Wende Elliott of Wholesome Harvest received a 2000 SARE grant to help support the initial development of a farmer-owned internet company that would buy directly from the farmers, process and sell its own brand to consumers. This model will offer a way for sustainable farmers to get guaranteed contract prices on niche crops and have the opportunity to own valuable high-tech stock.
This project established that direct marketing of niche agriculture on the internet can provide a way for beginning and small farmers to make a better living with a better quality of life, practice better stewardship of the land and water, and bring more people back to farming. This project sought to prove that smaller farms could generate the same profit as a mega commodity farm with more earnings per acre using organic practices for a diversified meat production that would be direct marketed in shared efforts to reach larger markets.
The process began by performing a feasibility study for direct marketing on the test market of Des Moines and then designed a website and marketing materials based on their research. The market that has been placed for organic meat pays a premium and the business model that has been created is designed to return the maximum percentage of profits possible to the farm. The target prices for chicken are $.95/lb carcass weight and $1.50/lb hanging weight for beef.
This project seems to be going well, as the project’s administer is working as the marketing rep for approximately 10 organic farmers now and is actively signing up more producers and clients on a weekly basis. Wholesome Harvest’s staff continues to rise and anticipates having over 55 producers participating in 2002 and 267 by the year 2006. Wholesome Harvest works to form alliances with small town Iowa and family-owned processing facilities to strengthen the region by keeping money in the state and contributing to rural revitalization.
Colo, IA 50056