By Sarah Lyons Chase of Chaseholm Farm
This is post is coming at a good time for the farm, we were approved for raw milk sales last week and concrete was poured in our future tiny farm store. Getting into dairy farming from cheese making was like taking a step further behind the scenes, further away from farmers markets and retail pricing, more than that it was saying hello to commodity markets and forgetting about marketing…at least for a moment. I welcomed that then and I still appreciate the distance, but of course, we also need to make a living and for the way that I want to farm a commodity milk check barely pays the bills.
I am so thrilled to be in cahoots with my brother Rory, cheesemaker and owner at the Chaseholm Farm Creamery, he buys all of my milk except for some occasional moments when he needs a day off and Agri-Mark, a cooperative of farmers I belong to, comes and picks it up. It feels important to me to sell my milk to the creamery; I love being able to own a part of that product, especially as a former cheesemaker myself. I miss it and I feel proud to be a part of the (AMAZING) end product.
It also feels important to me to make this business work at a price per hundredweight (ctw) that isn’t exclusive. I want access! For the sake of clarity I will tell you that right now I am being paid $22/ctw for my milk. I have goals of keeping close track of my cost/ctw. to produce the milk and building smart systems that help me keep that number low. I’m not there yet and when I am I will be able to understand what $$/ctw is best.
The non-wholesale part of my business also has to help me make it. I look forward to building a raw milk clientele and also inviting people into this farm store as a part of it, selling milk and cheese and meats from the farm – products like pastured and whey-fed pork, veal, and beef. I am hoping to sell the milk for $4/half gallon, $2 for the bottle on top of it. I will also be selling these products through participation as a partner farm in the Sparrow Bush Winter CSA. This collaboration is really exciting for me too – I will provide beef and dairy products and Sparrowbush will be growing and storing vegetables, including winter greens in a greenhouse as well as pork, pastas, breads, lamb, eggs and fermented veggies.
I need to do more outreach for the farm store and my own branding as my business moves along. That part is a little daunting but I think I will print little flyers to leave places that I travel (aka: very locally) and try to charm my way into some newspaper articles. Overall, I am planning to build up slowly and really get to know the folks that are interested in buying their milk raw. I am excited and am ready to share what I have been working on. Till next time or if you are near….come visit the farm!
Thanks to Stonyfield, Profits for the Planet, for funding the 2013 Bootstrap blog series.