Shhh, do you hear that? No, I don’t either. It is completely silent the day after Thanksgiving. No drivers on the road, no farmers in the fields, no busy hands and feet in the warehouse. Over the years, our mission has grown so much that we now have someone working to bring you better food 7 days a week. Some days we run 22 hours a day to keep you supplied with freshness. But today it is all at peace. Resting.
A good time for some honest reflection as I sit with a cup of coffee beside a mountain of red and green Coleman coolers. I think we could film a horror movie in our warehouse sometimes as these towers of empty (soon to be full) coolers stare at you. I am sure that if I stayed here too long today I might start acting like I was in The Shining. All work and no play makes Farmer M a dull boy.
But my thoughts have not been on horror movies this week; I have instead been thinking about the past and the future of the work that we do on a daily/weekly basis. Give me a couple of minutes here and let me share some things with you please.
Recently we posted a couple of things on our Facebook page giving folks a heads up about some new products that we have added to the party. Pies, kimchi, and kombucha to be precise. Soon after those posts, a pretty cool thing started to happen—folks were getting excited. Seeing these responses and reading the emotion behind it got me smiling and thinking.
I began to realize more and more that with addition of these artisan suppliers to our table, the depth of our service becomes extremely profound. And it is very unique I think, even though we do not act in ways to be unique. Let me explain.
A grocery store has to act like a grocery store in the fact that it cannot just offer 1 bakery’s bread, for example. The store believes that it must offer many choices of breads to fill the demands of the customers. In that relationship, there is very little skill or anything special that the store provides. The store, at that point, just offers “stuff” that it wants you to buy.
But what if we change the perspective of what it means to offer food to you and your family. What if we see ourselves not merely as purchasers but as curators of amazing foods. To me a curator favors quality over quantity, and is extremely discerning in what she/he adds to the mix. Does the addition of a product make sense? Does it fit and fulfill our mission? These are the questions that I see our crew asking. And this is the direction that I am excited to see the farm follow.
I have been integrally involved with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms for the past 17 years of my life. I have loved this style of marketing and of support that CSAs offer. But up until recently, I have always seen the Community part of the CSA as the consumers. What I am witnessing firsthand and seeing through the sales of our new producers is that the community is on the supplier side of things as well. That the ultimate vision for a healthy food system is a community of suppliers feeding a community of hungry mouths. And this is very different than any grocery.
Some grocers sell local products, but they are in a sea of national and international products. So the uniqueness of these local producers get drowned out by all of the other products.
We are not a typical grocer. So we can offer local milk, fresh pasta, coffee, cheese, breads, etc. etc. that get to stand by themselves in our market. No diluting local suppliers against a flood of national brands. And I think that we will see two things emerge as we fine-tune and grow this business model.
First is that it just feels right. We are a small farm and so partnering up with other small producers feels right because we all know what one another is facing in this competitive food landscape. We need all the help we can get.
Second is that this commitment to local producers becomes a very tangible value to you as a consumer. Too many stores right now are selling the exact same thing as their competitor, no differentiation. I don’t want to offer you the same ole stuff. We want to bring you something special and from someone who we are proud to call a partner. And that is a mission worth working for 7 days a week. Farmer Monte