When he’s not ranking in the top 10 at Texas FFA agronomy competitions, playing baritone in his marching band, attending networking events, or doing homework, Ethan Carter is building a business with his hands in the soil. At the youthful age of 15, Ethan has delved into a full-time project that has exceeded his expectations, and changed the game of small producers in the Llano Estacado region.
I arrived on a hot and humid Wednesday morning, to a beautifully landscaped home in Wolfforth, TX. The walkway was blooming with sage, mint, lavender, cacti, and most to my surprise…watermelon!
I’m greeted warmly by Ethan, and quickly given an introduction to his farm.
“Ethan, you’ve got quite the operation on your hands.”
He smiles slyly and says, “I can’t even legally drive yet!”
It’s a wonderful treat to hear Ethan rave about his passion for agronomy, land, and working with his customers. His face lights up; his hands make large gestures as he explains vegetable varieties, plans for expansion, and the daily routine at E3.
“This is all I think about! I’ll be in band thinking, ‘It would be a great idea to try this variety. What if I tried this method? What would my customers like this week, next week, next month?’”
This mindset has proven successful to E3 Farm. In less than a year, Ethan has planted his first crop, started selling at the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market, and routinely providing produce to local restaurants.
“I just love the outdoors. I started watching YouTube videos about gardening, and began experimenting with basic crops like squash, tomatoes and carrots. In 2016, my carrots turned out great. My dad started to recognize the ability and the passion behind my idea of the farm, and with the support of my family, I started to grow enough to sell at the market.”
With a youthful advantage and education in business and agricultural courses, Ethan has got an edge in what he produces: less traditional crops, with new flavor and growing/harvesting techniques. After working in landscaping for a year, Ethan saved up enough to begin gardening in the backyard, growing a variety of colorful delights: Various Microgreens (rainbow, spicy, sunflower sprouts, etc.), Baby Greens, Red Russian Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Lettuce, Tat Soy, Beet Greens, Baby Swish Chard, Radish, Salad Turnips, Golden Beets, Carrots. And these are just the basics!
Currently farming in a 60×70 square foot area, Ethan has recently received an offer to farm his neighbor’s back yard, another 50X50 sq. ft space. “I do want to expand: We’ve got plans to build a greenhouse so we can grow tomatoes and greens year-round. Several people on my street have offered their backyards for gardening, but I’m running out of time with school and extracurricular activities. It’s also a dream of mine to start hosting workshops and educational seminars. And of course, I’d like to sell to Sprouts and Natural Grocers.”
With a heavy school schedule and involvement in various activities, farming is not all that Ethan excels in. “Typically I get home from marching band at 10pm and go directly to harvesting and soaking the microgreens. I’m thankful for my family, who help me care for the garden, prepare for the markets, and cover the booth at the market when I’m absent for band activities.”
E3 certainly is a family effort, as Ethan’s parents proudly support his goals, assist in providing the land and lending a helping hand in planting and harvesting. Sister Emma, 11, has her own hand in the farm, growing flowers, such as the customer favorite, the Texas Tech Gladiola, as seen in the Look Around Lubbock clip.
Ambitious vision, hard work, and customer service are genuine qualities I observed in Ethan as I spent the afternoon learning about his farm. He is a young gentleman doing his part in serving the Lubbock community and surrounding areas. E3 is a true testament to the fruits of ‘following your dreams.’
Don’t miss your chance to meet Ethan and his family at the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market, every Saturday from 9am-sell out. You can usually spot Ethan in his unique t-shirt, locally made by his uncle. For more information, be sure to visit E3 Farm Facebook, and be on the look out for the new website. You can also message Ethan @ firstname.lastname@example.org to visit the farm or stop by to pick up your personal produce basket.