About the Farmers

Justin Butts, Founder

Justin Butts is a pioneer farmer, radio show host, food writer, and former Senior National Sales Executive with the The Coca-Cola Company.  He is a recognized leader in small-scale agriculture in the region and beyond.

Kayla Butts is a licensed dietitian, a home chef, and Culinary Editor and writer for THE BEND Magazine.  They live off the land at their home in Rockport, TX.

Justin built Four String Farm as a pioneer farm in the raw wilderness in one of toughest places in America to grow food.  Working by himself, using methods practiced by pioneer farmers of 200 years ago, he carved a niche of domesticity from this wilderness and turned it into the largest and most successful small-scale farm business in the region.

Justin has traveled the world, studying farming in mountains, jungles, and deserts, trekking for weeks at a time through remote regions of India, Europe, and North America. He has survived in some of the most treacherous and beautiful landscapes in the world, re-supplying with ingenuity from farms, rural outposts, and native families along the way.  His travels have taken him to India, Africa, the Himalayas, Japan, Europe, Mexico, the Arctic Circle, and across North America.

He became interested in nutrition while “ultralight backpacking”, hiking 20 to 30 miles per day for days or weeks at a time, crossing hundreds of miles of remote rugged country on foot. On long distance treks, where the body must perform at peak levels through every type of stress, good nutrition is critical. Good nutrition is the daily focus of his farm business.

Justin worked in the corporate world for The Coca-Cola Company, where he managed a variety of national food service accounts.  Justin helped convert 15,000 Subway stores from Pepsi to Coke in the biggest beverage conversion in food service history.  He is one of the few people in the long and storied history of Coca-Cola to help build a global account team from scratch.

Justin served on a machine gun team and as unit armorer in 2nd Ranger Battalion, in Ft. Lewis, WA.  He attended Texas State, where he was elected student body president, and he graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M—Corpus Christi.

36 responses

  1. Thank you, Justin and Kayla. What a fun morning you gave us at More Than Feed on Saturday! I applaud your teaching skills and creative presentation on the subject of growing tomatoes naturally. All I can say is, “WOW!” Well……that’s not ALL I can say, but that will do for now. Thanks!
    Marcella Mott

  2. Will you please tell us about your whistle-theme song on the KEDT radio broadcast?
    We enjoy your warm radio presence and look forward to installments.
    Many thanks, Ed

    • Hello Ed! Thank you so much! I really appreciate you tuning into the program!

      The whistling theme song is from a CD called “Closer to Town” that I recorded with Ty Dietz at Willie Nelson’s studio on the Pedernales. Ty Dietz wrote this particular song, Bandera Blues, about getting paid to play music in bars. According to the song, you get paid $100 dollars to play the show, but then after the bar tab is added up, they take back your $100 and charge you another $20!

      I played in a duo with Ty for about a year and half, when I first started my farm. The income from the band helped pay the bills until I got the farm off the ground. Ty sang and played acoustic guitar, and I played upright bass. On this song, I am slapping a train beat to get that percussive sound, and Ty is whistling. I no longer play with Ty, but he a super talented guy and a lot of fun to watch.

      Thank you so much Ed for your interest. I really appreciate knowing that you look forward to our program. It is a real privilege to host this program, and I love doing it! All the best to you Ed, Justin

  3. Heard you on 90.3 from first air, missed you twice in port a. I have the spring planting bug and have built a decent 160 ft^2 area in backyard. Started some seedlings, but I’d love some suggestions. I have a lot of shade and hoping for a vegetable garden with flowers for the miss.

    • Hello Jesse! Thank you so much listening on the radio! We will offer more classes soon, including something on our farm. If you subscribe to the blog, you will get e-mail updates of what is coming.

      Planting in shade can be a challenge for vegetables. To grow vegetables and most herbs, you need at least eight hours full sun on your garden. Any less sunlight will cause problems: 1) your plants may grow to full size, but then offer little or no yield of fruit, and 2) your sun-starved plants will be very susceptible to disease and insect attacks. One factor that makes it especially hard to grow plants in the shade in our area, is the high heat of summer. The hotter the weather, the more stressed plants become, and heat is not the same as direct sunlight. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight have even more trouble when grown in the heat of summer.

      For suggestions for a shaded flower garden, you might stop by the Aransas County Agri-Life Extension office in Rockport. Ask Ginger Easton Smith, our agricultural agent, for a list of all the herbs and flowers that grow well in the shade in our area. The folks at the Ag Office are a great resource for these plants. They have a booklet I believe with a list of flowers that do well in shade. Another great resource is Nativedave.com. Native Dave is, I believe, the premier expert in South Texas around native plants. David can tell you all the native plants that will thrive in shade, plus any plants that have naturalized to our area and will do well.

      Please let me know how your garden is doing, and I would love any pictures you can share! Thank you so much Jesse, enjoy this beautiful day! Justin

  4. Hi, Kayla came and talked to my Lifetime Nutrition and Wellness class last week, or the week before, but I want more community service hours, so I was wondering if you’d let me help on your farm? This is the kind of stuff I’m interested in. 🙂

    • Hello Kaitlyn! How did you enjoy the talk with Kayla? I wish I could have been there to see it also! Do you know if farm work would qualify for your community service hours? Working on a farm like our can be VERY hard work, so you have to be prepared! You could touch base with Kayla, but check with your parents first and get their approval! Thank you so much for your interest in our farm! Justin

  5. Heard your talk on the manger tonight while driving home. Had to stay in my car until you finished! Good work, and thank you for standing up in the season!

  6. Thank you, Justin! Had I known for the past 60 years about eating blackeyed peas after the burning of Savannah, I would have never missed eating my blackeyed peas on New Years Day (I was never inspired to eat them for “good luck”). I love your shows. Thank you for the interesting, informative, and intelligent job you do. Look forward to meeting and chatting with you. Best wishes to you and your wife.

    • Thank you so much James! I am truly grateful for your kind words. It means so much to me that you took the time out of your day to send this message. The radio program is a labor of love. But it is done mostly in isolation, and I have no idea how anyone feels about the show, or even if they notice it at all. It is so inspiring and motivating to know you are listening! I look forward to meeting you soon. All the best to you and your family! Happy New Year to you! Justin

  7. Thank you Justin & Kayla, for what I’ve learned from you over the years. After working with my “soil” (pure white blow-sand) since 2004, today I picked up a handful of dirt and found an earthworm!!! It’s been a long time coming but by keeping two standard donkeys, 16 chickens, and our herd of dairy goats, we’ve turned from 6 to 8 round bales of hay per year (1200+ lbs each) into post-processed garden compost. Our soil looks amazing and smells like dirt should. (sand just lays there) Thanks again.

  8. So glad to have found this page! I enjoy every time your show is on the radio (Kedt- Corpus Christi).
    I live in Alice, Texas just down the road from you. It’s been a little while since I’ve visited Rockport. Beautiful place to me and a great beach! Thank you for all your education! It really means a lot to me to hear your voice in the morning on the way to work.., Oh! And also to hear the whistling intro to your song! Makes my day, sir!!

    • Thank you so much Roy! This is such a wonderful message, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it! It means so much to know you listen and enjoy the program! It is a labor of love and I am so moved by your message, thank you! Have a wonderful day Roy, all the best to you!

  9. So happy to have met you at the Corpus Christi Farmer’s Market!! Can’t wait to get signed up for our first farm share. Thank you so much for spending time sharing with us what you do!

  10. You had a radio segment a few days ago how to get rid of pests by turning on sprinkler, attracting birds etc. Is that archived and how can I access that show?

    • Hello Vinay! Thank you so much for listening to the program and supporting KEDT! We are so thankful for you!

      That show is not yet archived; I will ask the wonderful engineer at KEDT to put it up. Meanwhile, I will e-mail you the text from that program, as it is a little long for this comment section. Also, I will post that segment to the blog with some nice bird pictures! Thank you so much Vinay! We are wishing you the very best! Justin

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  12. Good morning. Today you shared a story about an American Indian bean grown in S Dakota and now at your farm, but did not get the name. Was it areca? Please advise.

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  14. Hello Justin and Kayla,
    We had a blast at your event and would love to come out and intern with you and help you rebuild your farm. We also had a question regarding dairy. We are interested it learning to make cheese and are wondering if you know anyone we could talk to to acquire fresh goat and cow milk.
    Orion and Jessica

    • Hello Orion and Jessica ! We were so glad to see you and would love have you visit soon! We will have recovery work for years, thanks for your kind offer! The regional leaders around goat cheese are the folks at Thompson’s Dairy Farms http://www.southtexasgoatcheese.com/, about an hour south of Corpus Christi. They are great people and can probably answer any questions about this business. Best of luck to you guys! Justin

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  16. Hello my name is Rae Ann Nguyen. I’m the owner of The Cheesecake Lady based out of Benchwarmers & Hudat in Fulton tx. Is this farm still operating? I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks!

    • Hello Ms. Nguyen! Thank you so much for your interest in our farm! We are still rebuilding from the extensive damage of the hurricane. We are not yet operational. Please check back soon for updates. We wish you the best!

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