Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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How to Buy Meat at Your Local Farmers Market

Picture Farmers markets are exploding on the scene across the United States. That means more vendors looking for ways to leverage the "eat local" movement even if their meats aren't local or even from a small farm.

A quick look at a listing of farmers markets in my state shows several meat processing plants listed as vendors. I'm not trying to infer that they shouldn't be allowed to participate in farmers markets. I am saying, as with any vendor you purchase from, you should engage in a conversation about where the animals are raised and how they are raised.

For instance the statement of "all our meats are locally raised" could simply mean somewhere in the state.

Some good questions to ask any meat vendor:

Do you raise the livestock yourself?

If not, do you know the farmer who did?

Do you purchase animals from sale barns to slaughter?

How confident are you that your meats are hormone and antibiotic free?

For beef - Is this 100% grass fed and finished or has it been fed grain?


These are the type of questions any farmer who raises livestock will be happy to answer. In fact most welcome these types of questions because it shows that you are looking for a certain style of animal husbandry and methods of production.

My point in all this is not to build a case about dishonest vendors.

My point is don't assume that because you are standing at farmers market every product there is locally raised by a small farmer. Ask questions.

The demand for locally farm raised beef, pork, and chicken as well as other meats such as lamb, goat, rabbits etc is on the rise. That means meat vendors of every stripe are looking for ways to gain access to farmers markets.

Some markets will allow them to sell their products and some won't.

Make sure you know what you're getting.


Until next time...
Spring Hill Farms
 
 

Can I Glue Your Steak Please

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Glue Your Steak Together!
Just when you thought that the gigantic meat packers were "walking the straight and narrow" over the pink slime controversy, now we discover your steak just might be glued together out of several different pieces of meat.

California senator Ted W. Lieu has called for an investigation into the practice of using meat glue to patch pieces of meat together to make one piece. Officially, it’s known as transglutaminase, an enzyme in powder form that brings protein closer together – permanently.

What will be next?

For me the take away from all these "new discoveries" is it seems the foundational belief of big meat packers and Big Ag is this:

How can we do this cheaper first and foremost then we'll look at safety, quality, and all the other parameters.

I am all for reducing costs and making your business profitable. But let me know the ways you accomplish that and let me make the decision as to whether I want to do business with you.

No I'm not talking about supplying your customers with a business plan.

I'm talking about good old fashioned honesty and hey here's an idea; How about putting on the label what you've done to product.

I don't know about you but If I picked up a steak and said it contained transglutaminase you can bet I'd be Googling up what the heck it was and why is it in my steak!

You know it won't say on the label "we glued this piece of meat together."

Don't worry though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems it to be safe – “generally.”

We don't glue anything together here at Spring Hill Farms. Heck we use baler twine more than anything around here to make several pieces of something into one. You would notice that on your steak...just sayin'

Until next time....

 


 

 
 

Farmers - Retailer or Direct Marketer?

The mind set with which you approach your small farm sales is critical to your success. If you approach selling direct from the farm as a traditional retail operation it will require a completely different set of parameters to operate by than if you approach your business as a direct marketing endeavor.

I’ll confess right up front I am biased towards direct marketing. I posted a while back as to why I don’t sell at farmer’s markets.

To me they encapsulate the retail mindset of selling farm products. You set up and essentially wait for customers to show up to buy.

I realize that farmers can do very well at these type of venues, but I see a huge amount of risk and loss of control. Take for example the farmer’s market closes up shop. Where do all the customers go? How many of them do you have a way to contact? Do you have a relationship outside the market with them? If you answered “no” to any of those questions you will take a big hit if that ever happens. Risky and not much control over what happens I say!

Contrast that with direct marketing of your farm products. You have a large diverse group of people that you actively initiated a relationship with.

Wouldn’t you rather have a large group of  customers that isn’t dependent on them getting out of bed and coming down to see you at the market?

I contend that in some ways we are training the customers who want to buy off the farm to remain in the retail mindset by how we market to them.

One of the most common questions I get is customers trying to figure out the system by which I sell products! They ask about my attendance at local farmer’s markets then about coming to the farm to purchase.

They are in the common retail mindset. I understand why. It’s the most common way to buy food. Once they experience how we market, they love it!

We encourage folks to come to the farm and visit, but discourage them from thinking it how we sell products. Farm gate sales are fine, but just as with the farmer’s market you are waiting on someone to come by and spend money.

I would have never grown my sales to level that they are so quickly by waiting on someone to stop by the farm or a farmer’s market!

That’s the retail mindset.

In speaking with farmers I think the main reason they gravitate to this type of marketing is because it’s what they know to do.

Let’s face it…the question on every bodies mind is:

Where can I find customers in significant numbers without using these venues?

Good question!

Since I have never sold at traditional farm venues I can only tell you how I’ve built my business. These steps are simple, but not always easy.

Figure out what your U.S.P. is. That’s your unique selling proposition. Why should people buy from you? Do this first. It helps you focus your efforts where they make the most impact.

Connect with I call “people of influence” to try your products. This was the second step I took when I started selling direct.

Create a system to glean referrals from your current customers. A high percentage of my new customers are from word of mouth advertisers – the best, least expensive, kind of advertising.

Have a system in place to get testimonies from your current customers and incorporate them in your materials.

Consistently use a system to identify and obtain new customers. I adapted a method from another business I owned that works like magic.

Find ways to make it easy for your customers to pay you. I collect payments automatically which makes it much easier for me and the customer to do business with my farm.

Develop a website and learn to drive traffic to it. This took tons of time and learning, but I now have a significant amount of internet customers. (a whole subject in itself -more on that another day.)

These are some of things I have done to build my farm business. I’ve never used a farmer’s market or had a wholesale account because I haven’t needed to! I believe farmer’s markets are a viable way to market your products and some of these techniques would work for them. For me, I like spending time with my family on Saturday morning.

 

Until next time…

PS- I explain exactly how to do this and more (minus the website information) in my latest ebook “The Secrets of Selling Your Farm Products Revealed.” If you’re looking for increased sales and more customers click here to get your copy today.



 
 

Learning to See Your Farm as Others See It

Probably one of the most important skills you can develop in your farm business and actually in life, is the ability to see things from other people’s perspective.

This is the key to obtaining new clients, keeping present customers happy, and helping others get what they want out of your farm business. All the interactions you have with customers, or potential customers, can be improved by striving to put yourself in their shoes... [More]

 


 

 

 


Small Farm Direct Marketing

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Small Farm Direct Marketing Community

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Tamworth Sow
Farmers, have you noticed there isn't much out there about marketing products directly from your farm? I see discussions about it sporadically in various forums and blogs I subscribe to, but over-all you can't get much "how-to" information.

I recently started a blog centered around this topic. I will be posting regularly on the things I have learned and implemented since we started marketing our pork, chicken, eggs and beef direct in 2004.

I also started a Facebook page that will feature even more two-way communication between small farmers for the purpose of learning and growing their farm or produce business.

I've been helping small farmers succeed through teaching them what I know, or bringing them on as co-operative producers to help us fill our customer orders for several years now.

So if it makes sense to you, and you operate a small, (non-industrial) livestock or vegetable farm. Come over and join in. Together we can make local, sustainable farming a force to be reckoned with!

Come over and join us!

 

 

 

Small Farm Direct Marketing

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Freedom Ranger Chickens as Laying Hens

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Freedom Ranger Laying Hens
In August we were pulling broilers from one of our movable pens on pasture in the pouring down rain. Two pullets ended up escaping into the nearby brush.

Since I wasn't really in the mood to chase two fugitives in the middle of a downpour, we let them go thinking "they will be lucky to make through the night."

The next day dawned bright and sunny. By mid afternoon I hadn't seen hide nor hair of them errr, hide nor feather of them so I assumed a fox or some other varmint had scored a midnight meal at my expense.

The Mrs. wasn't happy about it but what can you do? I asked. Besides they were going to be dead anyway.

The second day to my surprise one of them showed up at the edge of the trees! So one of them did make it. I watched to see if the other would show and after an our or so and only one chicken I thought well one of them didn't make it and tonight will be the end of this one.

The next day they both were out in the grass pecking around in the grass. Wow wrong again, better give'em some feed and water and see if I can get close enough in the next couple of days to catch them...if they make it that long.

I wasn't taking into account that these birds are from heritage breed genetics. These aren't the Cornish cross birds we used to raise. These suckers roosted that night in an old stump about six feet off the ground at the edge of the field.

Hmm they just might be around awhile as I start to catch on. (it takes me awhile sometimes) I mentioned to the Mrs. the birds were still here and showed her out the kitchen window where they had perched at dusk. She looked out and saw them and promptly announced "then they're staying here since they made it this far."

Any of you who know my wife outside of gracious host when you come to visit the farm, know when she lays down a decree it will be that way or else!

After a couple of weeks they got more comfortable and began to venture up to the barn and the front porch and anywhere else they felt like going. And as if by some built in knowing they always made it a point to come see the Mrs. anytime she was outside and even began running up to her car when she pulled in the driveway like she was their long lost mother!

Trying to justify keeping them verses admitting I had to keep them per the Mrs. I began to wonder if they would make layers. Sure enough at about 17 weeks (I kept track of the time) they began to go into the goats pen in the corner and lay their eggs.

They are almost 100% on an egg a day... not bad for birds that are designed to be meat chickens. I've even started making sure the "girls", as the Mrs. calls them, have a bit of feed since the weather is turning cold.

If you're wondering if Freedom Rangers will make decent layers I say yes they will!

I eat two medium brown eggs for breakfast every morning and remember how two pullets escaped on a rainy day in August. 

till next time!
 
 

Most Antibiotics in the US Used for Farm Animals

As much as 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U. S. are fed to chickens, cattle and hogs — not to treat disease but to make them grow faster. This increases profit margins for livestock producers, but it puts YOUR health at risk.

 

Read the article here

 
 
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