by Edwin Shank, October 4, 2012
I was struck immediately. A friend had just introduced me to Ted LeBow, a self-described "serial entrepreneur." In our first conversation, Ted defined a sustainable agricultural community as "a farmer incubator." It was love at first sound. A Sustainable Farmer Incubator! It's the Big Dream of The Family Cow expressed perfectly!
The imagery is compelling. Nurturing conscientious farmers. Hatching their ideas. Protecting their vision. Marketing their segment of the food chain. Warming and supporting their efforts. Sustaining new life. Defending the fledgling farmer and his family through the tough start-up years. Giving their dream a chance at life!
It has been 4 years since Dawn and I launched The Family Cow. Today our family is increasingly awakened to this fuller scope of our Big Dream. Let me explain.
Long ago, The Dream Giver visited our family with special vision and talent for nurturing healing foods from His good earth. High-integrity, nutrient-dense, raw, healing, pure organic foods from earth, grass and livestock that are treated with full respect to their design and the plan of their Creator. Along with this, the Dream Giver also blessed us with the skills and organization necessary to set up and maintain a unique local food chain that efficiently delivers these special foods to equally special families. To Him we are deeply grateful forever.
But the Dream was too big for us! How could we do it all? We were overwhelmed. Until we realized that we were not supposed to do it all.
Partnering is the beauty of the Dream Giver's plan. Our sustainable farmer neighbors need us. We need them. They benefit from our unique strengths and we from theirs. We work together. We with them and they with us and all of us work for you, the rapidly growing community of smart, awake, food buyers, who consciously chose to make a difference. It is in this culture, and only in this culture, of commitment and working together, that a "farmer incubator" environment is created. Your choice gives sustainable grass farmers like us and other small-food-systems partners a chance to hatch our dreams.
Let me show you how it works. Here is the growing list of artisanal farmers and families that your support is nurturing in the "Farmer Incubator." Sometime I hope to do a more thorough story on each, or better yet, have each of the families tell their own story in their own words. For now I'd like to simply list them so that you catch the hope and imagine the vision of the families you support when you participate in The Family Cow food chain.
- Whispering Brook Cheese Haus:Edward and Joan Brechbill and family: our main raw cheese makers since day one.
- Myron and Lisa Stoltzfus and Family: Source of our original Woodland Pork.
- Marty Lichtenberger Family: Myron and Lisa solicited Lisa’s brother Marty and his family to grow more woodland pork when your needs exceeded the Stoltzfus farmstead.
- Caprine Delight Goat Dairy: Our neighbors Randy and Candy Walker and family were our first real-food-partners. They came to us and asked if we would be willing to help market their raw goat milk. Well, we didn’t have goats and some of you were asking for goat milk, so…why not!
- Rosenberry's Abattoir: Butchers of our organic, grass-fed beef
- Brubaker's Apiary: Our holistic bee keepers
- Smucker's Meats: Prepares, dries and packages our grass-fed beef jerky and beef sticks
- Penn Cheese: our Swiss cheese maker
- Trickling Springs Creamery: makes our organic butter and separates our cream
- Warrington Farm: butchers the woodland pork, makes the sausage and cures the hams and bacons
- Oyler's Organic Farm: The source of the famous Oyler's organic unpasteurized apple cider.
- Conrad and Katrina Hege and family: Growers of our organic garlic bulbs
- Springwood Organic Farm: Source of our Organic Cream Line Yogurt, our inspiration and mentors on soy-free poultry, source of soy-free pastured eggs when we run short, inspiration and source on better egg mobiles and more!
- Berry Blossom Poultry: Nevin Hosteter and family: Our main chicken butchers
- Dawn’s Garden: My wife Dawn's organic garden (almost half an acre) is the main source of organic garden produce for her fresh produce and her canned specialties. It is a labor of love!
- Gwendolyn's Herbs: My 18 yr old daughter Gwendolyn's knowledge and experience as an herbalist is rapidly growing along with the quantity and quality of her herb garden.
- Ryan Zullinger's Organic Farm: Neighbor who supplements the organic tomatoes that Dawn uses in her canning.
- Landisdale Organic Farm: Supplements Dawn's garden produce when necessary.
NEW Ideas and Dreams still incubating!
- Homestead Hearth: Organic sprouted whole wheat bread
- Ruthie's Bakery: (Ruthie is Lynwood's new wife) free-form organic artisanal bread.
- Beef and Chicken Stock: dream stage, needs incubated awhile...
- Organic Raw grass-fed Dog Food: in dream stage...close to hatching
- Breezy Meadows Raw Goat Cheese: might hatch within a month
So this is the evolving scope of Your Family Farmers, folks! These wonderful families have steadily been joining with our family over the last several years. Each of us has a dream. Each of us been visited by the dream giver. And I’m sure each of you have a dream too. If you dream of the purest and best whole foods for your family's wellness, join with us. Pulling together, we'll incubate our individual fledgling dreams to vibrate life!
Your Family Farmer ~ Edwin Shank