By Leslie Limberg and Dianne Sudbrock
Jeff and James Howell, along with their brother Jason (yes, from the original Defiance clan, sons of David and Sandi Howell) grew up working in the family farming and excavating businesses.
Now these entrepreneurial brothers have built, from scratch, an aquaculture shrimp business on the old Beier Farm (now owned by the Hackmann family) at Hwys. T and D.
They’re raising shrimp! In Missouri! Just a few miles west of New Melle!
The brothers started about 14 months ago with a vacant pole barn that had a dirt floor. Now they have a clean, completely enclosed, sophisticated climate controlled, sustainable salt water environment housing 9 production tanks with a total capacity of around 125,000 shrimp per year; and plans to expand even more.
The shrimp are raised in water that is as close to their natural salt water environment as possible, only better, because it is without any of the toxins and pollutants now present in the world’s oceans. Each day, the water is tested and closely monitored to maintain the optimum safe, comfortable, environment for the shrimp.
Jeff Howell handles most of the day-to-day operations, sales, and gives tours of the facility. When James is not working with the other side of the family business, excavation, he develops expansion plans and helps Jeff with sales. Jason is mostly a silent partner. Parents Dave and Sandi have been instrumental in getting the business started and are a welcomed helping hand during busy weekends.
Triple J Farms is St. Charles County’s first and only shrimp farm; and one of only a handful of privately owned shrimp farms in the entire U.S. They raise only Pacific White Leg Shrimp and sell only to the general public. You won’t find any Triple J Farms shrimp in restaurants or grocery stores.
Triple J Farms opened in February of this year, and quickly sold out their first batch. (They were featured on Show-Me St. Louis and in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Word has also spread via social media.) Jeff expected their second batch to sell out by Memorial Day; and had just purchased 10,000 new post-larval shrimp in late May. The post larval shrimp are about the size of an eyelash when they are brought to the farm, and are ready to eat in about 90 days.
Prices range from $16 to $20 per pound depending on quantity purchased. The shrimp are packaged fresh from the tank and are so fresh, and so sweet, Jeff says you don’t even have to devein them. “Once you try our fresh shrimp, you’ll never go back to frozen/store bought,” he said.
(Stir fry anyone? There are free recipes at the door.)
Triple J Farms is located at 3103 Hwy. T, Foristell, MO, 63348 (just west of the T&D intersection. Watch for their sign.) The facility is open to the public every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Please call 636-828-4144 or check their FaceBook page for current supply and availability. Informational tours are available for a nominal fee (please schedule in advance.) Jeff says he also has the best fish bait around (a byproduct of the projection process) for $6/pound.
For more information, visit www.triplejfarmsstl.com.