Meet the faces behind Field to Fork
By Glenda Winders // Photography by Angela Jackson
There are new kids on the block in Franklin.
Although the “kids” might be new, the concepts behind Sarah and Cory Campbell’s Field to Fork market are not. The market at 90 W. Jefferson, which was set for a soft opening in mid-February, will harken back to a past when people bought meat and produce from their neighbors and children knew from whence their dinner came.
Because the Campbells know so many people who travel out of state to have their livestock butchered and packaged, the couple’s initial plan was to start a meat-processing plant. But when COVID-19 became a factor and the supply-chain problems meant food was held up in states far away, their idea morphed from a meat-processing plant to a market where nearly everything would be made in Indiana. And Field to Fork was born.
“We didn’t realize how much Hoosiers produced,” Sarah says of the products in their new market as well as the materials they had used to build it. “We made sure everything was at least made in America — our flooring, the wood, all of our products and equipment. That was a big deal to us.”
Think locally, shop locally
At Field to Fork, anything not made in the Hoosier state is made somewhere in the United States, and the few things that must come from overseas are items that have been salvaged and repurposed.
Sarah says the industry standard for “local” is within 150 miles. The Field to Fork to-go cups are made in Greenfield, the paper bags in Scottsburg. The Yeti coolers used in their delivery service are from just over the state line in Ohio. To cut back on waste, an artist in Fort Wayne designed a line of pottery dishes for their deli that includes cups patrons can purchase and bring back for free coffee. While the coffee they sell will have to be from other countries, it will all be grown to fair-trade standards and roasted by one of some 20 Indiana coffee roasters.
The 2,600-square-foot space the Campbells chose for their market was formerly an antique store and before that the Franklin Hotel. They kept the original brick walls and put down new vinyl, wood-look planks for the elegant yet fresh and organic look and feel they wanted to achieve. Counters are butcher-block, although all the fixtures in the back-shop preparation stations are stainless steel. While getting the project up and running required the help of plumbers and electricians, Cory did all the carpentry.
“We wanted to preserve the historical value of the building itself and what used to be here,” Sarah says, “but we wanted coming here to be a unique experience.”
The sales area is made up of a fresh meat case, a dairy case, deli that serves sandwiches and beverages (including beer and wine), and a dry-goods area for items such as granola, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, seasonings and canned foods. A bioengineer is building hydroponic towers so that customers can pick some of their own lettuces as well as micro-green trays that Sarah will teach customers to make for themselves.
The eggs sold at Field to Fork are fresh from the Campbells’ own small farm. There’s bar-style seating along a wall and the front window, with charging stations at each seat.
Behind all of this is an all-glass classroom lighted by a chandelier with a conference table and screen where the pair can host workshops, classes, meetings and community gatherings. The doors leading to it are original to the building.
“It’s my pride and joy,” Sarah says. “It’s a wonderful cozy area where the locals who make all of our food can gather, and we can do classes in things like making a charcuterie tray or wine tasting or ‘wine and canvas’ events and other fun stuff for the community. People can rent it out for whatever they want to do, such as Bible study and bridal showers.”
Although the couple say they don’t consider themselves competitors of larger grocery stores, they’re glad their prices will be comparable. In addition, one of the uses of their teaching facility is to “gently educate” their customers about the journey their supermarket food takes to get to their homes.
“We want to present information so that people can make an informed decision about what they’re putting into their bodies,” Cory says.
It’s also important, he added, to know where food dollars are going. He says supermarkets must price their offerings to cover the fuel for ships and trucks as well as the drivers’ time, the distributors’ time, loading workers, unloading workers, and the folks who put the meat into the case.
“But if you buy local,” he says. “You’re paying for your neighbor’s time to raise the animal, your neighbor’s time to process the animal, your neighbor’s time to bring it an hour to our store. Then you’re paying a neighbor to handle, distribute and hand you that food.”
Cory says his upbringing on a farm in Oberlin, Ohio, prepared him for what he and Sarah are doing.
“We got up at 6 (o’clock) every morning to take care of the animals,” he says. “We had to go out regardless of the temperature, regardless of the weather, and we had to do that at night, as well. We learned to care about something other than ourselves, and that seems to fit seamlessly with what our lifestyle is now.”
His family also owned several small businesses, and Cory learned from his dad and uncle how to do construction, run a business and deal with people, skills he thinks are being lost in today’s world. With that in mind, he’d also like to use the classroom space for bringing in local experts to teach life skills targeted toward teens, such as how to do laundry, iron a shirt or tie a tie. Young adults could learn such skills as assembling an outlet, hanging drywall and fixing a kitchen sink drain.
“It doesn’t sound very glamorous,” Sarah says, “but we think it’s really important.”
The couple aren’t the only ones who are enthusiastic about what they are setting out to do.
“I’m excited that this is opening,” says Mike Nowling, Franklin resident and pastor of Connection Pointe Church in Trafalgar. “Franklin is emerging as a great place to live and raise a family, and this particular business fits the culture of the community well. It’s something I’m looking forward to personally just to get quality meats and foods. The Campbells are great people. They love the community, they’re really bright and they have a great idea.”
Sarah and Cory want to turn life down a notch to a gentler, simpler, healthier standard; for example, they don’t use social media even to promote their store. But until the market is firmly on its feet, they’re continuing their work in a most modern career field: Both Sarah and Cory are air traffic controllers at the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center. That’s where they met in 2016.
Cory got a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical studies with a concentration in air traffic at Kent State, where he was on the wrestling team. Sarah, after growing up in the Michiana area of northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan, trained as a controller in the U.S. Air Force. She was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, where she says the airspace was “tiny but complex,” and then hired by the Federal Aviation Administration to work at what is known as Indy Center. She says she likes working with the pilots but finds it stressful when she has to miss holidays, birthdays and other special events with the couple’s children, daughter Dannie and son Benjamin — both from Sarah’s previous marriage — whom they home-school.
The couple say they like to think of their store as a year-round farmers market, but they will not be competitors of the farmers markets when summer comes.
“Our goal is to lift up and promote more of the local farmers and the local goods we have not just in Franklin but in Indiana in general,” Sarah says. “We want to bring more of that to our community and to shine the light on what they are doing and promote them.”
During the summer months they will encourage their customers also to patronize the farmers markets, to talk with the growers and put a face with the products they take home to eat. If farmers are spread thin by trying to staff markets in several cities, they will offer to sell the products for them.
The pair say they practice in their own lives the ideals they have set forth for their business. For example, 10% of their profit will go toward helping Christian apologetics groups; the couple haven’t settled on which groups they’ll donate to.
The Campbells repurpose items whenever they can, avoid buying products from China and patronize businesses such as the Franklin-based BYTAVI store that sells products made by Cambodian women who work under fair-trade principles.
“A T-shirt may cost $45, but you’re paying someone a living wage so that she doesn’t have to sell her daughter,” Sarah says. “These are real-world issues. I would rather pay more if it means I can guarantee someone’s working and living conditions. I don’t want my actions to put someone into a desperate situation.”
The family moved to Franklin after they fell in love with its architectural preservation, salvage stores and coffee shops, but they say most of all the welcoming, friendly people have made them feel at home.
“We just moved here four years ago,” Sarah says. ‘And I’m blown away. I traveled around a lot in the military, and this is the first time I’ve thought I could really put roots down. And what better way to do that than to open a brick-and-mortar business downtown?”