It’s project time at This Old Farm! During the early months of the year livestock farmers turn their attention to preparing for springtime births, rather than bringing animals in for processing. Thus, we find ourselves with less time dedicated to processing and more time available to work on projects.
Among the primary goals of This Old Farm is to help to reduce the disconnect between consumers and farmers. Thus far, we’ve done this by adopting a policy of 100% transparency and traceability with all our products. Our customers know that all product is labeled with the name of the farm it came from. We maintain a relationship with the farmer to be aware of how they raise their livestock, fruits, or vegetables and are very willing to pass this information on to our customers when requested. Depending on farmer willingness and availability we can even arrange a tour of the farm so you can see, hear, smell, and feel exactly how they raise their livestock (we recommend waiting to taste until after you’ve purchased the animal). However, farmers and our customers are often busy, so arranging farm field trips is challenging. To this end, we’re beginning construction of a small “mock” farm adjacent to our processing facility. This farm will not be production oriented, but education oriented, allowing us to create a small scale representative example of the many farms we work with. Thus our customers don’t just hear or read about where their food came from, but can perceive and interact with it.
Though this educational farm will expose consumers to livestock, this in no way undermines our belief that customers should know exactly where their food is coming from, which necessitates being familiar with their farmer. As a middleman in the supply chain, we deal with farmers on one hand and the consumers on the other, with not enough instances of having both together. In order to encourage our farmers and customers to get together and shake hands, we’ll be constructing a pavilion on site. The first of many This Old Farm Farmer Appreciation Days will be held in this yet to be built pavilion on Saturday May 19th and will give us an opportunity to bring together our buyers and suppliers under the same roof sharing good food (look for additional updates regarding this event in future newsletters).
One of the major challenges to providing good food at gatherings is cooking it. Arranging a large grill can be time consuming and expensive. For consumers, a lack of knowledge as to how to prepare food (and how easy it can be) is often a deterrent to buying good food in place of a microwaveable dinner. In order to help our consumers overcome this, and to make it easier for us to offer samples of our product, we’ll be expanding our ready-to-eat kitchen. The extension will allow us to increase production of our current value-added goods (such as smoked bacon, hams, and summer sausage), as well as allowing our value-added butcher, Adam, more tools and space to develop additional ready-to-eat products.
Growth is hard, and often scary for the risk averse, but it’s incredibly exciting! It’s been awesome to see This Old Farm grow from a hobby farm that fed only a handful of families, to a processor that could aid farmers in providing meat to their customers, to a complete food hub bringing together all pieces of the supply chain from the farmer to the consumer to share the fruits (and veggies) of good food!