COVID-19 impacted businesses of all types and sizes, but a Caledonia farming family grew new ways to make their mark in the food supply chain.
Jordan and Rachelle Meyer raise Angus beef, pork, chicken, and goats as the fourth generation on Jordan’s family farm. Together on Wholesome Family Farms, they teach their five children about the foundation of food production, a system that was affected globally during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 hurt a lot of businesses, but for us, it was good for our farm,” Rachelle said. “A lot more people are looking for that connection with their farmer, and they are looking for good, healthy food.”
She said the food system breaking was a wake-up call for consumers as grocery stores ran out of products and processing plants slowed or paused production.
“A lot of people are reaching out to us, but we can only grow products so fast,” Rachelle said.
To help meet that increased demand, Wholesome Family Farms added shipping for consumers who could not make it out to the farm for a grocery pickup such as individuals in Rochester who want to buy directly from a farmer.
“We also noticed a demand for people wanting a variety and not wanting to get those bulk orders, so we started our Meat Club,” she said.
Essentially, the Meat Club is a monthly, customized meat box subscription. The Meyers are willing to take suggestions from consumers, such as if a family wants ground beef for their kids, but the boxes can include everything from beef, to pork, or chicken. Rachelle said she also plans to include recipe cards in boxes to help customers try new products.
“I’ll switch it up every month, and they always get something new, Rachelle said. “People want to be able to get a few new things and not have to have a ton of freezer space. They get to meet us and having that connection. It’s a relationship that we can build. They can trust us and know that we’re raising everything how they want.”
Their farm utilizes a model called regenerative agriculture.
“We focus on lowering our input costs with our animals,” Jordan explained. “Basically, we try to keep our animals outside doing most of the work on their own in a healthier, cleaner manner. It just works out so much better having them graze on their own and depositing their manure and nutrients right onto the land themselves. They thrive out there.”
A mild winter this past year helped cattle graze into February. Their beef is 100 percent grass-fed. Through their management practices of constantly moving livestock, the Meyers said they eliminated the use of antibiotics, hormones, fly sprays, or deworming agents.
“Basically moving away from confinement is what is working for us,” Jordan said. “We don’t have the greatest equipment, so having the animals doing a little bit more of their workload on their own is beneficial as well.”
Wholesome Family Farms shares their agriculture adventure on Facebook and Instagram, and Jordan posts tutorials on YouTube for fellow producers or curious consumers. More information about the Meyer family and what products they have to offer can be found online.