This website is about developing commercial-scale organic (regenerative) food systems for the residents of Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City and surrounding rural areas. These regional farm and food networks will be supported by farmer-owned retail food brands, including our own Raised Free brand. Each brand will be backed by local and regional financing to ensure fair returns to farmers, ranchers and investors, with living wages and benefits for farm hands and food industry workers.
These multi-product “diversified” food systems will integrate finance, marketing, processing and distribution, all managed by and for farmers, ranchers and investors. Key operational elements include:
• Local Production Cooperatives
• A Regional Marketing Cooperative
• Multi-Species Processing for Beef, Pork and Poultry
• One or More Regional Farmland Trusts
• Multiple Farmer-Owned Retail Food Brands
Page 2 on this website has more on “diversified” agriculture. Pages 3, 4 and 5 explain our approach to financing and marketing.
Farmers and ranchers near Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City are invited to help develop cooperative marketing and financing services to support producer-owned retail food brands.
We also invite qualified investors, elected officials and food industry representatives to discuss our business model.
The ideas offered on this website start with my late father, Bob Steffen. He was the farm manager for Father Flanagan at Boys Town for thirty years and a leader in developing commercial-scale organic and Biodynamic farming methods in the Midwest. In later life, Dad sold Biodynamic produce to local restaurants in Omaha. He introduced me to many holistic thinkers, including E.F. Shumacher, Wendell Berry and Alan Savory.
After a lifetime in and around organic farming, my current interests are in attracting qualified investors to farmer-owned food brands. These brands will be tied to pasture-based food systems that are big enough to supply upscale grocery stores and restaurants in near-by cities. On financing, Woody Tasch and his Slow Money Movement along with Michael Shuman, the author of Local Dollars, Local Sense offer excellent information on the economic potential of local food systems.
Our challenge now is to find the economies of scale that lie between “too small to make money” and the realities of the established food system – all without ignoring the real needs of land, labor, capital and management.