Fifteen years ago, it was unheard of for a small farm to sell beef to a supermarket. But today, thanks to Diana Endicott and several projects supported by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Educatioan grants (SARE), over 100 farmers in the Kansas City area supply 30 supermarkets, with meats, fruits, vegetables and specialty goods.
Diana and Gary Endicott began raising natural food and beef cattle in 1995 with an emphasis on sustainable practices and food free of antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. Within two years of starting their farm, the Endicotts realized that if they and their neighbors were going to be successful, they needed to work together to provide product in the quantities that grocery stores require.
That was the beginning of Good Natured Family Farms cooperative – family farmers and ranchers in Kansas and Missouri who supply beef, free-range chicken and eggs, milk in glass bottles, farmhouse cheeses and tomatoes, among others. Their meat is labeled “all-natural,” a USDA-approved claim specifying the ranchers use no growth-enhancing hormones, sub-therapeutic antibiotics or animal by-products.
Producing and marketing beef in a cooperative allows the ranchers to get paid for the added value of beef produced without such supplements — while sharing risk, knowledge and profits. Being part of the co-op also allows farmers and ranchers to focus on their farms and products rather on the marketing of it.
Check out the video below for information on how the Co-op developed.
As Diana says in the video, Good Natured Family Farms cooperative serves as an example of how a community can be productive and build a livelihood from the land. If you’d like to learn more, check out the chapter on this project in SARE’s book “The New American Farmer. If you’d like to follow in the co-op’s footsteps, the project overview.
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