Tell your story. Get on social media. Join the bandwagon that is now everyday life for the consumer. Odds are you have come across an article or person that has encouraged you to either tell your personal story or your farm story.
We are an average-sized farm in Wisconsin, and times are pretty darn tough. All of the above got me thinking. How do we get through to the consumer? How do we change the tide and get people consuming milk again? How do we start making a profit again? As a family farm, we have talked for years about making our own cheese or bottling our own milk. But now is not the time to start such a grand venture.
So what is one to do in these troubling times? I decided to do something about it and started selling a product that we already have that is made from our own milk. Our milk is made into cheese. I buy the cheese at wholesale and sell it at markets, and I’m beginning to start a business of selling cheese made from my milk in gift boxes. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I know this has all been done before. I’m not saving the farm, but I have certainly learned a few things.
It all started when I saw a man named Damian Mason speak. I then followed his Facebook page where he makes videos and talks politics and some economics. You may have heard some of his catch phrases like, “Agriculture: Because starvation sucks.” But one video stuck out to me. He spoke about one of his favorite events in the world – the Indy 500. He raved about how they have not just made it a race, but an experience. The concerts, drinks and after-party make it a fun experience for everyone, even if you don’t like car racing.
I wanted to start making an experience for the consumer. I wanted to start making a product that brought them to the farm and felt welcome. This had plagued me for months while I thought outside the box and tried to create a product worth buying and – gasp – maybe even profiting from. The fact is it’s already there. It’s already in front of the consumer; we just have to bring it to life. I have had orders from New York to South Dakota from people who want to taste our cheese, because they know us and the story behind it. They see my posts and know my passion behind my photos. They want to try it and eat the end result of all our hard work. We just have to put a face and story behind that wedge of cheese.
Another observation I have made since starting this venture is people love to talk about where they get their food. If they buy product from a farmer, they are going to tell people about it. Consumers don’t tell stories often about getting cheese from the grocery store. They would rather talk about getting them from markets and events, even farms.
Amber McComish is a dairy producer from Darlington, Wisconsin. Email her at email@example.com
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