Friday, June 3, 2011

Marketing: Restaurants 101 - Step Three (understanding chefs)

Today, we're continuing the Marketing to Restaurants series. If you are just joining us, you can read the other two posts:
  1. Preparing a hit list
  2. Comparing menu, products and pricing
Step Three: Understanding Chefs

This is an absolute must for farmers. Many of us farmers are not naturally out-going people-pleasing type people. Yes, that is a stereo-type and what I'm going to give you here is also a stereo-type for chefs.  However, I have found that even when I'm wrong in assuming this, no offense is taken. In fact, quite the opposite. The chefs I talk to know that they and their time is respected.

Chefs are:
  • Artistic
  • Picky
  • Busy
  • Tired
  • Take Charge
  • Schedule Oriented
Think about this a moment and imagine.

The kitchen is hot. They are commanding a crew of twenty plus helpers running around which they have to keep busy or they'll trip over them. The dining room is full of 40 hungry, picky customers who expect their food to be perfect every time and are paying top dollar for that perfect meal. Not to mention the phone on the kitchen wall is ringing off the hook with farmers trying to sell them their products and yammering on and on about the weather and other such nonsense (this is from their viewpoint).  Oh, and did I mention the delivery truck out back waiting for an invoice to be signed, payment and directions to where they want the products?

So, tell me, if you were in this situation, would you be cool, calm and collected?

Respect them. If you don't, they will hear the disdain in your voice. You'll probably get cussed at and hung up on. It's all about them. If you are country music fan, Toby Keith's I want to talk about me is a great marketing song.  The focus is on them.

Read the chef's story if available. Most restaurants will have a little bit of information on their website about the chef. Read between the lines and try to get a feel for the type of person he or she is.

That's all for this week. We'll continue with marketing to restaurants next week.

Your turn to share:

How are you liking this series so far?
Are you finding it helpful?
Has anything I've written surprised you?

Do you agree or disagree with anything so far? Let's talk.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

At the End of the Day


Some days are just like this. Yesterday was classic - it was good and hard, long and productive.

It's real.

Real life isn't always picture perfect. There are moments that you wonder if it can get any worse. There are times when you are weary and worn out, but you keep pushing because you're the only one to get the job done. And there are times when you laugh so hard your sides hurt, or the praises of a job well done make your day that much brighter.

At the end of the day, it's about being thankful for a good day's work. Yes, you might be sore and tired, thirsty and in need of a good shower, but you can know you did your best and put in a full day of honest-to-goodness hard work. I have to remind myself of this, too. It's important to remember that what we do every day isn't just work - it's creating our lives, who we are.

Last night I had a lot weighing on my mind, so I sat out in the yard and looked at the stars for a while. It was so restful, and helped me to put some things into perspective. I thought about the work we do every day, the good times and tough times. It's so real.

Remember to take time to gaze at the stars. Smile at daisies. Take in a young calf nursing it's mama, or a sunset that takes your breath away. Broiler pens marching across the pasture in the morning sunlight, or the smell of fresh-cut hay. A meal shared with friends.

It's the simple, little moments that make it all worth it to me. What about you? What are your thoughts on work and making time for resting, relaxing, or making memories?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Building Community at Buxton

Several months ago I discovered the local magazine "Edible Blue Ridge." It's loaded with like minded people doing neat things. After reading about a group of young people who volunteer their time on farms, I contacted them. This weekend a group of them came out to Buxton. They call themselves The Valley Crop Mob - young people who are eager to learn aspects of farming. We invited them out to assist us in our second harvest of broilers. It was a delightful event filled with good music, personal discovery, and lots of sharing. One of them, a vegetarian, partook without any resistance! Very impressive.

One of the best things Buxton has to offer is not only a beautiful setting but also a gorgeous river for swimming. Since Buxton is truly rural, we invited them out to camp the night before, included them in breakfast and after the harvest, we provided a delicious lunch which included a dish with Polyface pork sausage. They devoured it! They spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the river and the remarkable land that surrounds us.

This is one of the reasons we want to farm. To work with interesting people, break bread, laugh together, share ideas and farming or gardening techniques, and stand in appreciation together for the unending beauty that surrounds us. We do hope they will return, along with many others! ~Grace (who can't get on to blog right now.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Farm Chicks' Book Club June and July Pick - Made From Scratch

Our Book Club pick for June and July is Made From Scratch by JennaWoginrich

Jenna Woginrich

"Little Steps are the way to get started."

Jenna Woginrich started her independent life in a small city apartment, right after college. Consumerism didnt feel right to her so with characteristic self-determination, she decided to learn homesteading skills. She didnt own land, she worked a desk job, she didnt have much practical experience other than the occasional weekend spent making soap, but she did have a strong desire to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on stuff. Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life is the chronicle of her joyful, dramatic, and sometimes sorrowful journey toward self-reliance.

What Jenna didnt realize at the time was that her decision wasnt an isolated thought. Todays young people are taking back the land, to grow crops, raise animals for food and farm work, and sustain themselves with their produce, eggs, and dairy products. More and more generations are leaving corporate America to go back to the old ways of farming; but theyre doing it with the help of todays technology and science, as Jenna does.

Jenna discovered the term back-breaking isnt really an exaggeration when attempting to clear a plot for a vegetable garden; she learned the hard way that if a hive of bees doesnt have a queen (because she didnt know it was packed separately) they die out. And she learned that once an animal is in your care, it is up to you to protect it and keep it from harmand whatever happens, it is up to you to deal with the consequences.

She also discovered the joys of harvesting freshly laid eggs from her own hens, taking in the heady perfume of honey fresh from the comb, playing the sweet music of a mountain dulcimer to her dogs, Annie and Jazz, as well as feeling the pride of being able to teach others how to live this simple, satisfying lifestyle. Made from Scratch is a memoir that instructs with the practical voice of one who states, I made this mistake, so you dont have to. Jenna owns her mistakes but she also shares the exultation of her accomplishments with readers as well as her optimism that we can all learn to live closer to the earth and with fewer footprints on the land.

The smallest steps toward self-sufficiency -- a windowbox vegetable garden, a batch of homemade strawberry jam, or a backyard flock of chickens -- all satisfy the craving to homestead. Made from Scratch isnt about having a farmhouse on acres of land or a barn full of livestock. Its about being more open to learning the simple skills most of us have forgotten, and finding joy in the process.

Your Turn:
Will you join us?
Where is the best place to buy this book?
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