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Archive | October, 2015

Large-Scale Community Farming — PrairiErth Shares Strategy, Lessons on Organic Transition

Large-Scale Community Farming

The team at PrairiErth Farm includes (from left): Annette McKeown (apprentice), Jon Clayschute (crew leader), Cassidy A. Dellorto-Blackwell (apprentice), Carly Ambrose (apprentice), Leslie Gravitt (harvesthand), Craig Tepen (farmhand and wholesale coordinator), Katie Bishop (farmer/owner) Hans Bishop (farmer/owner), Graham Bishop (“pig guy;” helps Dave with chores and manages the pigs) and farmer/owner Dave Bishop.

by Tamara Scully

PrairiErth Farm’s 400 acres of Illinois fields are home to corn, soybeans, oats, wheat and alfalfa. They are also home to a diversity of livestock, 10 acres of vegetable crops, 10,000 square feet of hoop house growing areas and beehives. And they are certified organic. The farm, nestled within the Big Ag world of the Midwest, promotes a globally local food system. Their stated mission of “working to develop sustainable life systems on the farm,” extends well beyond the farm. Not only do owner Dave Bishop and his family promote sustainable agriculture to local politicians, the family regularly advocates in Washington, D.C. They continually work to develop a food system in which organic agriculture, independent farmers, regional processors and local agricultural systems work together to grow food transparently, fostering lasting connections between farmer and eater.

“I believe a diverse mix of plants and animals is the foundation of a sustainable farm, and the emerging globally local food systems offer the best — and perhaps ultimately the only — real path into a food secure future,” said Dave Bishop. Continue Reading →

Meet an Eco-Farmer: Feral Heart Farm

Feral Heart Farm Eco-Farmer

Aaron Dinwoodie, Feral Heart Farm

Why did you begin farming?

To learn how to grow my own food and share that skill with others.

Have you always been an ecofarmer, or did you make a change?

Yes, I’ve always been an ecofarmer since I started farming.

What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?

Accessing quality farmland and water.

What do you enjoy most about farming?

That’s hard; there are so many things, I don’t like to play favorites. The thing I enjoy most about farming is growing seed to seed, seeing plant crops live out their full life cycles. In other words, seed saving.

Continue Reading →

View from the Country: “Borrowing Dulls the Edge of Husbandry”

acres-usa-manBen Franklin, a favorite founder around this office as he was a writer, a publisher and a printer, is often quoted as saying “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

He did speak this wisdom, but didn’t coin the phrase. He was quoting Shakespeare who wrote these words as fatherly advice dispensed in Hamlet. The full quote is, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

We were digging around the quote bin because the thought came to us of another major divide — between the goals and actions of modern eco-agriculture and what has become conventional farming. Eco-farming seeks to remain debt-free, giving back to the soil what it consumes, or more, and not foisting hazardous wastes onto others. Continue Reading →

Tips for Marketing and Selling Your Pork

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How to Get Started with Marketing Pork

When marketing pork, you get to pick the level of information that you share with your customer tribe on a regular basis. It has been my experience that most folks are interested in the general picture, but not the nitty-gritty details. That said, maybe your tribe is. Follow your heart to find out what your farm brand is all about. Developing a unique voice, the one you use for all of your farm brands marketing efforts, is part of the work of cultivating your tribe of die hard customers who absolutely love your products.

Using a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and a farm website in a cohesive manner is an effective way to put your farm presence out into the world. A well-designed website with information about you, your farm, your farm products and regular updates on your activities provides a professional backbone to the rest of your Internet presence. I highly recommend updating your website’s blog at least once a week — it is hard to do that in the busy seasons, but it will grow content for your website that otherwise would become a static and boring page that is not often visited by even your most loyal fans. Keep the look of your website updated, and streamline the information and features so that people can easily find what they are seeking. You can never go wrong with a post that includes baby animal pictures. DIY ideas are very sought after, as well as cooking ideas for your products. In fact, including cooking ideas and pictures of your product is one of the most important aspects of your web presence — the more delicious ideas for your products that you can share, the better the odds are that a potential customer will buy your products to try them out for themselves.

Tips for Marketing Pork

• Begin by making sure you have all your bases covered in regards to
rules and regulations.
• Get your pig transportation and pork delivery methods set up, or at
least have an idea and a plan of how you will go about solving these
critical logistics.
• Create the backbone of your Internet presence — your website — with
the help of web-savvy friends, business partners, or pay for professional
web design services.

Marketing pork

Offering samples is a smart way to get the word out about your pork

• Begin your social media campaign immediately, and spend time every
day updating it all.
• Go out into the world and sample the heck out of your product.
• Work with event people to be showcased at relevant gatherings.
• Make sure your pork ordering webpage is clear and attractive. Include
information on payment, shipping costs and delivery schedule.
• Set up your inventory system so that you have a general idea of what
you have on hand at any given time. You should be ready to fulfill
orders when you add an email link or phone number for customers
to submit orders and begin to advertise your pork and request orders
on your social media or any other marketing materials you produce.
When a customer emails you or calls you with an order you can now
create an invoice in Paypal or other format. Utilizing online invoicing
or a simple invoice pad and cash/check system is up to your preference,
but definitely keep an ear open and listen to what your customers
want. After you receive your orders for the week, it is time to map
out your delivery route. Your invoices become your packing list.
• Deliver your products on the correct date and time with a smile.

Andrew French and his wife, Khaiti, own Living the Dream Farm (www.ltdfarm.com, www.farmerkhaiti.wordpress.com) in western Wisconsin, a 39-acre small-scale and diversified eco-farm, raising pastured ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, pigs and produce for a unique CSA program.

These tips appear in the October 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.