Thriving Farmer: Eden Creamery

Thriving Farmer: Eden Creamery

A family of scientists turned cheesemakers!

 

Cassie and Asaf are the farmers behind Eden Creamery, just outside of Boise, Idaho.

“We’re a couple of scientists turned cheese makers,” Cassie says. “I guess you could call us “Curd Nerds.”

Asaf is Israeli and settled on Eden Creamery as the farm’s name, after the Garden of Eden. There, he and Cassie raise a rare breed of goats, the beautiful Oberhasli.

Their farm is a full-circle operation, where they rear and milk goats and make handmade farmstead cheese in their Grade-A, ISDA Certified creamery.

“We’re proudly raising a ton of kids,” Cassie says. “Well…we’re raising four of the human kind and an ever-increasing number of the goat kind.”

But Cassie says that getting into farming wasn’t a long, strategic discussion. Rather, it just sort of…happened.

“It happened kind of by accident. Cheesemaking was a hobby that got out of control.”

Like many farmers, it was the love of the farming enterprise that attracted Cassie and Asaf. Whether it’s growing vegetables and fruit or tending to livestock or, in their case, making cheese, farmers often get hooked on the “farm work.” But, once they turn that into a business, they quickly discover they must focus on marketing if they want their farm to thrive. Because effective marketing is what allows a farmer to find and attract loyal customers.

“Marketing, marketing, marketing is the most challenging part of running a profitable farm business,” Cassie says. “I wish we would have understood that and focused on it earlier.”

Fortunately, Cassie found Small Farm Nation Academy in 2018 and has been a member since.

“The help with website design, video courses and the online community are the biggest reasons I’d recommend Small Farm Nation Academy,” Cassie says. “I’ve also taken advantage of the one-to-one coaching with Tim when needed, and it’s nice to know there’s coaching there whenever I need it.”

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Thriving Farmer: Holt Creek Jerseys

Thriving Farmer: Holt Creek Jerseys

This busy farmer made time for marketing!

Ben Gotschall is a busy man. Working with his wife Tammy and their growing daughter Charlotte, Ben and Charlotte run two farming businesses.

Raising Jersey cows has been a passion for Ben since he was a boy. 

“Even at that young age, I was serious about developing a top-tier production herd of Jersey cattle,” Ben says. “I set for myself the goal of having the highest-producing Jersey herd in the state of Nebraska. I bred my cows to high-production bulls and purchased cows and heifers from high-producing herds in the Midwest, and by 1997, as a senior in high school, I had the top herd in the state for milk.”

Ben established a small herd of Jersey cows, one of the top 10 small Jersey herds in the U.S. for butterfat production. He sold commodity milk to the Dairy Farmers of America, who picked up every 3 days. Like many dairy farmers at the time, Ben fed the cows a specially-designed production pellet in the parlor, and fed the heifers a heifer grower ration of corn. He kept their calves in individual hutches where they were fed milk replacer and calf starter pellets until they were weaned at 6 weeks old.

It was a classic high-input, high-production, low profit business, even when milk prices were attractive.  It was not a system designed to be profitable under unfavorable economic conditions, and it was not sustainable.  When milk prices dropped in 1998, Ben’s income from milk sales to DFA was insufficient to cover his cost of production.  He was faced with the infamous choice many small dairy farmers then and now confront: GET BIG, OR GET OUT!

Ben had to find another way.

Today, Ben runs Holt Creek Jerseys, where he sells Jersey cows, bulls and semen with organic, grass-fed and A2A2 genetics. To help market that business, he built a website with the help of Small Farm Nation Academy

But Ben and Charlotte do more than raise cows. They milk them, too, and sell raw milk in Nebraska. They market raw milk, grass-fed beef and pastured pork through another business, Davey Road Ranch.

Ben’s parents run yet another farming business!

So, clearly, Ben has farming in his blood and has been around it all his life. But, like many farmers who transitioned to selling directly to customers, Ben discovered he needed to develop a new skillset.

He needed to become an effective marketer.

“Before joining Small Farm Nation Academy, I struggled with social media, creating a good website and email marketing,” Ben said. “But now I’ve learned how to design and maintain my website, and I’ve grown my email customer list and grown my social media/online presence.”

Ben has a tremendous amount of farming experience and has words of wisdom for new and experienced farmers.

“Knowing your financial numbers via accurate bookkeeping is vital to making timely and effective decisions on a farm. I wish I had outsourced my bookkeeping to a professional sooner so I could spend more time on marketing and customer engagement through my Small Farm Nation website and customer e-mail list.”

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Thriving Farmer: Rolling Hills Cattle Company

Thriving Farmer: Rolling Hills Cattle Company

Abandoned cart numbers decline by 80%!

The mother and daughter team of Christina and Hailey operate two farm businesses in Minnesota.

“We named our farm Rolling Hills Cattle Company,” Christina said. “And we call our meat business Grillin Meats. The beautiful rolling hills of our property made our name easy. Everyone loves to grill, so Grillin Meats fit really well!”

At the ripe age of 2, Christina’s family made the move to her great-grandparent’s house to live. Part of the privilege of being next door to grandpa’s farm was being able to go with her dad to the farm to help feed the calves.

So Christina grew up on a dairy farm and you could say that farming is in her blood. But, rather than running a dairy farm, Rolling Hills Cattle Company has the oldest herd of 100% Minnesota Bred British White Cattle.

Christina says she has really enjoyed developing a line of beef cattle after growing up in the dairy business. Today, she and Haily offer commercial and registered British White Beef cattle & semen to other farmers. But that’s not all Rolling Hills offers.

“We offer AGA Certified Grassfed and finished British White beef cattle as our main product,” Christina says. “But we also raise Mangalitsa hogs, and a wide variety of poultry, hair sheep, and eggs.”

Like mom, Hailey has had the privilege of growing up on the ranch. She started her micro-farm with chickens when she was 12. Hailey manages the ranch when Christina is away at the farmer’s market, making deliveries or taking care of ranch business.

While Christina certainly knows farming and has been around it her whole life, farm marketing and technology…well…that was another matter.

“Before joining Small Farm Nation Academy …believe it or not, I couldn’t figure out how to add a contact-us page. Or an email sign-up form. So I was struggling with technology!”

Christina says the biggest problem she and Hailey struggle with is finding time to get it all done, something every farmer can relate to. But these awesome “Farm-Hers” love what they’re doing.

“I wish we had started 10 years sooner. I had no idea what we were missing out on!” Christina added.

Christina created two websites with the help of Small Farm Nation, one for each of her farming businesses. And it has really helped her and Haily spend more time as “Ranch-Hers,” which is what they love.

“The lessons on the small farm nation program and emails have helped us refine our website and get our “abandoned cart” numbers to drop by 80%. The Small Farm Nation websites are affordable and in the long run a much better bargain than other platforms without extra fees.”

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Thriving Farmer: Auburn Meadow Farm

Thriving Farmer: Auburn Meadow Farm

This Pennsylvania farmer sharpened her online presence and created a slick, modern farm website

Some people grow up on a farm, so it’s natural they farm as adults. Not Jackie Cleary, who took a rather long and winding road to the farm.

“Yep, it was a long, convoluted way, through food and animal welfare interests,” Jackie says. “It seemed a bit random, as I was working on real estate at the time, but I was raised showing and training horses, and worked in the horse industry for years before my real estate career, so I was used to the work and large animals, and really missed them.”

Farming is hard enough as a family, but Jackie goes it alone in Pennsylvania. It didn’t start that way, though.

“My husband and I divorced early into it, and I had to buy him out to keep the farm. That was a real blow that frankly I have not bounced back from,” Jackie said.

Today, Jackie farms grass-fed Devon beef and pastured pork on Auburn Meadow Farm. But she never intended to enter farming as a solo act, and the sudden divorce created enormous challenges. But Jackie fought to keep the farm going and get it profitable. But to do that she had to get customers, and that meant she had to master marketing.

“Because of my background in sales and marketing, I was successful at selling my beef the very first year it was available.” Jackie said. “I spent a lot of time on my website and blog and teaching about food, and engaging with other bloggers, chefs, and policy makers. But, the systems are continually changing, and I had stopped changing with them.”

Jackie found that she loved writing, photography and storytelling and sharing that via her blog. But she didn’t love technology and found the ever-changing tools and applications time-consuming to keep up with.

“I started to drift away from what had been working for me,” Jackie added. “But Small Farm Nation Academy helped me refocus, sharpen up my online presence, and get back on track with a more modern site that is more secure in my ownership of my platform.”

Jackie launched a modern, responsive farm website with an online store with the help of Small Farm Nation.  Now she’s back to blogging and photo-journaling her farm life. That’s good news because it not only allows her to connect with customers, but blogging is a great tool for search engine optimization. But her long and winding journey since starting the farm hasn’t been all roses.

“Well, to be honest, I am more cautionary tale than a success story,” Jackie says. “Though at first, it seemed to come easily for me. Over attempting to try to speed things up after my divorce was an expensive mistake. I would say pace yourself, not chasing after requests from customers without financial commitment upfront, and healthy, positive relationships with anyone your farm business depends upon, like a spouse, family, landlord or investor. It is much better to start slow and build on a solid foundation than to rush and ignore red flags.”

Jackie says that joining Small Farm Nation helped her to accomplish something that was difficult for her as a farmer, and something she really needed.

“It forced me to focus, Jackie said, on joining the Academy. “I tend to over complicate things with all the things that shouldn’t be on the menu. Tim’s video library of courses reminds me to stay focused, keep it simple, and remember I am running a business, rather than a hobby.”

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Thriving Farmer: Southwest Gamebirds

Thriving Farmer: Southwest Gamebirds

These farmers learned to build their brand and create a website they can control 

Michael and Christy Rose are the husband and wife team behind Southwest Gamebirds, a family farm that focuses on research and propagation of game birds. Whether it’s hatching eggs, live birds or even frozen quail, they have a passion for game birds, such as Coturnix quail.

So, how did these guys find their way into the world of gamebirds?

“Now that’s a story!” Michael says. “We both studied chemistry, earned graduate degrees, and had nice careers ahead of us. A year or two into this we saw our lives flash before our eyes. We were in the rat race. So we decided to get out while we still could. I’ve always enjoyed genetics research, and we like the business case for quail as an undeveloped industry. We spent our first year learning from the experts and studied quail characteristics at a biochemical level. We modified a few things in our husbandry practices and our customers noticed, so now they’re very loyal since our quality is hard to match. Our growth was slow at first like a lot of businesses, and it’s been a tough switch from our desk jobs, but I think we’ve set our farm up for long-term success. We’re in a really interesting industry and it has a lot of potential.”

One of the keys to success in many small businesses is to focus. Too many businesses, especially small farms, try too many enterprises or product lines and never achieve excellence or profitability in any one area. Michael and Christy are keeping it simple, focusing almost exclusively on quail and quail eggs.

So, with a focused business plan and a passion for genetics, why did Michael and Christy engage with Small Farm Nation?

“Before we joined Small Farm Nation we had a one page website that couldn’t handle transactions properly, and didn’t know anything about farm marketing. We were basically surviving off of word of mouth advertising.”

And that’s how most small farms start, with one local customer at a time. But it’s hard to scale and grow that way. The successful farming businesses we all know and admire learned that, at some point, they had to establish a farm brand that resonates with potential customers. That way, the farm could become a magnet that attracted customers to them rather than constantly having to hunt for customers.

Small Farm Nation taught us how to build our brand, and gave us the resources to create a custom website that we could control. Tim has also been a great help whenever I break our website. I remember one time I loaded 70,000 zip codes into a plugin, not knowing this would crash the entire site. Tim had it running again within a couple of hours and gave me some advice on how to accomplish my goals without breaking the website again.”

Today, Southwest Gamebirds has a beautiful website that makes it easy for customers to find them, and make purchases online. Hindsight is 20:20, of course, but that doesn’t mean other farmers can’t learn from Michael and Christy’s experience. So we asked Michael what he sees as the most challenging part of running a profitable farm business and what he wishes they would have focused on earlier.

“I think this is different for every farm, but for us it was sales. Our product is so specialized that we couldn’t just go to a farmers market and sell what we produced. Instead, we had to tap into specific market segments nationally and grow our brand awareness online. Sales and marketing are not our skillset, so I think if we were able to give ourselves advice a few years ago it would have been to find a way to learn or outsource what we weren’t good at as soon as possible. A business is nothing without sales and marketing; it literally can’t exist without them. It’s hard to put a value on the kind of service and response time we get from Small Farm Nation.  For us, it’s just one more thing not to worry about, which is important when you’re starting a business.”

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Thriving Farmer: Our Local Farm

Thriving Farmer: Our Local Farm

We understood farming, but we needed to learn marketing!

Kimmie and her husband, Phil do pretty much everything on their Raleigh, NC area farm..with the “help” of their three children. Originally from Mattawamkeag, Maine, Phil moved to North Carolina nearly twenty years ago. Though trained as a master automotive technician he became interested in regenerative farming after becoming friends with several Polyface Farm associates. Phil’s desire to farm grew as he researched and studied more about our food and farming systems in America.

Kimmie grew up on a diverse farm in Augusta County, Virginia just several miles away from Polyface. So she kind of has regenerative agriculture and farming in her DNA.

“After attending NC State for my undergraduate and graduate studies I worked in the Raleigh/Durham area,” Kimmie said. “Since becoming a mother I have made my family and the farm my main job. Now we have three junior farmers. The oldest two, Olivia and Elisah, are responsible for collecting eggs and helping feed and water the animals.”

Phil and Kimmie named the farm “Our Local Farm” because they wanted their local community to connect with them, and they wanted to be as essential to their community as farmers were just a few generations ago. Their farm serves Raleigh and the bustling RTP area of North Carolina. 

But, while they studied regenerative agriculture and farming extensively, they found (as most farmers do) that marketing and technology required a whole new set of skills.

“Prior to joining Small Farm Nation Academy, we just felt like we did not know what the heck we were doing in any area of our business,” Kimmie said. But Small Farm Nation has been a great resource because we get help whenever we need it in many areas of our farm business, especially website assistance.”

Marketing and technology is a critical challenge that almost all small business owners struggle with, but none more than farmers. Farming demands so much, day in and day out, that it’s difficult to know what the marketing priorities should be, what to do and when to do it. Most farmers struggle to clearly focus on the important priorities that can propel their sales and profits.

“Joining Small Farm Nation Academy helped focus us. It is really comforting to know we have someone to turn to when we have a farm business or marketing question.

Small Farm Nation designs and
hosts custom websites with online stores
for farmers across the United States,
Canada and beyond. Our web designs meet the needs of each individual farm.

Small Farm Nation Academy offers
online farm marketing courses that help
farmers to build their brands,
grow their email lists and
attract loyal customers.

Small Farm Nation creates beautiful farm websites and offers  online farm marketing courses that help farmers grow profitable farm businesses.

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