie returned to the family farm. She was full of new ideas about what kind of business they could create as a family.
After a lot of brainstorming, the Carters decided to start a goat creamery. They saw the popularity of and demand for goat products growing among their community and jumped in.
“Building the creamery took a few years because we didn't come from a dairy background whatsoever,” Stephanie said. “We spent a good bit of time doing research and development, and then decided to purchase some goats and try out milking.”
While the first few batches of goat milk soap didn’t work out as Stephanie had imagined, a friendly neighbor came to her aid and kindly volunteered to show Stephanie how to make soap.
Sustainability is key
As they’ve built their business, the Carters have prioritized reusing, reducing and recycling as much as they can at Ithíka Acres.
All of the whey byproducts they produce go to local hog farmers for feed. Not only does it repurpose resources, but it also supports their farm neighbors, helping those in their community.
The Carters also use all the manure produced on their farm for fertilizer, helping to grow blueberries as well as coastal Bermuda hay that they feed to their goats.
Building relationships and sharing knowledge
Local farmers markets have been critical for the Carters as they build their business and connect with consumers. “I love the farmers markets. You meet the neatest people there,” John said. “They want to know what you have, and they want to know that you raised it, you produced it. We can say yes to all of those things.”
One market day, Stephanie and John decided to bring a friend from the farm to the market: a six-day old baby goat, also known as a kid. “Some people came to the market just for the goat,” Stephanie said. “They told us they had no other reason to come to the market, but to see the baby goat.”
While the business opportunities have been great at the farmers markets, to get their name out there and sell their products, Stephanie and John also love educating consumers about what they do on the farm. “It's been really interesting to get out there and share with customers why we produce our animals in one way versus another,” Stephanie said. “I think a lot of farmers don't have the opportunity to do that, to tell the population why agriculture is so important."
Cape Fear Farm Credit is proud to support Ithíka Acres.