Ep 91. Simon and Neil on Distribution of Local Food to Increase Direct-to-Consumer Demand

Where should farmers turn when they seek to nail down long-term economic stability?

If you are worried about the long view of your farm during these uncertain times, have we got a show for you! Today, we’re joined by Simon Huntley and Neil Stauffer of Harvie. Simon is founder and CEO of Harvie and Neil manages Harvie Farms Pittsburgh. Harvie helps farmers connect to their local market and grow sales with a technology platform that makes it easy and convenient for consumers to buy from their local farmer, while not driving the farmer crazy with logistics. Harvie Farms sees increased sales, retention rates, and profitability while having the assistance of Harvie’s customer support team for farmer and customer questions, marketing support, and much more. Check out this episode to find out what Harvie can do to help you and your farm establish some of that sweet, sweet staying power!

In This Episode:

What Harvie is all about 1:50

About the problem Small Farm Central aimed to solve for farmers 3:42

Why the CSA model is appealing 5:22

What the drawbacks of the CSA model are 6:52

How the Harvie business model works 7:34

What business model shifts Harvie took during the pandemic 11:22

About Harvie’s marketing approach 17:48

What range of products they offer 22:05

What prompted Simon to write Cultivating Customers 23:54

Some common marketing mistakes farmers make 25:18

How Harvie aims to duplicate their model for all their farms across the country 27:56

How Harvie goes about packaging 30:13

What the process looks like after signing up 33:30

How Harvie prepares to tackle individual marketplaces 43:23

Simon and Neil’s advice for newer farmers who are struggling to grow their farm 48:15

About the Guest

Simon grew up on a farm in southwestern Pennsylvania before pursuing a degree in Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University. After college, Simon helped a Western Colorado fruit farmer expand his operation to include vegetable production and a CSA / farm share program. The project grew to serve five area farmers markets and a 130-member CSA.

Combining his passion for agriculture and technology, he started Small Farm Central in 2006 which now has morphed into Harvie. His goal, and the goal of Harvie, is to help more local farmers become more economically sustainable so they can support their families, take care of their land, treat their employees well and thrive on their farms and in their lives.

Simon has become a thought-leader in the field of local farm marketing. His writing is archived on the Harvie blog, for example CSA: We Have a Path Forward and Local Food Goes Mainstream  He has spoken at many farming conferences on topics around marketing local farms. In 2016, he wrote Cultivating Customers: A Farmers Guide to Online Marketing.Outside of Harvie, Simon is kept active by his two sons, Eliot (age 8) and Theo (age 4). He makes a mean sauerkraut, loves riding his bike to work on Pittsburgh’s North Side, and imagines a world where local food is on everyone’s table.

Neil Stauffer is a seasoned veteran of farming and local food distribution. He was the first general manager of Penns Corner Farm Alliance in Pittsburgh, PA which was an alliance of 30 farms across southwestern Pennsylvania. He has worked as a farmer on multiple farms over the years. He brings his deep experience of distribution and connections to local food producers across the region to his current role as general manager of Harvie Farms Pittsburgh.

Resources and mentions

Website – www.harvie.farm

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/harviefarms/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/harviefarms/

And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!

We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, what to look for in a farm property, etc), which you can download here.