Our goal is to help develop modern, pasture-based food production systems for local and regional retail markets. Our strategy includes:
- Farmer-controlled food brands and marketing programs that maximize local farm income
- Capital and operating plans that account for the full costs of humane animal care, planned wildlife habitat, fair wages and safe working conditions
- Working partnerships with local investors, units of government, educational institutions, food companies, labor unions and cooperatives
Starting with our Bennington farm, we are developing business partnerships with farmers and investors. These new companies will be supported by professional agronomists and experienced marketers. We are also inviting rural and urban communities in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa to learn about local food partnerships. These free (no cost) community development programs will introduce Slow Money principals to residents, farmers, landowners and investors.
Sustainability in agriculture certainly requires that we adopt organic, Biodynamic and other holistic methods. However, food system sustainability also requires local growers to increase sales in measurable ways in order to attract local investors. More sales and better financing are essential because restaurants, CSA’s and farmers markets do not provide the free cash needed to expand our local food systems.
Given this reality, our mission is to develop practical farm management, marketing and financing tools for sustainable growers. Although the path to local food security starts at farmers markets and on the back steps of locally owned restaurants, we (farmers, community members, landowners and investors) need and want commercial-scale sustainable food ventures that can supply area retail markets.
However, before we can earn our retail shelf space, we must learn to compete with Earth Bound Farms, Organic Valley and the many other non-local companies that have the size and marketing power to dominate the retail space in the Omaha area. If we do not learn to compete for retail customers in our own trade area, we will never develop the economic strength to create living wage jobs and reclaim our soils, water and wildlife habitat.
We are influenced by E.F. Shumacher, Wendell Berry, Woody Tasch and many others, including my late father, Bob Steffen.
Bob Steffen, circa 1975
Dad was the farm manager for Father Flanagan at Boys Town for thirty years and a leader in developing large scale natural and organic farming methods for the Midwest. Our challenge now is to find the economies of scale that lie between Small is Beautiful and the realities of the established food system – all without ignoring the real needs of land, labor, capital and management.
Please contact me, Jim Steffen, at email@example.com or 402-317-2639 to learn more about sustainable food systems.
Note: The pictures on this page are courtesy of the Boys Town Hall of History.