In the early 1920s, almost 1 million Black farmers owned 14% of American farmland, but that story is vastly different today. According to the Baltimore Sun, Black farmers lost an astonishing 90% of their land over the years, and today fewer than 50,000 African American farmers, out of a total 3.4 million farmers, remain in business. Farming as a strong source of livelihood for people of African descent is now a distant memory.
What a wonderful feeling to finally have spring upon us at Green Willow Homestead! We had a few “Fool’s Springs” in Shell Lake, WI - but I’ve gotten better at containing my verdant excitement and not jumping the gun. In this first video blog, I share with you what’s happening at Green Willow Homestead for the 2021 season - what we’re planting on the farm, where and how we’re selling our produce, and a few long term goals for the future.
Opening a roadside farmstand is no small feat. When I opened my roadside farmstand I wish there was someone with all the answers to my questions, but like so much of the small farming world there’s a lot of trial and error to be had before you figure things out. That’s why I want to share with you everything I’ve learned along the way as I opened up my roadside farmstand for our farm, Green Willow Homestead.
In this first post in my farmstand series we will cover:
Episode 32 - Where regenerative agriculture gets it wrong and what we can do about it with Chris Newman of Sylvanaqua Farms
We’re having an important conversation today about the intersection of race and agriculture, the glaring issues within the clean food movement, and how regenerative agriculture keeps getting it wrong with Chris Newman. Chris is the co-founder of Sylvanaqua Farms, which is based in the D.C. region. They raise forest-raised pork, grass-fed beef, and pastured chicken and eggs.
A member of the Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians, Chris places a heavy emphasis on the indigenous ethics, values, and knowledge serving as the (often unacknowledged) foundation of the modern permaculture movement, and the decolonized worldview necessary to ensure the sustainable stewardship of natural resources. An engineer and technologist by trade, he also accepts and explores the potential of modern scientific innovation to address the gaps left by ecosystem farming in solving a sustainability problem wherein timeliness is a factor.
Figuring out how to use your existing property, or a brand new piece of land, and turn it into a homestead can be a daunting task. In this post, I’m going to share with you how we planned out our homestead on five acres over the course of five years. It’s so fun to see where we started when we first purchased our land, and then five years later, how everything turned out.
We’ll go over:
Learning About Online And Digital Marketing For Farmers With Kelsey Jorissen Olesen - The Rural Woman Podcast
Want to learn how to use online marketing for your farm or homestead business? In less than a year I doubled my income using online and digital marketing. So when I launched my very first roadside farmstand, I applied everything I learned and was completely blown away. Within one month, we hit our supply ceiling and had 150 super fan farmstand customers visiting our farmstand.
So today I am opening up about my online marketing journey. It’s rare that I get to share this part of my story. Everyone always wants to hear about the farming + homesteading + sustainability side of my journey (all of which I am happy to talk about!), but today that changes. If you’ve been curious about my path to sitting here writing you this post, how I started multiple e-commerce businesses, or how much money my marketing skills have made me over the years - then I got a heck of a treat for you.
I did a whole podcast interview with Katelyn Duban on The Rural Women Podcast. We cover all things online marketing for your farm or homestead. Katelyn did an amazing job interviewing me and getting to the heart of my marketing origins.
This interview taught me how you can’t fit 21st century farmers into a box. We all have such eclectic journeys, from second-career to first-generation or (in my case) actress turned filmmaker turned photographer turned marketer turned farmer.
Click below to tune in! Happy creepin' on me!
In my last few farm marketing posts, we learned how to pitch your farm’s story to local papers and how to share your products with online influencers to get great reviews.
In this post, I am sharing the surprising way I've gotten local papers, major podcasts, and online bloggers to seek me out, instead of me having to pitch my farm. This tip also has grown customer awareness for our local area for our farm and boosted sales. So what is my special ingredient that makes this magic happen?
It’s all about having a clear cause on behalf of your farm. Let's dive in!
No matter if you sell eggs, wool, hemp, pickles, or beef - you need reviews for your farm’s products. Why? Because a review is what we marketers call “social proof.” Having a well written review about one of your farm’s products gives website visitors or your social media followers proof that spending their money with you is worth it.
A glowing review proves to a potential customer that the investment they make in buying your products is a good and trustworthy one - even if it is for a $5 bar of goats milk soap! Seeing reviews is a psychological tipping point when someone is considering purchasing a product. They think, “If this person did it and they liked it, then I will most likely be happy with my purchase too.”
So why have an influencer write you a review for your farm’s products? Reaching out to a local influencer for a farm product feature is like the mother of all reviews. Typically an influencer will have a healthy-sized following that trusts them and their opinion on products.
Influencers also maximize your farm’s exposure when they write a review. They have the ability to do an Instagram post, Instagram story series, send out an email to their list, post to their Facebook Page, and even do a blog post - all for your farm.
When most of us farmers hear the word “networking” we get a little pang at the bottom of our stomach. The word sounds so modern, so glossy, so dare I say it - corporate. What this word has stood for over the last few decades in our culture is quite literally the opposite of why most of us farm. We farm to escape the rigidity of cubicles, the stuffiness of meetings, and the obligation of hard deadlines.
I want to reframe networking for you and your farm so it doesn’t make you want to turn tail and run to the back forty. Instead, I want you to see how networking is a powerful tool for you to get your farm featured in your local newspaper and beyond.
While screen-time might be the last thing you think you need when building a successful farm, it’s actually what you need the most.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a child in my community. She was working on a project for school where she could choose anything she wanted to focus on, and she chose to study female farmers and how to open her own farmstand. So she chose me, a first generation female farmer who raises pastured chickens and produce through permaculture methods on five acres in Southeastern Wisconsin. To say I was touched was an understatement, I felt like I had won a ticket to the moon.
After a short tour of the farm, we chatted in my living room. Her first and most important question was, “How do you find your customers for your farm?”
I stopped to think about it. Then it hit me. We find all of our customers for our farm online.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we turn the 80 acres we call home into a farm that serves its community and a homestead that nourishes us throughout the seasons.
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Favorite Books of 2021
2. Braiding Sweetgrass
3. As Long As Grass Grows
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. The Zero Waste Solution