First Generation Farmers Expand From Small Freezer Into a Retail Farm Store
My husband Kaleb and I began farming in 2015. As
first-generation farmers, we dove head first into commercial poultry farming
when we built four mega houses on a 40-acre property in Northern Cleburne
County. Once we began poultry farming full time, our new lifestyle opened the
door for the homesteading life I always longed to have. Finally, we had enough
property to raise a few cows and pigs to feed our growing family. We decided
after several questions about filling our freezer to try raising a few more
pigs to fill the demand in our community for “freezer meat.”
Over two years, our small homestead dream grew into a small garage business where we were selling USDA-certified beef and pork to our local community. We were able to pick up a 120-acre lease 6 miles south of us to grow our herd. We visited numerous local famers markets during the market season every Saturday - all four kiddos in tow. We sold our products one cut at a time and told our stories via social media and word of mouth. Finally, in 2019 our business had grown enough that we decided it may be time to choose between our small business and our commercial poultry farm. Both of these full-time jobs were stretching us very thin. So in November of 2020, we sold our poultry farm, bought a camper, and decided to start our new adventure
We went straight to Alabama Farm Credit with our new endeavor, and our friend and loan officer was as excited as we were to see our business grow. We were able to pay down a new piece of property and finance the rest with AFC. We fixed up an old tractor shed on the property and turned it into a small farm store with a walk-in freezer and plenty of room to store, ship, and sell our products. A few months later, we decided to build our homestead here on this property as well, and AFC was there for us to help with that too.
Many young, beginning, and/or small farmers don’t think a bank would be willing to help them on such a small scale, but AFC knows that every good business dream starts SMALL. When you’re starting from scratch, there are a lot of costs that we can’t always take on as beginning farmers without help. Commercial farmers work on big scales with big numbers, and they need help, too(we did!), but AFC sees those exact needs on a smaller scale and has stepped in to bridge this gap by partnering with YBS farmers.
Though we still have much to learn, do, and accomplish--we have grown out of that small freezer in our garage and into a retail farm store with shipments going out all across the Eastern United States. We host farm tours, open each weekend for in-store shopping, ship out beef and pork every two weeks, and have even started selling branded shirts, hats, candles, and stickers! We have worked hard as a young family to get to where we are, and we have learned many lessons the hard way(by trial and error), but there is no doubt that our business could not have grown and would not have grown without the faith and trust of AFC in our small business dream!