Gearing up for 2008

February 9, 2008

It has always amazed me how easy it is to sell grassfed beef. Many – if not all – of our customers found us before we found them. It is rare that we have to tell them about the benefits of grassfed beef, because they’re already informed eaters who understand terms like “linoleic acid” and “Omega-3s.” The only advertising we do is in our local church bulletin, a small business-card sized ad that we took out as much to support the parish as to advertise our beef. We’re considering buying an ad in the 2008 “Buy Fresh Buy Local” guide, published by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, but that would be a first.

The beauty of a local food system is that it is sustainable. We are not dependent on far flung customers who have no attachment to our “brand.” They know where we are and who we are. Many have visited the ranch and joined us on annual field days. We can adjust our business model quickly, if we need to. For example, four years ago when the USDA ruled that all animals over the age of three needed to be processed in a USDA-inspected plant, we had to move quickly to find an alternative butcher (our original butcher, Freedom Meat Lockers, is state-inspected and we still use them for younger animals.) We immediately reached out and made contact with Johansen’s, a family-owned, USDA-inspected butcher in Orland, which we have been using ever since. The distance (about 250 miles north of us) proved to be a hurdle at first, but we adjusted our model to make deliveries from Sacramento to San Jose on our way home – increasing sales and adding convenience for our Bay Area customers.

As the orders start coming in for 2008, I admit that I get a little anxious thinking of the work ahead. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in assigning portions, invoicing, scheduling deliveries, and tending to individual customers. The logistics can be overwhelming if you don’t tackle each task at a time. I am grateful for our loyal customers. They understand the nature of buying not just from from a “family farm” but from a “family run farm.”  They’re okay with a day or two before we’re back in the office returning phone calls and they are more than willing to meet us half way with pick-ups and deliveries. We are excited about 2008: it’s turned out to be a perfect grass year with well-timed rain and sunshine. We’ve also teamed up with several, enthusiastic local food distributors who will hopefully help us with the logistics and increase sales. It’s an exciting time for the local food movement. It feels like we’re at the beginning of something big, as Californians become more aware of how their food is produced and where it comes from. If you haven’t placed your 2008 order yet, you can download an order form from our website: www.morrisgrassfed.com. Hurry up, we’re going to sell out!

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