We had the good fortune of connecting with Letty and Jennifer | Circle S Farm and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Letty and Jennifer | Circle S Farm, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Temple Top is born of love for animals and the earth we share. At Circle S Farm, all animals (dogs, cats, chickens, horses, cattle) are well treated. The gardens are grown using organic standards and traditional horsepower; Letty with her team never fails to inspire me. As to the land, itself, the Smiths incorporate carbon sequestering forest, implement regenerative farming and adaptive grazing practices, and also provide conservation habitat to wildlife. Collectively people cannot be healthy on an unhealthy planet, and I share with the Smiths a sincere passion for the well being of creatures and ecosystems. I view exploitation of the planet and its resources like buying on credit, accruing a debt future generations cannot repay. The global food system contributes to this indebtedness, and one of our goals at the farm is to reduce food waste, so most of the garden leftovers go toward feeding the livestock, especially near the end of the growing season. However, even during the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), much produce is harvested that is not pretty enough for the buckets or our vendor table at market: broken carrots, split sweet potatoes, ugly apples. These culled seconds – both tasty and healthy, if not aesthetic – are now being processed along with the beef and dehydrated into jerky-like treats for our four legged family members and other pup adoring households. Like I said, “well treated.” Temple Top is named after Circle S Farm’s beloved blue heeler, who was named after the esteemed Temple Grandin. Sweet, independent, loudly vocal Temple was sadly diagnosed with inoperable cancer in early 2019, after many wonderful years of serving as ringleader to the Circle S gang. Dietary changes and supplements, most of which came right from the farm, gave her an even greater, enhanced quality of life than the one she already enjoyed. Similarly, all of her buddies benefited from nutritional ingredients, and they will enthusiastically convince anyone who asks that these meals are also quite delicious. Temple outlived the life expectancy outlined by her veterinarian with the onset of cancer, and though we will always feel she was gone too soon, these recipes continue to bring slobbery, satisfied smiles to furry friends even after her passing. My own soulmate dog, Isabel, who had been my best and perfect companion for more than 15 years passed last summer. She enjoyed 2 & 1/2 seasons of employment at Circle S, and it was undoubtedly one of her favorite places on earth. Her exuberance for the garden, the creek, and the farmhouse porch also inspired Temple Top, and it is her paw print on the packaging of these treats. Though I will undoubtedly be heartbroken forever, it seems so right, sending her impression, her imprint out into the world, because love certainly lasts longer than life. Circle S is still home to farm dogs and will likely always be. These precious souls encourage their people to do the work that needs doing, not just with regard to farm chores, but also the equally necessary work of advocacy. Human health and access to nutrient dense, fresh food; environmental and animal welfare; the serious, unprecedented challenges facing modern family farms… these agricultural issues affect us all, thrice daily, and communities are centered on such things. But, you don’t have to hear it from me; our dogs speak for our treats 😉

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In many ways, Temple Top is a labor of love. Details are decided based on what is right for pets and the planet. Our ingredients are sourced from Circle S or other small neighboring farms and harvested in season, rather than grown using opaque practices and shipped long distances. There are no preservatives in our treats, unless you count a splash of apple cider vinegar, and so we mix a fresh batch for every market, because fresher food is healthier food. We include organ meat in our recipes, because animals should be valued and respected, no part ever wasted. Our packaging is made of recycled paper and water based soy ink (rather than plastic) so it’s biodegradable, because… compost. (Our logo was designed by the lovely and talented Ms Heidi Wilson, a local artist and art teacher, and our labels are printed by the skillful folks at SimplyMail, a fantastic, dog friendly print shop based in Tennessee.) As I imagine most small businesses do, we wholeheartedly appreciate our supporters and adore our tail wagging, trick demonstrating customers.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I imagine ‘the city’ refers to Atlanta…? Circle S Farm is located on Lookout Mountain, near Cloudland Canyon State Park, Mentone, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Main St Farmers Market on Wednesdays in the parking lot beside Chattanooga Brewing Company is where we are regular vendors. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Temple Top is named after Circle S Farm’s beloved blue heeler, who was named after the esteemed Temple Grandin. Sweet, independent, loudly vocal Temple was sadly diagnosed with inoperable cancer in early 2019, after many wonderful years of serving as ringleader to the Circle S gang. Dietary changes and supplements, most of which came right from the farm, gave her an even greater, enhanced quality of life than the one she already enjoyed. Similarly, all of her buddies benefited from nutritional ingredients, and they will enthusiastically convince anyone who asks that these meals are also quite delicious. Temple outlived the life expectancy outlined by her veterinarian with the onset of cancer, and though we will always feel she was gone too soon, these recipes continue to bring slobbery, satisfied smiles to furry friends even after her passing. My own soulmate dog, Isabel, who had been my best and perfect companion for more than 15 years passed last summer. She enjoyed 2 & 1/2 seasons of employment at Circle S, and it was undoubtedly one of her favorite places on earth. Her exuberance for the garden, the creek, and the farmhouse porch also inspired Temple Top, and it is her paw print on the packaging of these treats. Though I will undoubtedly be heartbroken forever, it seems so right, sending her impression, her imprint out into the world, because love certainly lasts longer than life.

Website: circlesfarm.net

Instagram: temple_top_treats

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/circlesfarm.menlo.ga/

Image Credits
Letty Smith photographed Temple on a haystack, Jennifer Blair photographed the remainder of the images.

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