Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Encouraging Article...

I found an encouraging article on the front page of the April issue of "The Stockman Grassfarmer." The title is, "Local Foods Movement Provided A Way Into Universities for North Carolina Grassfed Beef Company." That is one thing that I love about this publication ... there is no wondering what the article is about because they lay it all out in the title! Anyways, the article was so encouraging because it was about a couple in North Carolina that started on crop ground and expanded in just a few years to the point that they were able to buy from other grass finishers in the area because the demand was so high.

Now, it is important that I point out that this farm is located in the triangle between Duke, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State o they have a good number of people close by. But, it was the students at those schools that really helped get Patrick and Amy Robinette's beef on the market ... or in the schools. Now their farm, Harris Acres Farms, provides grassfed beef to various markets and even those Universities.

The Robinette's began with only 12 cows (starting small ... I like that) and within just six months they had been asked to provide 100 grassfed beeves per month! That is a lot and obviously it was out of reach for them, but they did realize that it meant there was a lot of potential. So, over the next few years they began leasing land from Mrs. Robinette's parents and coming up with a forage chain that worked from them and their climate. By renting land that had been used for tobacco and row crops the were definitely flying in the face of conventional wisdom, but it did work out for them.

Through their research, experimentation, grazing, marketing, and more they were able to slowly ramp up production to the point that they could start serving the colleges. I really was encouraged by the fact that they didn't do this with a lot of capital in their pockets or a lot of borrowed money, but built it up as they could over three or four years (which is still pretty quick). Now they aren't completely where they would like to be, but they are getting there. Mr. Robinette is also passing on the knowledge by teaching a class in agriculture at a local high school.

Cool stuff and very encouraging. You can check out Harris Acres Farms by clicking on the link.

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