Friday, April 29, 2011

Marketing: Know your target

Let's talk for a moment about our audience.  A big mistake that farmers make when it comes to selling their products is not knowing "who" they are selling to.

For example: If you are an artisanal cheese maker trying to sell your cheese, the parking lot of a dollar/super store would be a bad market for you. The clientele that visit the super stores on a regular basis are not the type of people who will pay a premium price for premium cheese. They are interested in getting the most out of their dollar. Quality is not even a second thought.

Many times, a farmer's market stand will not do well. This may or may not be because of the producer, the set up or the advertising of your booth. It's possible that it is due to the market itself. Look around. Are the other products offered comparable to yours?  Are the visitors looking for a deal or looking for healthy local food?

Most times, your market focus should be on folks just like you, but with a little more cash. Ha!

Your homework:
Take some time to think about your best clients. What are they like? What do they drive?
How can you get more like them?

It is easier to get 100 people to spend $1,000 with you, than 1,000 people to spend $100 with you.

Questions? Let's talk.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Day In My Life

I thought it would be fun to post about a day's events working here at the farm. I often get asked what a typical work day is like at Polyface, but in all honesty, there is no "typical" day. Every day is so unique!. Everyone works in many fields of expertise, so we all get to learn all aspects of a successful farming enterprise. Here is what I did yesterday. A big thank you to Wendy for the pictures!

6:10 A.M. Wake-up, crawl out of my top bunk bed, and get ready for the day.

6:18 A.M. Walk outside and head down the hill to my chores. There is a beautiful sunrise as the glowing orange sun poked through the trees. The morning is warm, and I am thankful to be able to wear a t-shirt again after the chilly winter.

I care for the brooder. There are week-old broiler chicks and turkeys in the brooder now. They are doing well and enjoying the warm weather, too. After doing the brooder chores, I head up the road with Daniel Salatin and an apprentice, Brian Nelson, to broiler chores. Another apprentice, Eric Barth, is already there moving the broiler shelters. We finish moving, watering, and feeding the birds.

Today is our first butchering day for the year. Restaurants have placed orders for the fresh chicken, so we catch enough birds to fill their orders, and head in to breakfast.

7:38 A.M. Breakfast time. I make breakfast: an omelet with hot italian sausage, onions, sharp cheddar cheese, and collard greens. I also check up on on some emails.

8:36 A.M. I head down the hill to the processing shed and begin to set up for processing the birds. It is the first day of processing in our new processing shed. It looks so new and beautiful!

We begin to process the broilers, and some roosters too. Several new farmers came to learn how to process birds, so we took the time to teach them the techniques. I had the privilege to gut the birds alongside Joel, who is an incredibly swift and talented gutter himself.

We process all the birds and clean up the shed. Birds, hearts & livers, and feet are chilled. Bag up the hearts and livers.

12:07 P.M. Lunch time. I make lunch (yummy leftovers), check emails, and do the dishes.

12:52 P.M. Begin bagging the roosters and chilling the broilers for the restaurants. We bag all the feet, too.

2:23 P.M. Head down the road to the processing place where our beeves and hogs are butchered. I pick up the orders and head back home.

4:32 P.M. Arrive back at Polyface. Unload the meat with Eric. I care for the brooder and begin sorting eggs with the other farmhands.

5:48 P.M. Chores are complete - cows are moved to new pasture, birds are watered and fed, chicks are happy, eggs are gathered, sorted, and put away.

After that I ate made and ate dinner, relaxed, did the dishes, and folded my laundry....

What have you been up to this week? Or what is your daily life like?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garden goodies and pasta from Rome



Add ImageI am absolutely in  love with springtime in Virginia. Wow! Does it get any better than this? I can hardly keep my eyes on the road when I run out to do an errand. It's so beautiful. Everything is blooming, turning our world green.

I must extend a big thanks to John and Emily Achin for introducing us to the gardening book, "Dirty Knees". I think I'm on my third time reading over it. It's so specific about what to plant when for our area. A true godsend for this California transplant! 

Our garden is huge and I'm into starting small so we portioned off a small area and put up some barriers for wildlife. Here's a peek at what's coming up! Spinach and peas. ( I love to companion plant.) Onions with beets soon to follow. Potatoes, fava beans, kale, lettuces, chard, kohlrabi, flowers, and carrots. Lots of carrots. 
In our hoop house we have corn bursting forth, tomatoes right behind, cukes and a few strawberries. Thanks to the hens they left all of there nitrogen behind for us to plant away in. The corn came up like lightening! There is something so empowering about growing your own food.
Here's an italian pasta recipe that Daphne prepared. Another yummy treat all the way from Rome! 

typical pasta sauce recipe from Rome.

saute pancetta (polyface bacon) diced into small cubes
add onions, finely sliced
when onions are browining add a generous amount of Marsala.
(It is a sweet cooking wine usually found near ports and sherrys).
Add crushed red pepper flakes, for a little kick, according to your flavor preference.
Let the wine cook off a little and add tomatoes.
You can add preserved tomatoes (if canned I like to use a hand blender to have a smoother texture) or fresh, finely diced tomatoes.
Stir nicely and let the whole sauce reduce.

Separately cook linguine (or more traditionally, bucatini, thick spagetthi with a whole in the middle that can be challenging to eat but an experience).
Strain the cooked pasta and mix thoroughly with the sauce, serve and sprinkle abundantly with parmiggiano or pecorino romano.
Enjoy hot!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In the Garden

This morning I picked radishes from the garden and will spend most of the day weeding between our lettuce greens. We'll be cooking for the wedding of one of our former interns this coming Saturday and it's so fun to see much of what we've grown this spring going towards it.

What's popping up in your garden lately? Or what are you looking forward to popping up?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Discussions for The Dirty Life (Question #3 and 4)

We are discussing The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. Please feel free to jump right in!

Question #3
Mark and Kristin start a farm that aims to provide a whole diet for their year-round members. 
If a farm in your area did the same thing, would you become a member? 
How would it change the way you cook and eat?

Question #4
The first year on Essex Farm was full of trial and error. Kristin had never farmed before and much of her knowledge came from her neighbors and from books. 
In what ways did all of the mishaps shape Kristin and change her perspective?

Further discussions:
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