Providing Great Service in a Pandemic with Trevor Hoff, Local Homestead Products

Listen to Trevor's episode here or find us on your favorite podcast listening app!
 

Meaghan:Trevor Hoff Local Homestead Products

Welcome to the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast. I'm your host, Meaghan Malinowski content and digital strategist at MidAtlantic Farm Credit. Today's guest is one of my favorite stories. Trevor Hoff owns and operates Local Homestead Product's farm market in New Windsor, Maryland with his wife, Victoria. I could spend a couple hours telling you about their hydroponic greenhouses, fresh produce, homegrown lines of meats, or even the countless number of events that they host on their farm each year. But it really just wouldn't do their story justice, not to mention Trevor is much funnier than I am, so he’s much better at telling the story. But this year in 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic started back in March, they ramped up their operation to be ready to serve their customers, even in the most unexpected of ways. This interview is going to talk about some of the changes they made, some of the innovations they had and where those ideas came from. Without further ado, here's my interview with Trevor Hoff.

Let's go ahead and jump right in. Welcome to the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast.

Trevor, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your operation and even where you got started?

Trevor:

We come from New Windsor, Maryland right here in Carroll County. We're kind of the heart of Maryland here. We have a little bit of everything and we're definitely the rolling hills here. We own and have two farms here totaling, just over 200 acres where we grow, produce and raise beef cattle, chickens and pigs. But the main focus of our farm is our on-farm market. Now, we didn't start with an on-farm market, I actually started selling beef jerky in high school to some of my teachers and other students from cattle we raised here on the farm. So that morphed into the thought of having a store once I graduated high school. And then that turned into a bigger thought of, well, we can't just have beef jerky, we need to have other items. And now we sell for, my gosh, it must be 50, 60, 70 different farms, just right now up and down the coast. Also having a greenhouse with all kinds of flowers and vegetable plants. We also grow hydroponically. My wife grows hydroponic lettuce there, so we do a little bit of everything and that's what makes our farm kinda neat.

Meaghan:

 I've had a blast watching you guys on Facebook and social media. You guys look like you're pretty busy with everything going on.

Trevor:

We are extremely busy with everything going on. You know, we were not expecting this. Victoria and I sat down and talked right when this started, when it started to happen. And I said, yeah, I think it's going to be busy for a little bit. Then I think the real slow down is going to happen. And the first week we were very busy and we thought, now it's going to slow down. Then the second week it was busier. The third weekend was busier. About the fifth or six week after me telling my employees that it's going to slow down, they told me to stop saying that because every time I said it would slow down, it got busier. And I think a lot of that is just because we reacted the way people wanted us to react. We got ahead of the game before the grocery stores did and we were able to keep things pretty well stocked.

I contribute that to being able to work with small farms, local farms, local butcher shops, sending our animals out to these butcher shops to get processed, you know, that smaller food chain didn't get interrupted as much as the big one did. And so that kind of helped us. And really, I think our company has grown and our farm has grown due to the fact that we were able to keep things stocked. So I think a lot of customers that have kind of lost faith in the grocery stores to have things stocked are going to rely more on that small farm market in the local community. And I'm hearing this across the board from a lot of my friends in the industry, a lot of the people around that we know are saying the same thing that the farms are really busy.

Meaghan:

Well, you took my first question away from me and you knocked it out of the park. That was really what I wanted to touch on first was what some of your thoughts were when it came to running the market during the pandemic.

Were you guys nervous? Were you scared at first?

I think it's a true blessing that that it's been so busy and you've been able to kind of look back on that and say, you know, I have been wrong for the last five weeks saying it's going to slow down.

What was that initial thought when the pandemic kind of started and you guys were thinking about the market? What were those first conversations looking like?

Trevor:

Well, the first week before the governor really started touching base, we started seeing a couple of weeks where it was like, huh, it seems like it's getting a little busier and nobody was really talking about it. But the moment that it started becoming national news, we started seeing that really big uptick. And the first week that we really noticed something going on, was we had a line in the store that wrapped around the whole store and nobody could shop because nobody could get through our store because our store is very small. You see our Facebook posts and you see some of the pictures of the greenhouse and outside, and it seems like, wow, they must have a really big place. And Meaghan you've been there. It's not a big place at all. We just are a little farm with that moves a lot of product.

And so to get that working, we made the decision when they said, “hey, we shouldn't have more than 10 people in groups,” we were like, okay, that's what we'll do. We started limiting right then and there probably about three or four weeks before the grocery store limited people, to 10 people in our store at any given time. And we are still what's it been eight or 12 weeks from doing that, and we're still limiting and still having lines. And I really appreciate the customer base that we have for understanding that we have a small store. We're not a big grocery store that can accept 250 people at any given time. And they just stand out in a line. And, you know, what's funny is sometimes, it’s not weather dependent on whether they're going to stand in line or not.

Mother's day weekend, our Friday, Saturday were the days where the weather wasn't that great. Friday was wind, cold and rainy and that was our busiest day. And we had 150 people waiting in line when we opened the doors. Sunday mother's day was beautiful. The sun was shining and there weren't any lines at all. And I think a lot of that has to do with the mentality of we're staying away from that place when it's really nice out, because it's going to be so busy. Well, when everybody thinks that and goes to the other days, well, then it makes the nice day actually nice to come out.

Meaghan:

Yeah, 100%. I know  I remember coming out and shooting that testimonial video with you guys. And I think if I remember correctly, 10 seems like almost full capacity for the market. And I'm, I was shocked that you guys are able to offer such a wide variety of stuff in such a small place, but like you said, you guys offer a lot of different things. And I think it's, it's been cool for me to see from even just from on Facebook. Cause you know, I'm, I'm a couple of hours away from you, but seeing the response by your community has been so inspiring. And that kind of brings me to my next question and feel free to deflect if you don't want to give me all the juicy details, but you know, everybody has started operating differently from grocery stores to other farm markets and it's really just to keep their heads above water.

How has that affected your operation? Are you seeing an increase in sales from last year?

Trevor:

We are definitely seeing an increase in sales. And I think, like I said before, a lot of that has to do with the fact that we responded so quickly and we were on top of it. I think if you got behind the eight ball here on this, people were really looking for somewhere to shop right away. Somewhere where they felt safe, somewhere where they felt wanted. And if you didn't offer that right away, offer a safe place for them to shop, they kind of looked past you. And I think a lot of these people opening back up will still be very busy, but I think they missed that first wave of panic buying.

 I mean, we had people buying loads of stuff to the point where we had to start limiting how much we were allowing go out of our store. I am never been one to want to limit anything. I'm always the one that says, Hey, come buy more. And I was having to limit how many eggs people could buy and how many pounds of ground beef people could buy, because we just couldn't keep up. And I would tell customers that it's not that I wanted to limit things. It's the fact that if we limit to this amount, we can supply everybody that wants to come in the doors. But if we have people that come in and buy 50 or a hundred pounds of ground beef to throw in their freezer, well, then we start having issues keeping up with supply. So for us, yes, business is good. And I can tell you that I didn't think it was going to be that way when this all started. I thought we were going to be busy and then I thought it would taper off very quickly and it just has not done that.

We are definitely up from last year. And I'm hoping for a solid season the rest of the year, because that is a concern that everybody is sharing and all this is that if we are so busy now, does that mean we're going to have a really sharp turn come summertime? Because usually there is that summer slowdown for us when everybody else kind of opens back up with their farm markets and their town or their towns have farm markets or their gardens start producing. And it usually slows up a little bit in the summertime for us. And we're thinking that that's not going to be as much this year, that hopefully it continues to stay steady. And hopefully that means good things for the farm.

Meaghan:

Absolutely, I mean sitting here talking to you, I didn't really think about it much before, but I don't have many markets that are in my immediate area. And I think that a lot of people are looking for an excuse to get out of the house right now. I have done my fair share of garden center shopping and things like that. And there's something about going and buying a ton of plants and bringing them home and then just waiting to be able to put them in the ground. But that's kind of been like my silver lining for this. And I think for a lot of people being able to go somewhere where they feel comfortable and people are friendly and nice, I think that's probably part of the reason why you guys have been so successful too. I think people probably feel good about coming to see you.

Trevor:

And I, I think you, you bring up a great point about the plants and all that because people are having to stay home. People want their house to look good. And here's the strange reality is the fact that they don't have that vacation that they are going to be spending the money on so, or they might not. And their thought is that they might not that vacation, and they're not going out to eat as much. And they're not spending as much as the gas pump because gas prices are cheap and because they're not driving as much. So all those things add up to a little bit more money in their pocket, even though some of them might be laid off work right at the moment. So all they're saying is make it so that, you know, our worries about having a full greenhouse and knowing where to go with the plants in the beginning of all, this have really changed.

And we were really concerned about how many hanging baskets we had because we grow hanging baskets ourselves. And we also sell for a couple other farms that grow, that don't have retail establishments. And I was calling those guys in the beginning, kind of telling them, we're going to try our best to move your product, but we might have to cut back and I don't know what we're going to do with all of it. And then we actually sold it out quicker than we ever have. And we're having to bring on more farms to try to have more flowers, have more veggie plants. Most of the garden centers in our area or are out of vegetable plants, and we still had tomatoes and peppers left and they were actually sending them to us because we were the only ones with them anymore. So it's really been a boom in that.

And I think a lot of that is also for the small guys that are in my kind of business that a lot of customers didn't know we were there. In the life that we have now in 2020 you get so used to driving to work, shopping at the same places that you shop in and just going with the routine. And this has really made you get out of your routine, check around your surrounding area and buy stuff. I mean, I usually would never take notice of the license plates that are in my farm market parking lot. But the past couple of weeks I've been looking around and I've noticed Virginia license plates, West Virginia license plates, Pennsylvania license plates. And, you know, I got to talking to some of these people and I had people that were two and a half hours away from their home. But like you said, they just wanted something to do.

Meaghan:

That’s amazing!

Trevor:

So they drove two and a half hours to a farm market that they saw on Facebook and came up and bought some plants and some produce.

Meaghan:

And then took them home like a little plant road trip.

Trevor:

Exactly, So, you know, it amazes me how far people will travel for this. And I think we take it for granted the way, the way we think people should be treated because they're not in the big box stores. You know, for us treating people the way we treat them is because that's the way we were raised. This is the way we treat people, because that's how we would want to be treated. And in the box stores, that's not the case. They're looking to get you in and get you out. And that I think is another selling point of why you want to shop local, why you want to know your farmer. And I have people that come in that I know their kids. I know what sports they play. I know the kids that have gotten married and who are going to have babies. You know, we have multi-generations shopping in our store. So those are the kinds of things that Safeway or all these other grocery stores don't know. And the thing is, if you don't shop at that grocery store chain that week, they most likely won't notice it, but a small farm market like ours or any of these other guys, you know, we notice when you shop with us or when you don't. And it definitely helps when you shop local and shop small with the small farm.

Meaghan:

I know we talked a little bit about when everything first started coming out and all of the different stay at home orders and the limitations on how many people could be here, there, or whatever that looks like.

Outside of putting that limit on how many people are in the store or waiting in the line around the outside of the market:

Have you guys started any new processes to help keep things running?  Do you foresee any of them sticking around once we get into our new normal?

Trevor:

The simple answer to that is yes, we are looking at some things that we had sworn we would never do because we didn't want to lose that touch with the customer. And this has really opened up our eyes to think, well, maybe this is what we need to do. We had decided that, we didn't want to do online sales as much. That was not our thing. We wanted people to come experience the farm. Well, this has kind of pushed us in the direction of some online sales. Now we are not a farm that has everything online. And I don't think we ever will with probably 500 to a thousand different items in our store, you know, that's not where we're headed.

Meaghan:

It would be hard to manage that inventory level.

Trevor:

Exactly. But what we are seeing is people wanted a curbside option and we said, no, that's not something we can do. But then we got to thinking outside the box a little bit, and we came up with what we call our essential farm pack. And it's a hundred dollars. Every week you can sign up on Monday and pick it up the following Monday. And what it is, is our farm is actually closed on Mondays and Thursdays to clean and get shipments in and that kind of thing. So we had this day on Monday that we were able to bring people out to the farm, keep them in their cars, put the stuff in their cars for them, and it already be paid for, and a whole lot less touching, a whole lot less interaction. And folks have really been loving that. It really ramped up during the first month and a half. Now we're starting to see it plateau a little bit, but this is something that I don't think we're going to get away from anytime soon. I think people like the fact that they're able to come with in their car, especially families with kids, as we try to say, hey, just send your essential shopper in. Well, if you have young kids, you might not be able to let them sit in the car or maybe somebody is working and you have to take the kids with you. We get that right. And that's why this has really taken off. And, you know, it's, it's got a glass bottle milk in there, usually a dozen eggs, loaf of bread, all kinds of produce, all kinds of meats, some different baked goods from our bakery or from a couple bakeries that we work with. So it's a little bit of a different concept, but it really, really works.

And I think that's really helped us out. The other thing is that a lot of these farms started doing what we call a produce bundle, and we have always sold produce bundles. We, we don't want to say we started them, but we had them a long time before they became cool during the COVID-19 issue. But we've had produced bundles for four or five years now. And we do a $25 produce bundle every week of the year, where we work with farms all up and down the East coast and put together this value pack for $25. And that has really taken off to, as people were worried about their income trying to make sure they were spending their money wisely, that really helped them with that. And I think that that side of the business has just increased because of all this. And I don't think it's going to back off and have that summer slump, like we've always felt.

Meaghan:

Well. You know, what I really like hearing from you is that, I think obviously you guys have to do what you need to do to stay in business and keep making those sales. But for you guys, it seems like it always comes back to what does the customer need? What do they want and how can we give it to them in a way that makes them happy? And I think you guys are, I mean, you've got to be excelling at it every time I see another post, you guys are selling out of your produce bundles and really just, you look like you're blowing it out of the water. You guys were the OG produce bundle.

Trevor:

Well, you know, we just try to do what we would want done to us. And I think that's, that's the big thing. And for us these other folks that don't want to do what the customer wants, it amazes me that they're still in business because I see that sometimes where it's, they just want to make it harder for people to shop with them. And we have to make it easier to shop with us. I mean, you've been to our store, you've seen how out in the middle of nowhere we are, and we have to make it easy to shop. We have to make it a convenience buy for them to come out to the farm and buy everything that they need on their list so that they're not going here, there, and everywhere. They want to come to the farm and buy everything. And you can do that.

You can get your glass bottled milk from South Mountain Creamery at our farm. You can get our eggs, you can get produce from a bunch of different local farms. You can get chips that are made in Pennsylvania fried in true lard, ice cream, mean everything under the sun, you can get right there at that little farm market. And the comment that I always hear from people is I've driven past this place a hundred times, and I would have never thought you carried this much in this little building. And that's the true story. I mean, we really jam pack it in there.

Meaghan:

You do! And my other question for you, was so you guys have always, collaborated with other growers and different producers and stuff like that.

So how does [grower collaboration] work? Do you reach out to them? Do they call you? How did that kind of change with like COVID-19?

Trevor:

So it's a little bit of both. If we see a product that we just fall head over heels with, well, then we know that our customers will too, and we reach out. But sometimes we have farms that just call us and say, hey, we are starting to grow this, we'd really like to sell it at your store. And we're always open to that conversation because as we grow, we need more farms growing for us. We can't grow enough and to touch base on that side of the business. You know, I never wanted to be the person that grew everything because I don't believe you can and do it well. I believe that you can do one, two or three things really well. And then if you start doing a hundred different things, it starts to suffer. And I find that there are a couple of things that we grow really, really well.

And there's a couple of things that I just lack luster in growing. But I usually know the person that grows the best of it, and that's, that's the person we want to get from. So I really think that's the way we head with things is a more specialized kind of deal where you can have a better product that way.

 Now back to the COVID thing, is the thing that I noticed the most with going into quarantine and all that was just the supply could not keep up with the demand. And that's the plain and simple fact of it. And you started seeing it the first couple of weeks, as they, as shelves got bare at grocery stores. They started to feel bare at our store, but we were able to call these different local farms and say, hey, we need more of this or more of that.

And we were able to talk to our butcher shops and get more appointments lined up and get this really working right ahead of the schedule here. But still with all this and everybody working behind the scenes we still had some bare shelves every once in a while. We still had some things sell out quicker than what we thought and weren't able to get them picked quick enough, or weren't able to fill the shelf back up as quick on ground beef or something like that. And I always tell people that come into our store to shop is that you kind of have to come with a fluid list, a list of the stuff that you want, but be fluid in the fact that you might not be able to get that porterhouse steak, but there might be a T bone there. And you might not get the exact Apple variety you want, but usually we'll have some kind of Apple there.

So, you know, we're not competing with the grocery stores on having every item there all the time. But what we try to compete with them and I know we can compete with them this way is having the best of the best there all the time. And that's where we strive. And this week we had a beautiful, local strawberries come in and what would have lasted me two weeks, any other year, we sold in one day. So it's just, that's a testament into the fact that people are coming, people are buying. I think people are maybe making some jams and that kind of stuff.

Meaghan:

Trying new things.

Trevor:

Trying new things getting on Pinterest and trying it out, you know,

Meaghan:

Letting their mind run a little wild.

Trevor:

That's right. Trying different things and just going to town with it. And that's the fun thing about this. And the fun thing about shopping at our farm is you can try different things. The produce bundle kind of allows you to do that. We had we had kohlrabi in there a couple of weeks ago and you know, not many people know what kohlrabi is. And I explained it as a German turnip almost but a really, really great vegetable. And we have it in purple and green, but not that many people know it exists, let alone know how to use it.

Meaghan:

Trevor, did you listen to my podcast episode?

Trevor:

I did not.

Meaghan:

I literally came up with that. Jenny and I were talking about producing content and I was trying to give people an idea of what kinds of content they could write for their website or for Facebook or whatever it is. And in all of my research. And I can tell you, I've never been to a grocery store where I've seen kohlrabi on the shelves, but I can't tell you how many CSA’s have it, obviously around here. And so I brought that up on our episode and I was like, I don't even know if I'm saying it right.

What does it taste like though? Tell me, honestly, what does kohlrabi actually taste like?

Trevor:

Absolutely nothing. And that's, so I tell people that kohlrabi tastes like absolutely nothing and everything all at the same time, because you can make kohlrabi tastes like whatever you want it to.

Meaghan:

It’s a wonder vegetable.

Trevor:

Yes. Whatever seasoning you want to throw at it, you can make it work. So yeah, I can't say that I am a huge fan of kohlrabi. I will eat it raw every now and then, but yeah, it's something that all the CSA’s grow. Of course I don't call myself a CSA because I don't want to get into the act of you buying something from me every week without knowing what is in it. I just like the mindset that you get to choose, whether you want my produce bundle or not. And you get to look at what's in it before you have to make that choice with your money.

Meaghan:

I like that approach. I think that's unique there. I mean, there's definitely the pros and cons to each way. right. But I think you're, you're giving the customer the option to make the decision at the time rather than is it six, nine months ahead of time.

Trevor:

Yeah. And, and, you know, I will say that it does not happen overnight that you're able to do that. And it is a little scary of a concept because your numbers fluctuate so much that you have to have a pretty good store to back it up, to be able to move some of that product, if your produce bundles die off a little bit to do it. Whereas a traditional CSA, you know how much to grow every week because of how well or how many CSA shares you sell. And I personally think it's a wonderful program to start a farm and run a farm off of, because you get a set income that you know, you'll be having. And it makes total sense. But for us, I wanted to give a different option and touching back on that idea that we wanted to give customers what they want.

Meaghan:

Speaking of options, you guys just started doing are you guys doing take home meal kits or is it meal kits that you give all the ingredients to?

Trevor:

So we have we don't have a take home meal kit for produce, but we do have a take home meal from another bakery. They make it and put it in a container and you can heat it up. But the take home meal kits are definitely a big thing that are popping up in the industry that I think are going to really take off because people have not been for the last five or 10 years, people have not been eating at home and you now have a generation of people that don't know how to cook for themselves. They grab a bite to eat on the way home from work because they work till eight, nine o'clock at night in the office building, or what have you, and don't have time to cook on their way home or once they get home. So, or you have people like my, my wife and I that, you know, it's two of us, it's hard to cook a meal for two people which you probably know.

Meaghan:

It is. A lot of left overs.

Trevor:

Exactly.  So when you divvy that kind of meal out like some of these other farms are doing, it makes total sense because you're able to do that and able to compete against the meal service companies that have been shipping food to people's homes. And I think it's a great concept and it's, it's definitely taking off. And the thing that I will say, that's good, that's coming out of this is it's made some of us local guys in small farms, especially in MidAtlantic Farm Credit area and footprint really figure out how to sell their product differently without our big farm markets thriving in the cities, without the restaurant service that takes a lot of the local products as well. We have to find a way to move them and it has made us come up with some great ideas and I've seen some great things come out of it different farms just for having to figure this out. And I think if anything, good comes out of it, hopefully it's the good thought that people know that the local farms are there and they're able to get stuff from them. And hopefully that continues after all this is done, that people don't forget the local farms that were there for them.

Meaghan:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that is definitely something that's going to come out of this. I also think that the idea on the producer side to the innovation, like you said, and how people are diversifying to make things work and find new ways to be able to sell their product, whether it's to consumer or you know, outside of that realm. And it seems like you and Victoria have really made a habit of pivoting and adding new things to the lineup. And you guys are always trying something new, which makes me think that you guys are really comfortable with change, which is not something that most people can say.

Would you say that you guys are pretty comfortable with change?

Trevor:

I, myself am not (laughs).

Meaghan:

No way.

Trevor:

Victoria is.  I could get stuck in a rut and Victoria sometimes says that I could figure out, what three meals, I want for the rest of my life and eat the same three meals every day for the rest of my life. And I'd probably be fine with that. And that is a hundred percent true.  I would be fine with that, but at the same point in time, it’s a little different because yes, I am not a huge fan of change, but I do get bored a little bit sometimes with doing the same thing over again on the business side of it. So, she and I have a lot of discussions and she is definitely the leading force with a lot of stuff, especially Facebook and marketing. And I know you had told me you're going to talk to her about a podcast at some point in time.

But she is, she is the one behind the scenes making this all work. And she has some phenomenal ideas on how to keep changing and how to keep pivoting because we know customers get bored with stuff. For example, we had these maple sticky buns when all this COVID-19 stuff started happening, one of our bakeries said, hey, we're coming out with this. And this was before that and it just happened to be right around the same time that this all happened. So with everything going and we were like, yes, send in a couple cases, and well those couple of cases sold.

Meaghan:

Probably immediately if I had to guess.

Trevor:

Exactly. And then, okay, send in, send in double that amount. And then at the peak of this, we were buying in a pallet a week or a pallet twice a week of maple sticky bonds from this bakery, a whole pallet of it.

Meaghan:

I'm not going to lie, if somebody showed up to my house with a palette of maple sticky buns and they said, did you order this? I would lie straight through my teeth. I would say you bet, sure did, bring it in.

Trevor:

But you know, as fast as it came on that we were selling that many people get their fill of it and people want to try something different. So you start seeing that decrease and then it starts to level out and plateau as, as the best word for it in the, where the sales of that item should be. So to keep up with everything, you have to be bringing on that next new product, that next new big thing. And sometimes it's hard to keep on doing that. I, I sometimes wake up and I'm like, we're just tired.

Meaghan:

Yeah, they're keeping you on your toes.

Trevor:

And you know, I, I think Victoria is, is better with change than I am to touch back to your original question. But you know, for me, I think change in the business or at the farm market, you know, is not that big of a deal for me, but change in my regular life, that's a whole different story.

Meaghan:

Oh, sure, sure. Absolutely. Well, coming from somebody who's not a huge fan of change,

what advice would you give to an another operator looking to diversify or add something new or try something new?

Trevor:

I've learned that you just have to keep trying. If I would have stopped when I should have, when all the numbers, all the people you know, I used to hear from through the grape vine, I'll call it through the grapevine, I'd hear, you know, they're never going to make it there. And, you know, they had some points in time, I thought they were right. Our little farm market probably as a business, if you ever looked at it from a business degree, you would have looked and said, you know what, this makes no sense to be open. The first couple of years it probably didn't, but we kept trying, we kept reinventing the wheel until the wheel worked. And you have to find which one works for you. And I see on Facebook and on Instagram and all these different places and through emails of farmer's markets, doing different things and I think you knew that might work at our farm.

But for me, it's more of a thing that you have to kind of pave your own path and sometimes produce bundles, like for me work really well, but in other areas they wouldn't work well. So, if I would have given up in the beginning, I wouldn't have ever been able to ride this phenomenal ride that we, we get to ride now. And even before COVID, before all this, we were doing fairly well as a farm market out in the middle of nowhere. And it's always been a whole lot of fun. And that's another point that you always have to make it fun for you. If you don't wake up in the morning and decide that it is, it is going to be fun, doing what you're doing, you got to find something else to do, because if it's not fun working the long hours that you have to work in the farm market industry or being at a farm or for any of these things, you won't want to do it long because I can tell you that I don't get paid by the hour because we'd be making pennies every hour.

So that's, that's the big thing for me is have fun with it, but also pave your own path, make it work for you. Because if I would have taken everybody's advice that they gave me, I don't think we'd be where we're at. I think we would've changed paths too many times, and sometimes you just got to keep on chugging at it until it really sticks. So it's a, it's a whole weird world when you are selling to the general public. And there are a lot of people that liked doing it, and there's a lot of people that don't like doing it. And that's one of those things where you got to love it. You got to love wanting to sell products and wanting to sell your products. I mean, the thought from this coming week, we're going to start picking sugar snap peas. And the thought that we planted those by seed and grew them all the way to this and get to watch them head out the door in pints just amazes me. And even after doing this for 10 years or having the farm market for 10 years, it still amazes me and makes me happy. And that's how I know I'm doing the right thing.

Meaghan:

Well, I think it makes a lot of your customers happy too, especially on that note of fun. I love the video series that you guys have been putting out to acknowledge the homeschooling parents and the kids trying to do schoolwork from home.

Who came up with the [video] idea?

Trevor:

So I definitely have to give that idea to Victoria. While we were sitting in the store one day you start hearing from these parents that have no idea where they're or what they're going to do with their kids being home. And you know, we usually have a bunch of field trips that come out. We do interviews with different classes all the way from kindergarten, all the way up to college. So it was a weird environment for us not to have the field trips. And, you know, we started talking and said, well, why can't we? And we had a friend of ours that's in the video business. And he said, you know, let's do this. And with help from you all at Farm Credit, we were able to get this done and it's been a whole lot of fun and people love it. People were able to show it to their kids. We've had classes, we know that there's several teachers sending it to their classes. So we wanted just to make something that would help people out during this time. And that's what's happened.

Meaghan:

Almost like carrying on what normal would have been just in a different format.

Trevor:

Exactly. You know, we don't have to change everything that we've done. There's still a lot of good things that can't be done right now, but they're going to be done in the future. And one of those is field trips and the fact that we could have people in our sow barn looking at the little piglets, you know, that's not something that normally we allow during even the regular field trips, just because of a biosecurity standpoint. But with video, we were able to do that. And that's what fun about it is.

Meaghan:

Yeah. They turned out fantastically and from our point of view, obviously it's very easy for us to write a check when you guys are doing all the hard work, but it has been an awesome project to see come together. And I haven't seen very many of them come out. I think I want to say center for dairy excellence might have put together a couple of virtual tours. I know there's quite a few of the bigger names that are doing it. Cause it's not, it's not always the easiest project when it comes to video, but I love that you guys took a multi week approach. There's something new to come out each week. And I think that was a very, very nice nod to all of the parents trying to figure out that, that weird homeschooling thing that they really didn't sign up for.

Trevor:

Yup, absolutely.

Meaghan:

So two more questions for you.

So since the market has been packed and amidst all of this chaos, have you guys thought about any plans for expansion for the market side of it?

Trevor:

Yes. the, the answer to that is yes. We are hoping to do an expansion at some point in time. The farmer in me, says let's go, let’s build. Because I know that I can grow enough and get enough from enough different farms so we can fill that place. But the business side of me says, hold up, wait a second, this isn't going to last forever. And so it's a tug of war here that we know will, at some point in time lead us to building a new store or expanding the store we're in. We know that we want to stay there on the farm. That's not that's not up for discussion, really. We are staying on the farm, but how that store is built or looks is definitely being talked about. And what is included in that store is definitely being talked about. I know that when all those plans get announced, it will be a fun, fun week of showing people everything on Facebook. And I look forward to the day that we're able to open doors on a new market, but it's definitely going to take a whole lot of time and planning and a whole lot of money, which at least we know Farm Credit will back us up.

Meaghan:

Well, I'm not in any position to be handing out anything, but I do like your odds so far, so good. Right.

Trevor:

So far so good.

Meaghan:

Well, that's really good news. And we look forward to hearing that I'm going to make the trip up when you guys open your new market. Whenever that decides to be. So I will be first in line.

Trevor:

There you go.

Meaghan:

All right, Trevor. Well, my last question for you, and then I'm going to let you get back to work, I'm sure you still got plenty to do. At the end of each episode, we like to end with the same question for everyone.

What do you advocate for in agriculture?

Trevor:

We want to see people understand where their food comes from. We want to bring people back to the farm. I feel like we are so many generations removed from the farm anymore, that we don't understand as a country where our food comes from. And I think it's very important to know your farmer and know the person raising your products and know everything that goes into that, because knowledge is a great tool. We see so many different articles on why something is bad or bad for you or that kind of thing. But if we all got to know our farmer a little bit, I think the world would be a little better place. And our little farm market is just one step in that long journey of knowing who creates your food in a bakery, who grows your produce out in a field, who raises that animal, who butchers that steak. But I think you need to know every step of the process to really understand how it gets there and why it gets there because it's an amazing system. And I think sometimes as a country, we take it for granted. But the COVID-19 issue has really put agriculture in the front of everybody's minds on that. And we are super excited to be a part of that, but we know there's a lot of learning to go ahead, but I think it's a great start into knowing where your food comes from.

Meaghan:

Well, I think you guys are serving that mission so well, and I couldn't agree with you more, it's, it's an important mission to serve, and I love seeing what you guys are doing. And I think you guys are doing that one customer at a time in person, you're doing it probably by several hundred people on Facebook each time you make a post. And we love seeing it. We love supporting you guys. And I really appreciate you talking to me today and kind of given our followers some insight on how this has affected you guys. So I really appreciate your time.

Trevor:

Hey, well, we really appreciate you all having our backs at Farm Credit. We have always enjoyed our relationships with everybody that we've come into a meeting through MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and it's always been a pleasure. And thanks for having us with all your people.

Meaghan:

Absolutely, absolutely. Now also, please tell Victoria, I said, thank you. I know that she's the real brains behind this operation, so make sure she knows.

Trevor:

Absolutely. She is absolutely the brains behind the operation. I won't hide that one bit

Meaghan:

Behind every good man. That's how it goes, right?

Trevor:

That's right. It is exactly how it goes. And our relationship and our farm is his no different from that. I mean, she is, and I will tell you this about her. She, she did not have a real big ag background. She had a horse, but did not come from a farming family and she has jumped into this. And I don't know if I want to say this, but I will anyway, she's a better farmer than I am. And you know,  I have it running through my blood, but she is, she is the one top of it and I will I will always push her up on that, she is definitely the brains behind the operation.

Meaghan:

Oh, well, I figured as much and you're smart to say it.

Trevor:

That's right.

Meaghan:

Alright, Trevor will. Thanks again. Have a good night and let Victoria now I will be calling her soon.

Trevor:

That sounds good. See ya.

Meaghan:

See ya.

Hey everyone, thanks so much for tuning into this episode. If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to share with a friend and rate and subscribe, follow us on your favorite social media platform. Look for us at mafc.com/podcast to sign up for email alerts when we release new episodes. And if you have a suggestion for a guest or a topic that you'd like to see us cover, shoot us an email at podcast@mafc.com.  Until next time, keep on AgVocating for what you believe in

 

Links:

Local Homestead Products Website

Local Homestead Products Facebook page

South Mountain Creamery

Center for Dairy Excellence

 

 

Tags