Workshop about direct meat marketing stems from demand
“It’s not simple,” said Wendy Baroli, farmer at GirlFarm/Grow For Me Sustainable Farm. “This isn’t for the faint of heart, and this isn’t for someone who wants instant satisfaction or immediate gratification. This is for the long haul. It’s a lifestyle change.”
She was talking about becoming a small farmer or rancher in the dry conditions of Northern Nevada, but she believes there’s a local market for these farms’ products.
“I would say to you, 10 years ago? No way. Today? Absolutely,” Baroli said. “The local food movement has made it so that you can actually be a small farmer or rancher in this area, but it’s up to us, as small farmers and ranchers, to do a good job and interact with the customer.”
Referencing the ideas of the book The Thankful Economy, Baroli explained that social media has made our society like a small town again. She said she thinks people feel isolated in suburbia with “gates between us and our neighbors” and “gates between us and anyone who wants in to our neighborhood” and that people now crave communication and interaction with each other. This shift can allow for small farms to be successful at a local level.
“People really want to feel connected to their businesses, who they purchase from. People want to buy from people they like. So you have to come off of your tractor and create that small community on Facebook or Tumblr or any of those other social media sites. … And people will often return and pay more for someone who they know, who recognizes their kids or their dog or what your coffee is. If you do a really great job, you will create the loyalty and respect that small towns used to have.”
To help local farmers and ranchers achieve this, University of Nevada, Reno’s University Center for Economic Development (UCED) has partnered with Western Nevada College (WNC) for a workshop series based around direct and collaborative marketing of meat. The first in the series is called “Meat CSA [community supported agriculture] and Collaborative Meat Marketing Strategies” and is on Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at WNC’s Fallon campus. It costs $35 before Oct. 5 and lunch will be included.
Baroli will be one of the speakers at this workshop, talking about how small farmers can be successful and about her experiences with her unique eight-month subscription farm system. Also speaking will be Karin Sinclair from Sinclair Family Farm and the Sierra Foothil Producers and George Kleeb from the Nevada Small Business Development Center in Elko, who spent 28 years in banking with an agricultural lending focus.
Margaret Cowee, research analyst for UCED, explained that the collaborative and interactive subscription farm model creates more regular sales for producers and believes this workshop will greatly assist local farmers.
“Hopefully, this will expose more Reno area consumers to local meat products and give them another outlook in which to buy that stuff, and hopefully expand the customer base for our producers,” Cowee said.