ABINGDON, Va. — A young farm couple has found a niche for connecting with customers, a strategy that has turned their local farm into a direct marketing business.
Will and Amy Campbell of Old Rich Valley Farm will be guest speakers for a webinar Tuesday, June 30, when the Knowledge Center of Farm Credit of the Virginias presents a program open to the public on direct marketing for agriculture products.
The couple will explain their direct-to-consumer operation during the presentation from noon to 1 p.m., followed by questions from the audience.
The farm family began selling their meat products directly to customers about four years ago. It’s a plan that is working well for the Saltville, Virginia, couple who has actually seen an upswing in business since the pandemic began.
In addition to selling pasture-raised beef, pork and chicken, they also prepare and sell bone broth and smoked meats cooked in their own farm kitchen.
Economic shutdowns from the pandemic have caused farmers throughout the country — and here at home — to rethink the way they do business.
Like many farmers, the couple is relying on a direct-to-consumer operation, delivering their products straight to individuals.
To start their operation, the couple began following the same ideals of Joel Salatin, a farmer, lecturer and author in the Shenandoah Valley, who is known for putting into practice many innovative agriculture methods, including direct marketing.
Amy estimated that most of their meat sales are done directly with customers, especially since the arrival of the pandemic.
Farms that sell directly to consumers are flourishing even as the country suffers from an economic downturn, she said.
Many small producers faced hardships when schools and restaurants closed due to COVID-19 guidelines, which caused disruptions in the supply chain.
“People are realizing that the model of grocery store buyers is not sustainable. Meat became scarce when big processing plants were forced to close their doors when employees became infected with the virus,” said Amy.
Consumers are realizing that it’s easier to buy meat directly from the source, she said.
The couple has organized a local meat-buying club where orders are delivered to customers at designated sites. Once a month, meat orders are packed in coolers and driven to Bristol and Knoxville for consumers to purchase.
During the week, the couple also makes local deliveries to prearranged sites in Abingdon and Marion.
Amy said Facebook and emails have helped them accumulate as many as 300 regular customers who buy direct.
A new addition to their operation is an on-farm inspection kitchen, where the couple can use some of their meat cuts to prepare, heat and serve meals, such as brisket, chicken quarters and pulled pork.
“We have an on-farm inspection kitchen that allows us to take our meats another step by actually cooking it for you. Now you can feed your family home-cooked, quick and easy meals without compromising the quality or the taste,” said Amy.
According to Sarah Syphers, Knowledge Center program specialist, the weekly webinars held this spring have focused on everything from the economic outlook and running a business during COVID-19 to mental health in agriculture and staying positive during a troubling time.
“The Knowledge Center is the education arm of our Farm Credit, and there are only four of them in the nation,” she said. “We provide education, learning opportunities and advocacy resources.
“Our goal and mission is to make sure that people have access to timely and meaningful resources.”
The webinars are designed for people who are active or interested in agriculture.
The live webinar can be viewed with a smartphone or computer by clicking the link found on the Farm Credit of the Virginias Facebook page.
A recording of the webinar will be available on the Farm Credit of the Virginias Facebook page when the Knowledge Center presents “Watch It Back Wednesday” on July 22.