Tag Archives: Small farm marketing

Marketing- The Local Farmer’s Market

We have been attending the local Farmer’s Market selling our cuts of Ossabaw Island pork and fresh brown eggs.  We have enjoyed meeting new people, and it gives our back a break from the farm work.( With a big thank you to my parents for their time spent helping set up and tear down.) Our time spent at the market is one way we are marketing and branding our farm in the local community.

There are hundreds of ways to market your farm. But our main goal is  to increase brand recognition, and produce some cash flow.  A Farmers Market in a small community can be a great place to sell your products, but use it to network and generate sales directly from the farm as well.

In our community it seems that meat vendors  have been very spotty at the Farmer’s Market.  And from customer reaction they are not use to the level of care we put into our animals. Customers are pleased to learn that our meat is raised with no antibiotic, no vaccines, and no added hormones, but are not educated on why it makes a difference. We spend time with our customers giving information on why our pork is better. Not every customer is in the market for pork at that time, but hopefully our information will bring them back to us when they are.

Tent at the Farmers Market
Burnin R Farms set up at the Monett Farmer’s Market

I am not the best at decorating, but I am very good at being unique. Our tent is very noticeable among the other vendors. I am also using computer cut vinyl letters wherever possible to make clear, readable signs. No one should have to decipher my handwriting. Our pricing board has vinyl letters on a whiteboard, so we can adjust prices without recreating the whole board.

Burinn R Farms Sign
Burnin R Farms Metal Sign

I made a farm sign out of an old metal sign I had made when I was taking motorcycles to bike shows. I cut the vinyl and applied it to the sign. Recognition is a great way to create credibility, the more someone sees your “look” in a positive atmosphere the more it is perceived as credible.

We are increasing sales every week. We are gaining repeat customers and we have even scheduled a sale of a whole hog in September.  I am surprised at how the egg sales have really taken off, I am needing to add more hens to the coop now.

Marketing is like a marathon, you may sprint occasionally, but a steady gain is the best.

 


 

 

 

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New Income Stream For Burnin R Farms

I am always looking for another good way to add another stream of income. When something catches my eye I do a lot of research to see if it would be a good fit for our operation. One day I stumbled onto a story that I just couldn’t get out of my head. The more I researched it, the more it made sense to me to give it a try.

Mushrooms!!  Not the kind made famous in the 70’s, but the kind that are showing up in farmers markets across the country. There are many different kind of edible mushrooms but the most popular are different varieties of Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms. These are often referred to as gourmet mushrooms and are not usually available in local grocery stores because these varieties are delicate and do not ship well.

Europe and Asia have had a large industry farming gourmet mushrooms for many years. In some 3rd world communities mushrooms are a great source of food and revenue.  But in the United States, we have been slow to grasp the value of mushrooms. In recent years the U.S.  has slowly been increasing its consumption of mushrooms, making now a perfect time to get into this industry.

I could write a book from what I have learned about the health benefits of mushrooms. They have been studied for heart health, diabetic health, nerve health, and for their anti- tumor properties. Eastern Medicine is full of references to different mushrooms. Mushrooms have even been found in archeological studies of ancient cultures.  I have also learned that the gourmet types that are raised are included on the list of mushroom that are known to improve health.

I have chose several varieties that I will be growing, but I have started with Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Lion’s Mane is a very aggressive grower and it loves to produce the fruit that we eat. I have been told that the flavor is reminiscent of lobster, but it reminded me of eating morels as a kid.

Lion’s mane in nature grows on hardwood trees.  This year I saw one while deer hunting in Southern Missouri, so they are also a local mushroom for most people and can be wild harvested. I will be growing mine on hardwood pellets with supplements in a bag.

The mushroom forms a mat of mycelium  in and around the hardwood sawdust in the bag.  After it has fully colonized the bag, it ready to fruit.

Lions Mane Mushroom Fruiting
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Fruiting

 

 

By cutting a small slit in the bag the concentration of oxygen spurs the mushroom to fruit. It starts to grow outside of the bag. In the picture, there is a small ball on the front of the bag. That initial start will grow to beautiful mushroom.

 

 

It takes several days to grow to full maturity. While it is growing it is important give it a small misting to keep it moist and hydrated.

Lions Mane Mushroom starting to grow
Lion’s Mane Mushroom starting to grow

 

Lion’s mane, when young looks like a cauliflower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is really hard to patiently wait for this mushroom to grow

Lions Mane Mushroom Still Growing
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Still Growing

 

 

Wow, it just keeps growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions Mane Mushroom Still Growing
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Still Growing

 

 

Boy, this mushroom is looking great!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions Mane Mushroom Almost Mature
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Almost Mature

 

Almost a week of growth. You can see the hair like projections starting to grow. When fully mature these hairs will flow down giving it a mane like look, Hence the name Lion’s Mane.

This project is just begun and I am so excited to expand the operation. I am also excited to finally be able use my degree in Biotechnology to to benefit the farm.

 

 

 


 

A Brand or Logo- Why Is It Important

Do you have your own brand or unique product? If you don’t, how will anyone pick you or your product over others? How do you set your farm or your product apart from everyone else?

Creating an identity  that people notice is what all businesses strive to do. Your identity is almost as important as your product. Having an identity or brand will go a long way in the eye of the consumer, just like street credibility. The more often a consumer is in contact with your identity, the better your product seems.

Humans are funny creatures, what we see  or hear creates our reality. Our brains collect and store data, some we use immediately, some we use to support later thoughts.  If we shop for a product, a product that we have stored thoughts on,  is immediately in better standing than one that we have nothing to recall. Stored thoughts can be from seeing the product first hand, or from a friend that has told us about it. Branding creates stored thoughts that can be used to validate and support decisions of consumers.

Humans are also herd animals, we strive to belong. A brand can give you opportunities to give someone a sense of being a part of your business or product. If you put on a baseball cap, what is on it?  It will usually have a brand or logo of something that you have an interest in, a sports team, a hunting brand, or a saying of some kind. This is how companies can get placed into your stored data and how they can influence your buying decisions.

Branding is used by companies to represent them. Companies use names, symbols, jingles, styles of writing, and even animals to create their brand. Ranches use a symbol burned into the hide of cattle to represent them and show ownership, these symbols are called brands. Can you see a Clydesdale horse and not think of beer?

As small business owners we should tap into this marketing tool. We should be finding ways to get stored in consumers minds. Product or brand placement is everywhere, stickers on vehicles, t-shirts, coats, hats, signs, billboards, radio spots, commercials, and even tattoos. even with a shoe-string budget, a business should be able to find a way to place their brand in the view or ear of a consumer.

If you are a farmer at a farmer’s market, make sure your tent has your brand or name on it. if you have your meat processed to sell, have the processor put our name on the label. If you drive a vehicle,  have your brand or name on a magnetic sign that you can stick  to it. Get t-shirts made to wear when you  are out shopping, and give them to friends to wear.

There are a thousand ways to get noticed. Even the cheapest ideas can give your business a boost. Get creative and get seen or heard by your future customer.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Meat Processing Dilemma Rant

We are in a bad part of Missouri to be able to find a butcher that will process under USDA Inspection. We have tried 3 different processors and I am not satisfied with any of them. Unfortunately the closest processor is an hour and a half drive away. It usually takes 2 trips for each batch, but when they make mistakes it takes 3, and that really eats at the profits.

The first processor we used is over capacity and can’t keep up the pace without making mistakes on orders. They forgot to season the sausage, couldn’t find our customers order so they could pay over the phone, completely misinformed one of my customers of their order, and forgot to give us all of our order when we picked it up.

On to processor #2.  We sell Ossabaw Island Pigs for custom slaughter, not the usual pig that they see around here. I get that, but please be professional about it. They called my customer and told him he probably wouldn’t get any bacon because the pig was too small,  all without even looking at the carcass. When I called to figure out what was going on the person told me no bacon as well, eventually I ended up being scolded by the owner. The short of it,  I was told that my pigs were pot bellies( 3 times) and that it was not their fault that they misinformed my customer. No customer relations at all, I was not impressed. I ended up cancelling 2 other pigs I was going to take there the next week.  Oops, I forgot to call and tell them I cancelled.  I am sure that they didn’t miss some measly old “pot bellies” or any future pigs that I may have taken there.

Processor #3. I really like this processor other than the drive. They are really nice to work with, but they have also made some mistakes. They didn’t process my bacon under inspection on one order so it was all labeled “not for sale”. Another order had all jalapeno cheddar brats instead of mostly original brats with a few jalapeno. Plus this last time it has taken a month and a half to get my bacon back.

I am running out of options. I believe I have exhausted my choices for processors without traveling 2 plus hours in each direction. I would just like to be able to get my pork processed without drama and in a timely manner.

I hate having to rely on outside vendors when quality control is of importance. It seems that every aspect of quality is out of my control, being timely is out of my control, and I am tired of apologizing to my customers for my vendors faults. The only option I see to regain control, is to look into what parts of the processing can we feasibly take on ourselves.

Getting into meat processing is a costly undertaking. Plus the regulatory aspects of processing meat to be sold are daunting. I have been racking my brain, I know it can be done, but more research is needed. It looks like with my current situation I will need to have them killed under inspection at the very least, then find a way to cut and wrap under a retail exemption.

Why must I do this?

Because others can’t seem to handle their jobs!! — At least not to the standards that I want for my customers.

It may take a few headaches and some spilled blood ( from hard work), but I will find a way!!


 

Burnin R CSA

There is a way to get great farm raised meat without having to buy the whole hog at once. Our CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture) program offers a share of 15 lbs. of meat each month. Plus, Discounts off of our retail prices are given for pre-payments of 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months shares.

We put our CSA customers first. Their orders are filled first. Plus we try include bonus products that we produce here on the farm when we can.

We will be implementing new CSA pricing options in the  fall. The new options will include a Premium share of Ossabaw Island pork, or a Standard share of pork from one of our other fine breeds. Our current Members will continue to enjoy Ossabaw Island and Ossabaw Island cross pork for the duration of their share purchase. So if you buy in before our new options are implemented, you will be grandfathered into our Premium share.

Our Egg CSA is will be starting up soon. The hens are ramping up to supply us with great farm-fresh brown eggs. Get signed up now! Orders will be limited starting out this Spring.

For more information on our CSA please visit: http://burninr.com/BurninrCSA.html


 

My “Small Farm Vs. Corporate Farm” Rant

Small farm knowledge is disappearing. The small farm way of life was once standard procedure. In the Midwest the landscape use to be dotted with small farms. Fried Chicken was not from colonel Sanders, it was from Grandma’s backyard pluckin.

There is a huge disconnect from the small family farm. I believe that with the  growing push towards corporate farming, the old school way of life is disappearing. I disagree with corporate farming. Corporations believe that they are the answer to feeding the populous. And their goal is to program that into the next generation and take away their self reliance. Not to mention that corporations are self serving and prefer profits over heath. They feed us antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically modified products, not because they are healthier for us but because they increase profits.

I talked with a college student in Agriculture studies a few weeks back. At her college they are teaching that GMO’s are the only way that we will be able to feed the growing population. And this comes from a very conservative college. Once again that notion that “we have to feed the population” is mainstream. What happened to the population being able to feed itself.

Well, a United States Department of Agriculture report revealed that in 1935 there were 6.8 million farms and by 2002 only 2.1 million small farms remained. That is  4.7 million small farms lost. Those small farms that were lost could not only feed themselves and others, but they taught self reliance to their next generation.  That individual knowledge of  self reliance is not profitable to  corporations that want you dependent on them.

Luckily, the masses are being slowly  re-educated and are wising up to the corporate propaganda. The push for healthy food is helping create a market once again for the small farm. A market that the big corporations can’t tap into. More and more people are choosing to raise their own meat, even chickens in urban backyards are popping up everywhere.

I believe that small farms can feed our growing population, but the small farms need to do more education and marketing. If you raise healthy meat but nobody knows it, it won’t sell. Make your farm known. Put up signs, join farmers markets, or put ads on Craigslist. The idea of purchasing from a small farm will catch on, and people will realize that meat doesn’t just come from the big box grocery store.

If you don’t have a farm, you can still get involved by supporting your local small farm. Go to the farmer’s market, join a CSA, or put a chicken tractor in your back yard. Find a way to not support the corporations that are counting on you to fill their pockets.

Good Luck !!

 

 

 

 

Multiple Streams of Income

“Don’t put your eggs all in one basket”   is the old saying that everyone should be practicing on their farm, and not just in the hen house. It is wise to not rely on just one feed supplier in case of an emergency. You are using the same concept by having an emergency generator. Backing yourself up just makes sense.

Farm revenue should be no different. You should create multiple streams of income in case one stream’s flow starts to slow down.  The fancy word for this is diversification. You can even  create this in multiple levels, like diversifying your diversification. Now that is fancy.

Farm diversification can be as simple as running cattle and hogs. That is two different streams of income. Or you can be a go getter and run cattle, hogs, raise chickens,  grow a garden to sell vegetables, grow and sell sweet corn, and bale hay. I would rather try to earn a portion of my income from different sources, than try to squeeze as much out of one source as possible and hope it is enough.

If you want to get fancy. Diversify your cattle into multiple streams of income.  Do that by selling replacement heifers, selling bulls, selling to your neighbor for the meat, or renting a bull out for breeding. Diversify your Hogs by selling feeder pigs, market hogs, breeding pairs, and for custom processing. Diversify your chickens by selling eggs, laying hens, baby chicks, and roasters for the meat. Then mix all of their manure together and sell the compost. The key to success is trying to see how many ways you can individually market your products by breaking them down into separate components. Then try to break them down again until you have created as many revenue streams as you can handle.

How many ways can you sell an egg?

Good Luck!!


 

How to market your piglets

 

It is hard to make money with pigs if you can’t get them sold.  Getting started in marketing your pigs will take a lot of trial and error. Every farm’s local market will differ and you may need to experiment with marketing plans to find what is most productive.

I have found that for my area Craigslist works the best. I also try to make sales by word of mouth, networking, Facebook groups, and referrals. I try to get word out in as many places that I can. The further I can cast out my info the better I feel about getting my products sold.

I do make sales from word of mouth, networking, and referrals, but those sales are random and hard to rely on. The Facebook groups I list my pigs on are almost worthless, but fun to watch. The other members of those Facebook groups act like vultures waiting for the unsuspecting person that undervalues his pigs. They latch on to posts to watch. Maybe they are trying to learn, but I have never had a serious inquiry from one of my Facebook posts.

I have sold almost all of my pigs from ads on Craigslist. I post my ads in three local markets as soon as I know how many piglets I have to sell. I advertise them up to three weeks before I wean them. My goal is to have every piglet spoken for before I wean them, the longer you feed them the more money you lose. If you have them listed for sale before you wean them, you are less likely to be anxious to make a sale and less likely to take a lessor offer.

If you have litters planned, but not yet on the ground, don’t be afraid to advertise. Building a reservation list for feeder pigs, gives you a stand-by market. Working off of a reservation list gives your pigs a built in appearance of high demand. The appearance of high demand gives the buyer confidence to purchase and makes them less likely to try to dicker on price. Soon you will be working off of a reservation list because you can’t keep up with the demand.

Good Luck!!