Ruth Chantry of Common Good Farm talks about their farm with vegetable crops in the background
A view of Branched Oak Farm in the Bohemian Alps near Raymond
Doug Dittman describes milking parlor at Branched Oak Farm.
Quark produced at Branched Oak Farm
On Common Good Farm, grass-fed beef are butchered and sold annually.
This past week I participated in a tour of two organic farms in the Lincoln area, Common Good Farm and Branched Oak Farm. These are both excellent examples of entrepreneurs in agriculture in southeast Nebraska. The tour was initiated because a group of dieticians from the Veterans Administration were interested in touring and learning more about organic farming and local food production.
Common Good Farm has been growing and selling organic food in southeast Nebraska for 17 years. They are currently located near Raymond, northwest of Lincoln in Lancaster County Nebraska. Last week when we visited their farm, they were having a plant sale of vegetables and herbs. This sale will continue this weekend. Common Good Farm is owned and operated by Ruth Chantry and Evrett Lundquist. They farm full time, growing 45 different kinds of produce and 4 acres of vegetables and herbs. Their primary focus is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where members purchase shares to receive a weekly box of produce through the summer. They also sell at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln on Sundays and sell seasonally to Open Harvest, a natural food cooperative grocery store in Lincoln. Common Good Farm also has a pasture-based organic laying flock of Rhode Island Red chickens that produce eggs year round. They butcher grass-fed beef and pasture raised pork annually, usually in late fall or early winter. They sell direct to customers off the farm and to some local grocers and restaurants in Lincoln. To find out more about Common Good Farm, go to, http://www.commongoodfarm.com/index.html.
We also toured Branched Oak Farm, an organic grass-based dairy near Raymond that is owned and operated by Doug and Krista Dittman with help from their two sons. The farm is 230 acres, located
Plant Sale at Common Good Farm
in what is sometimes called the Bohemian Alps. Doug and Krista have been together on the farm since 1999. They first raised and sold grass-fed beef and free-range chickens. Now they have a herd of Jersey dairy cattle, and the main product they sell and make on the farm is cheese.
Initially Branched Oak Farm and ShadowBrook Farm, another organic farm and goat dairy near Denton, southwest of Lincoln built a creamery together on the farm and formed Farmstead First, LLC in 2005. Krista made cheese from their cows’ milk and Charuth Loth, from ShadowBrook made cheese from their dairy goats. Both operations have grown and Branched Oak processes its cheese on the farm, while ShadowBrook currently processes their cheese at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center. They hope to open up their own cheese making facility on their farm this summer. Branched Oak Farm has several types of cheeses it produces on the farm. They sell cheese off the farm, at the Hay Market Farmers Market in Lincoln and the Old Market Farmers Market in Omaha, at Open Harvest Coop Grocery Store and Ideal Grocery in Lincoln and Whole Foods in Omaha.
Doug and Krista also have developed an Intern Program on their farm. They have some land where interns are learning how to develop their own enterprises and grow and market fruits, vegetables and livestock in exchange for labor, food and a place to stay. This is a developing project. To learn more about Branched Oak Farm go to, http://branchedoakfarm.com/about.php.
After several years of programs in eastern Nebraska, the Farm Beginnings® Program is finally moving west, with a class planned for North Platte in the west central region of Nebraska. As part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is facilitating the Farm Beginnings® Program. We have conducted 5 Farm Beginnings® Programs in eastern Nebraska, with over 30 farm entities completing the program. The Farm Beginnings® Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Farm Beginnings® participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers and attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences. The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining first-hand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation. While any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions, most of the farmers that present come from small to medium-sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products. Many of these farmers direct market their products.
The Farm Beginnings® Program consists of a series of 10 sessions from May to October that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management. While the class participants will learn first-hand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course. There also is a tour of a greenhouse and hoop house in May and the group tours several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating. If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.
For more information about the program contact Randy Saner, extension educator at email@example.com or 1-800-200-1381. A brochure and application are available for download at http://www.lincolnmcpherson.unl.edu.
Gary Lesoing talks about value-added agriculture and entrepreneurship on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Entrepreneurship Team’s latest Let’s Do Business in Nebraska video! You can check it out by going to: http://youtu.be/wv2xB2M26VE
Posted in Ag, Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Tourism
Tagged Alternative Agriculture, Business Development, entrepreneurship, Global Business, Innovation, Nebraska, Value-Added Agriculture
With funding from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant Program, the Center for Rural Affairs, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society sponsored six beginning farmer and rancher workshops in Nebraska. These workshops focused on the beginning farmer and rancher. Three workshops focused on the concepts of mob grazing and/or marketing grass-fed beef. Following lunch there will be a session on beginning business planning. During these session participants will learn about basic business principles, i.e. net worth, cash flow, income profit and loss statements and how these can be important business tools in a mob grazing and grass-fed beef operation.
There are two remaining workshops that focus on the beginning farmer and vegetable/fruit production. At these workshops successful produce growers will discuss their operations and the various production and marketing strategies they use on their farms. Following lunch there will be a session on beginning business planning. During these session participants will learn about basic business principles, i.e. net worth, cash flow, income profit and loss statements and how these can be important business tools in a vegetable/fruit production operation. Below are listed the remaining two vegetable/fruit production workshops.
On April 12th, at the UNL Agriculture Research and Development Center near Mead, NE Kevin and Charuth Loth will discuss their organic vegetable/flower operation at Shadowbrook Farm and how they produce both in high tunnels and in the field. They will describe their different marketing strategies of selling off the farm, through a CSA, at several farmers markets, and wholesale to different outlets. After lunch, Dave Welsch will conduct his program on beginning business planning for a produce farm.
On April 16th in Omaha, NE Ryan Pekarek from Pekarek Produce will explain his family’s vegetable operation and the marketing options they practice. Ryan and his wife Katie produce a variety of vegetables on their farm. They also utilize a high tunnel and grow much of their produce in the field. They market their produce off the farm, at farmers markets, wholesale to grocery stores and to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Buy-Fresh-Local Program. Following lunch Dave will lead a session in beginning business planning for the produce farmer.
All of these workshops are FREE and include: refreshments, lunch, some resources as part of the workshops. Pre-registration prior to each workshop is required so we can plan accordingly for lunch and handouts. Date, time and location of the remaining workshops are listed below. To register call GaryLesoing at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Nemaha County at (402) 274-4755.
The whirlwind tour of Eastern Nebraska is over for now. I taught leadership and innovation sessions (using the Marsmallow Challenge and other fun challenges) throughout Eastern Nebraska, and one of the exercises involved teams drawing the COOLEST RURAL COMMUNITY EVER!
What would your drawing of the COOLEST RURAL COMMUNITY look like?
Respond and let us know!
Looking forward to your ideas!!
Connie Reimers-Hild, PhD, CPC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cool Place! Pheasant Bonanza Hunt Club Near Tekamah, NE
- Participants in the Leadership Burt County program take on the Marshmallow Challenge!