Creating a service center on our farm for expanding the sale of locally grown foods and local products
We spent most of the spring of 2011 getting our Log Cabin store built. We now have a permanent old style log cabin as a store in place of our small market stand. Since opening our store, sales have increased dramatically. We have posted marketing materials at the store and informed the public through newspaper articles as well as through word of mouth about our grain mill. We have had a lot of interest in whole grains as well as the fresh bread flours and pastas in particular that will be available in our store. We plan to offer a variety of natural foods made from our whole grains. Here is a sampling:
• whole grain flours
• pancake/waffle mixes
• corn bread mix
• handmade pastas
• gluten free items
• bakery items
RESULTS TO DATE:
So far Back to Basics Log Cabin has worked on advertising at local trade shows across two states. We have had two newspaper articles written in two different local papers. We have another writer that we are currently working with that is preparing an article for Farmworldonline.com.
• Collected emails/phone numbers/ addresses
• Had an open house (2 days) made contact with over 200 people
• Barlow Fair (4 days) made contact with over 600
• Warren Craft Show (1 day) made contact with 325
• Belpre Historical Society (1 day) made contact with 75
• Christmas in the Village (1 day) made contact with 275
• Mineral Wells Craft Show (1day) made contact with 324
• Back to Basics Log Cabin Store: contact to date: over 2,600 people
Health and Wellness Trade Show at Washington County Career Center April 12, 2012
1) We have developed recipes for whole grain spaghetti, fettuccine, egg noodles and lasagna in a variety of flavors that include: sun dried tomato, lemon basil, garlic Basil pepper and Italian Herb. All the herbs are grown in our herb garden and we use our farms eggs for the pasta recipe.
2) We contacted Department of Transportation in regards to a highway sign stating “Back to Basics Log Cabin Farmers Market”; at our local intersection, however they cannot place a tourist sign in a place where there is a highway division (which is our location). The closest signage they can put up would be over 2 miles away.
3) Our product line has increased from the original honey, soap, lip balm and salves to include:
at least 6 varieties each of Salves, Lip Balms, Bath Oils, Mud Masks, Facial Lotions, Facial Oils, Sea Salt Scrubs, Facial Cleansing Grains (currently we hand mill, soon we can use our commercial mill which will cut production time in half), 15 herbal soaps,
30 varieties of Essential Oils, Bath Bombs, Milk Baths and Shower Fizzies, 3 Varieties of Honey, Herbal Teas (utilizing the grain mill will provide a more evenly cut product), 32 varieties of herbs fresh and dried, local crafters have set up hand made products as well. Each and every product listed above contains natural herbs and or grains that have been milled on site. Nothing is made from Outside the USA and we source all of our materials/packaging from US companies.
4) We increased our hives from the original 14 to over 50 hives, Randy has learned from a local professor/beekeeper how to do Queen Rearing, which is grafting baby bees and creating new Queens for colony expansion.
5) We created Rack Cards advertising our local farm and milling capabilities and posted them locally as well as at the events we attended listed above.
6) We created a Facebook profile where we are in contact with our customers every day keeping them updated on what we are creating, making or selling. We also provide nutritional information and advertise for shop local and shop small business.
7) We purchased our grain mill and are in the midst of building an expansion that will house the mill and our whole foods section.
8) We hosted an open house at our store where we had a sampling of our varieties of honey, herbal teas and baked goods.
5) Randy and our 7 year old daughter Heather have done 4 public speaking events at Warren Local Schools. Since they are 2nd and 3rd Generation beekeepers they taught the students about bees, their growth cycle and their direct impact on crop growth/production. They provided the classrooms with brochures and coloring books, Randy built a live hive display that was left in the classrooms for a few days for viewing purposes.
Our original plans had been to cater to local tourism with Randy’s handmade log cabin resembling an old fashioned cabin of old. However once the locals heard of our store and how good our natural honey and natural body care items were, the demand for natural foods became loud. Many people stating that they would drive to Athens or Columbus (20-40 miles) to buy whole grain foods. Once we informed our customers of the grain mill we would be getting, the demand increased.
Current Research and Development:
1) Researching the legal requirements relating to nutrition and labeling and deciding upon a label and packaging materials that will keep the product fresh but have the old time feel of the kind of flour you would have purchased in mill sacks back in the 19th Century. We are working in conjunction with a Marietta Graphic Design College Professor who is very keen to work with us through to completion on this.
2) Explore and develop direct marketing channels for products. The desired outcome was the development of a direct marketing approach. Activities to be included are to network with other community-based organizations regarding direct marketing approaches and researching efficiency of those direct marketing approaches.
3) Contacting local farmers to provide the variety of grains needed to supply our mill with Wheat, Flax, Corn, Soy and Oats and provide these grains in small retail packaging, larger home baker packaging as well as bulk commercial packaging for our local bakers etc.
4) Contacting local farmers of fresh produce to supply herbs, fruits and vegetables that will be sold at our seasonal market stand.
5) Having our local homemakers prepare fresh baked goods using our milled flours and Back to Basics Log Cabin honey to generate a cost savings for our customers as well as provide substantial nutritional value compared to what people can get at their local grocery store.
6) Develop a website with the assistance of students from Marietta College that will provide educational and nutritional information to the public as well as provide a location they can purchase whole grains (pancake mixes, bread flours etc) online making fresh food products available not only to our local customers, but across America as well. With the size of this mill, it makes it convenient to mill as needed, ensuring the nutritional values aren’t degenerating unnecessarily. Once an herb or grain is cut/milled it loses up to 25 percent of its flavor and nutrition.
7) Further developing recipes for corn bread, pancake/waffle mix, granola.
8) We are going to fully incorporate a farmers market at our location that will benefit everyone. The farmers will drop off fresh produce and we will charge minimal commission, just enough to cover the cost of bagging, credit card fees and overhead. We plan to pass those savings onto our customers. Providing a more nutritional produce locally will help our town economically as well.
9) Provide an educational area of the store for Agro tourism where people can watch baby chickens hatch in an incubator in spring, see a hive in action through the summer with our hive viewing box and have bins filled with examples of whole grains before they are milled for a sensory experience and to teach about “from farm to table”. Many church groups, 4H groups as well as Girl Scout/Boy Scout troops have inquired about touring our facility, and a section of our store dedicated to this would enable us to walk them through more efficiently.
10) We have had a number of new farmers who are interested in learning beekeeping, as well as other varieties of farming. We would like to host some beginners classes that will teach them about heirloom gardening, natural ways of treating for pests using natural oils and essential oils, then advise of where they can market their products, either through our farmers market or other local markets.
Since the opening of our store in July, 2011 I believe we have learned essentially what our local customer base is looking for. Natural, Whole Foods, Chemical Free are what interests them, but they do not want to pay a big price in order to live a healthy lifestyle. We are striving to find a balance between nutrition and cost effectiveness. We now have the capability to mill for an individual or a large bakery. We are very excited to move forward and start production.
Below we included a picture of the Log Cabin that was built by Randy Hamrick using traditional construction practices by the early settlers.