We’re going to start writing a regular blog/newsletter—and this is the first! For those of you willing to slog through my ramblings, the aim is to give you a real-time, on-the-ground perspective of our business (local, vertically integrated agriculture), so you can get to know us a little better. We’ll give you updates on the businesses and share stories of life on the farm.
Times are challenging, but we’re managing through them with support from our awesome team and loyal customers. Above all, we hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy.
Starting with the not-so-great: this pandemic is presenting new challenges daily. Like so many businesses, our sales are decreasing. The sales we have are mostly retail, which yield better margins and cash flow but require more labor, materials, and freight costs to butcher, pack, label, and ship. The flow is also less predictable.
COVID cases in our county are growing, and while tests are available, the results are taking many days to come through—making the problem much harder to control. Luckily, we’ve only had one positive case to date, but our entire staff has been out for testing at least once, some of us two or three times. We’re a small team, and these absences put a great strain on our remaining staff members, which can lead to exhaustion, mistakes and low overall morale as people grapple with the pandemic both inside and outside of work.
We know we’re not alone—businesses up and down the supply chain are experiencing the same problems, with even large global companies like FedEx feeling the effects. In response to some recent issues with our shipping process, our FedEx reps tell us they’re dealing with huge surges in ground shipping volumes at the same time COVID is causing labor shortages. As a result, our ground shipments can take as many as 7 or 8 days to get to customers who live within 50 miles of the farm. For us, this means that for every customer who receives warm product, we must pack and personally deliver a new box free of charge. While these costs—from additional labor and time to packaging and shipping—have presented a steep challenge for our small business, we remain committed to delivering the best product and service possible. In the end, we are grateful to still be in business and pursuing our passion through our work at the Home Place.
On the bright side, the farm buzzes on despite these new challenges, and we remain focused on our longer-term goals and growth. Today, we’re most excited about the progress we’re making on our new retail store, a renovated house my father built in the late 60s. Our new store will be a place for customers to engage with the farm—whether you’re looking to buy some pork chops, check-in for a farm stay, or grab lunch and a cold beer. We hope to expand the grocery options to include not only our Home Place products, but also local dairy, eggs, fish and dry goods. You may even be able to purchase crafts from local artisans! We’re excited to show you our progress and further our mission to revitalize the farm.
Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for keeping the Home Place going!
We would love to hear from you—if there are topics you’re interested in learning more about, if you have questions about the business or our products, or if you just want to share a great recipe—please don’t hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org.