Thriving Farmer: Freedom Valley Farm

Thriving Farmer: Freedom Valley Farm

How this Maryland farmer embraced relationship marketing

Ryan Hamby farms in Maryland with his mom, dad, and three younger brothers. Ryan says they chose the name Freedom Valley Farm because their farm is in a big valley and farming in it has given his family freedom from the “rat race.”

Like many modern farmers, Ryan’s path to farming started not outside…but inside, watching documentaries such as Food, Inc. But rather than doing what most people do (such as just supporting a local farmers market), Ryan’s family went in whole-hog, so to speak, and started farming themselves!

“We started with just a few backyard chickens and it grew from there!” Ryan said.

Today, Freedom Valley Farm produces grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and turkey and woodlot pork.

Ryan found and joined the Small Farm Nation Academy back in 2018 because, as he says, “We were struggling to figure out farm marketing and websites, and just didn’t even know where to start!”

But that was then. Since joining the Academy, Ryan says they’ve learned so much that has helped their farm to really get growing!

“Tim is awesome, and his courses have taught us best practices and how-to for relationship farm marketing! He has also helped us build a state-of-the-art farm website!” Ryan said.

Today, Freedom Valley Farm has a slick, modern farm website with an online store and is selling out of product. This has proved critical as the Coronavirus pandemic hit, as it made it easy for Ryan’s farm to take and manage a rapid increase in orders. But with their online WordPress store, they can easily take orders and even allow customers to choose their pick-up dates and locations.

When asked what he sees as the most challenging part of running a profitable farm business, Ryan says:

“Right now, the struggle is in getting to a large enough scale to support a healthy economy of scale. We are getting there faster than ever now, but it certainly can’t come soon enough. Cash flow has also been a big learning curve as we grow, and figuring out how to finance that growth.”

As all farmers know, figuring out marketing and growing a profitable business is challenging. But, as Ryan says, it’s good to have help when you need it.

“Small Farm Nation has been an invaluable tool to have in our back pocket,” Ryan added. “Without it, we’d be stumbling in the dark when trying to figure out how to market and sell our farm products.”

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: Fort Rock Farms

Thriving Farmer: Fort Rock Farms

We have a long list of customers who are ready to buy whatever we produce!

Joel, his wife Amy and daughter Sadie are the farmers near Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Several years ago, Joel’s family began an adventure in search of wholesome food. That led them to form Fort Rock Farms as a way to produce and distribute nutritious, naturally grown food to their Lake Havasu City friends and family. The same food we set out in search of so long ago.

Joel’s path to farming began with being lured by, as he says, “Joel Salatin’s silver tongue.” They underestimated the difficulties, rewards and how it would completely change their path forever, something they’ve documented in an amazing series of blog posts of their 7-year journey to going completely off-grid.

Fort Rock Farms produces grass-fed beef, pork, pastured chicken, eggs, veggies, and honey. Back in 2010 and prior to starting the farm, Joel ran into some business challenges after the recession. 

“In 2010 we had a few clients fold up which left us holding a hefty stack of unpaid invoices,” Joel explained. “This was the first and only time I have been left with the uncomfortable feeling of financial insecurity for my family. Never had a life without a mortgage, car payments or utility bills seemed so appealing. We buckled down and fought our way through it, coming out much stronger on the other end with the urge for simple living now front and center. We hopped in Amy’s Jeep to hit the road for a week, looking at rural property and researching what it would take to turn the daydream into a reality. It took over a year to find an untouched 50-acre property that fit our needs which were good soil, great water source yet still close enough to Lake Havasu to commute while we built our new life.”

Thus began their exciting farm dream to financially sustain their new lifestyle. But as Joel discovered, starting a farm is much more challenging that starting other businesses, because he was both starting a business AND building an off-grid home. This made it very difficult to stay focused on critical business priorities.

“Before joining Small Farm Nation Academy we had the same struggles all small businesses face,” Joel explained. “A lack of focus, trying to do too many things at once, etc. But Small Farm Nation Academy helped us set clear goals regarding marketing and narrowing down the number of key products we would focus on.”

The problems that Fork Rock Farms faces today are now a bit different than what many farmers face…too many customers and too few products. Joel explains:

“Having enough product to sell is typically our challenge. There are so many buyers ready to invest in our story, it’s hard to feed them all. Big dreams mean big expenses. Focusing on the business side of farming and having a clear plan would have saved us thousands of dollars in the beginning.”

Ah, but hindsight is 20:20. After excitedly starting a farm business many of us later learn that it would have been best to prioritize marketing, strategy and the business side of farming earlier. But Joel has advice for others who have yet to embrace marketing the way he and Amy did.

“You started farming to farm; not become a marketing professional. After the first season with Small Farm Nation Academy, that’s exactly what we were able to do. Marketing is less than 15% of what our time goes to now. Our email campaigns are simple yet effective. Our social media presence is minimal as we now have a long list of direct customers that are ready to buy whatever we produce, many of them in bulk.”

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: Peaceful Heart Farm

Thriving Farmer: Peaceful Heart Farm

These farmers have got a peaceful, easy feeling!

Scott and Melanie Hall met in 1999 in western North Carolina and become life-long friends. They apprenticed together at a spiritual training center learning how to teach a meditation technique. That is where they developed a deep desire to be close to the land. While apprenticing, they dreamed of a sustainable farm and producing good food as close to nature’s intended way as possible. 

In the summer of 2003 they bought property in southwest Virginia. Their first experience with livestock was in 2006, when they built Salatin-style chicken tractors and raised about a hundred chickens for themselves and friends.

But then they took a long and winding journey before starting a farm, as they describe on their beautiful website. Their lives and jobs took them between Texas, South Carolina and Virginia, which took a stressful toll.

“Five years later I was stressed beyond my capacity to remain sane,” Melanie says. “I needed a nest. For the final two years of working in Beaufort, we rented an apartment. Moving from 100 square feet to over 1,000 square feet of living space was just enough happiness to get me through it. In the end, even that wasn’t enough and we decided to make the leap to full-time homesteaders.” 

In 2011 they got their first cows, as Melanie wanted to try her hand at cheese making. They settled on the Normande breed of cows and dreamed of starting a creamery.

“At first we followed Joel Salatin’s writings and decided to give that a try,” Melanie says. “It fit our image of a peaceful life. We started with chickens and immediately moved to lamb, then cheese. We’ve changed a lot over the years. It has been a great journey. Glad we tested several enterprises over many years before committing to cheesemaking.”

Today, Peaceful Heart Farm sells raw milk via herdshares while Scott tirelessly labors over construction of the creamery. But, even though they both work hard in their farming business, they weren’t always working “on” their farming business.

“Before joining Small Farm Nation Academy our biggest challenge by far was developing the proper state of mind as an entrepreneur,” Melanie said. Understanding the best way to market a small farm business. Properly using a website to build the business. How to build our email list. But the video courses in the Academy covered all my questions and much, much more that. Things I hadn’t even thought about.

In 2020, Scott and Melanie utilized Small Farm Nation’s web design resources to launch their new website, along with a new logo and branding. The site is SEO-optimized and has an online store where they can sell cheese and sign-up new herdshare members.

But there is still work to do in order to get the farm where Scott and Melanie want it.

Melanie says, “The most challenging thing has been setting aside time to focus specifically on marketing. I wish I had worked on developing and maintaining the entrepreneurial mindset from the start. But Tim has tremendous business experience which he applied to his own farm business. His wisdom as it relates to building a small business with a farm focus is in a class of its own.”

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: Kirkwood Heritage

Thriving Farmer: Kirkwood Heritage

These farmers got marketing guidance for their rare and endangered heritage livestock breed business

Seth and Stephanie Furches are the newly married husband and wife team behind the exciting farm business of Kirkwood Heritage. While they may be recently married, Seth is far from new to farming.

Seth grew up in a farming family and ran some of his own animals on the family farm. When Seth started dating Stephanie, they knew farming was in their future. Stephanie grew up in the country but never farmed. Now, she loves the animals and the lifestyle!

“I’m an 8th generational farmer, but we recently got hitched, and bought a farm together,” Seth explained. “Being our second marriage, and wanting to do something new and special with this small farm, we decided to specialize in rare and endangered heritage livestock breeds, of which Seth has some experience. So in several ways, this farm is a second chance or a chance for Redemption. Several springs are on the farm, as well as an 1800’s springhouse, so the name just came together. Ephesians 1:7”

The farm Seth is referring to is Redemption Springs, one of a few farm businesses that Seth is intimately involved with. But Seth came to Small Farm Nation looking for a state-of-the-art website for his newest farming enterprise, Kirkwood Heritage. Kirkwood works with partner farms and markets a meat CSA to customers in the counties around Baltimore, Maryland. There, they specialize in rare endangered breeds, to bring awareness and help these unique genetics and tastes survive in our current age of mass farming and hybridized breeds. Seth and Stephanie have Red Devon beef, Red Waddle pork, Bourbon Red Turkey, and a variety of Heritage Chicken breeds.

Before coming to Small Farm Nation, Seth says his biggest farm marketing challenges were with online marketing, websites, and social media.

“I have never had a truly professional website,” Seth explained. “And I had issues with other companies that promised professional website design but couldn’t deliver. I’ve never had any guidance on marketing strategies other than companies selling direct marketing ads.”

Seth was referred to Small Farm Nation by another Small Farm Nation client. Shortly thereafter, Seth was able to not only launch a slick new website for Kirkwood Heritage, but he was also able to take down two other websites he was paying for and incorporate those into the Kirkwood Heritage site.

“The biggest thing that has already been helpful is the advice and experience,” Seth says. “Tim has offered his time and advice to help us get started and moving in the correct direction with online sales and marketing. The website he created is beautiful and exactly what we were looking for. Tim has helped set us on a path where our time, a valuable but unquantifiable resource, is most effectively allocated.”

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: Longbottom Farm

Thriving Farmer: Longbottom Farm

These Virginia farmers mastered farm marketing. Now, online sales make up HALF of their business!

Jason & Lexi Feyerherd are the dynamic duo living their farm dream at Virginia’s Longbottom Farm. But not long ago they were living a different dream…the typical “suburban dream.” As Lexi describes on their beautiful website, “We had a growing family in a wonderful neighborhood, with good schools, nearby amenities and all the Netflix our wi-fi could handle. It was a wonderful life, but something was missing. Little did we know that a seed had been planted in both of our hearts. And what started as a spark of desire to move to the country, grew into a full-fledged passion for farming. There were many factors at play, but ultimately the desire to responsibly raise safe, nutritious food was the reason we started our small family farm. When we purchased our property, it was advertised with 30 acres of bottomland with a long river frontage. The name Longbottom Farm just jumped out at us.”

Their farm encompasses 55 acres, located along the James River in Scottsville, Virginia. In the past, the land had been used for cattle and pork production, wood milling, and most recently corn and soybean farming. The land needed tender loving care, and livestock was a great way to heal the land. Now, chickens are rotated around the farm, fertilizing the soil while producing some of the best free-range eggs available. The cattle mow and fertilize the fields, which nourish the pastures that in turn nourish the cattle.

Today, Longbottom’s products include grass-fed/grass-finished beef, pastured pork, and fresh eggs from pasture-raised hens.

So, why did Jason and Lexi engage with Small Farm Nation?

“How to market online was our biggest challenge,” Lexi explained. “Learning copywriting skills, building email lists, branding, and engaging our customers online. Farmers Markets have been a large part in growing our farm, but online sales now make up half of our revenue and continue to grow.”

Like so many farmers, it was a passion for the lifestyle that led Jason and Lexi to farming. And they have taken to it with a vengeance. But if there are no customers to buy the farm products, profitable farming can instead be a money-sucking hobby. So they decided to invest in learning the critical marketing skills they needed to ensure their farm would thrive financially.

“The Small Farm Nation Academy courses did a great job in teaching us how to brand, how to convert social media likes into website traffic, and how to be engaging with our customers through emails and social media,” Lexi said. “The forums are also a great resource for knowledge as well as to interact with other farmers building their farm businesses.”

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: Restoration Acres

Thriving Farmer: Restoration Acres

After ditching Wix to create a much better farm website, these awesome farmers began mastering farm marketing

Rachel and Matthew Palma are the can-do farmers behind Virginia’s Restoration Acres, a farm with the tagline “Food that Restores.” Their passion through our regenerative farming practices is to see restoration happen to our earth and ecology, to the health and well being of those who consume their products, to the animals they raise, and ultimately in our community and their food and farming systems. They may be farmers now. But like many of us, they didn’t grow up that way.

“We were both raised in the city with no family history of farming,” Rachel says. “Matt has always had a love for the outdoors but was told as a teenager that he was “too smart to farm” after expressing a mild interest in it. Two years into our marriage we came across a documentary about regenerative farming called “Fresh.” We were instantly hooked and immediately delved into all things farming. Almost one year later we began an 8-month apprenticeship at a well-established farm in Virginia where we got the vital hands-on experience we desperately needed. We have now been farming for a total of seven years, 6 of those being with our own farm business.”

Restoration Acres produces and sells pastured chicken and pastured pork. Customers can buy it in their slick online store, and choose one of many dropsite/pick-up locations in the Lynchburg/Roanoke area.

Rachel explains why they engaged with Small Farm Nation.

“Our big challenge was digital marketing. We thankfully established a good customer base from the get go by utilizing a year-round farmers market in our area. We’ve shown up nearly every Saturday for the past six years and have been able to build relationships with our customers that way. However, our website, which was done by us through a free version of Wix, was in desperate need of help for many years. We were so focused on the farming side of things and although we knew the importance of digital marketing we never made it a priority. It was challenging to rationalize making time for marketing when we were so enveloped in day-to-day farm chores and trying to grow our business the way we knew how.”

But, after finding the Small Farm Nation podcast, a fire was lit. Rachel and Matthew realized they had to give farm marketing the attention it needed.

Small Farm Nation really helped us prioritize our marketing strategies,” Rachel explained. “Not only were we able to build a professional, user-friendly website for our farm using Small Farm Nation, we also learned the value in email marketing. Until listening to Tim’s podcasts and becoming members of the Small Farm Nation Academy, we never knew how important email list building and email marketing were. Thanks to the videos and resources in the Academy we have successfully streamlined all of our digital marketing avenues to point to our website which then points people to signup to our email list. This has made communication to our hundreds of customers much more efficient, ultimately turning them into raving fans and loyal customers.”

When asked what they see as the most challenging part of running a profitable farm business, and what she wishes they would have focused on earlier, Rachel had this to say:

“If we could start over, I would build a professional website from the start to make finding us, ordering product, and staying connected easier for our customers. As the marketing manager of our farm, I found it very challenging to constantly receive emails, texts, and phone calls from customers who had very basic questions that would have been easily answered had we been clearly communicating via our website and regular farm emails. Since we have streamlined all of our communication and marketing channels into a simple and efficient system, I have found myself having time to do the more important work of creating relevant content for our customers, filling and delivering orders, and the hundreds of other tasks our farm business requires of me.”

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.

Create your 2021 digital farm marketing plan with the FREE Farm Marketing Trail Map

Awesome! Check your email (including promotional tabs)