Makenna Mays, Whitewater Publications, Brookville IN-
There are many reasons that people have embraced the farm to table movement. People can see how it directly affects their community when they buy local products. In farm to table, they also
experience what happens when they have a relationship with a farmer and a greater understanding of where their food comes from.
Last week, we learned about the history of Beneker Family Farms, a Centennial Homestead farm in Franklin County, that is spearheading this movement locally to help provide families with farm fresh food.
“I think what's interesting to people about farm to table is how it connects local communities to actual farmers,” said Jayme Beneker. “They can get veggies and milk from the farmer down the road, and meat and eggs from the farmer next door.”
Beneker explained that farm to table is not just a food concept, but a process that plays a role in agricultural sustainability. Farmers must be good stewards of their land. They have to put plans in place to make sure their land can continue being productive. To ensure sustainability, the Benekers view their farming operation as a small business as well.
“Farmers are lifelong students of agriculture and business, they have to manage risks, pivot and make decisions quickly,” said Beneker.
This business model came to a head during the Covid pandemic when grocery stores did not have meat while livestock and other farm products that were market ready, could not physically get to store shelves.
“Those who found us learned that if you a knew a farmer, there was no meat shortage, said Beneker. “It was at this moment that we were especially thankful we had been shifting our focus to our customers, and that we were able to supply beef to so many families during that time.”
As the Benekers began learning more about their customers, they began to see there were more things they could do for the community.
In 2019 they partnered with Ginnie Faller, business advisor with the Indiana Small Business and Development Center, and began collaborating with a new processor to expand on their product.
This Old Farm Meats and Processing has helped Beneker Family Farms create portion sizes that are healthy for everyday eating, and new beef cuts that go beyond typical processing requests. Their research and development team has also helped the Benekers to refine their products such as smoked beef bacon, mild Italian seasoned ground beef, country beef jerky, beef brats and their shredded beef. Beneker Family Farm products are premium packaged as well as USDA inspected.
While navigating the food shortages in 2020, new opportunities started to take shape for Beneker Family Farms. Many families became accustomed to services that deliver food directly to their doorstep, which is where the Benekers got their idea for a food subscription service.
Beneker explained how they want to help other families and professionals out there who are busy juggling a lot of things. She wanted to create a place they could go to get their beef and also ideas about what they could make with it.
Beneker Family Farms started this by developing the “Beneker Beef Meal Kit” with their beef products. Their kits have a variety of cuts from steaks to pre-cut meats and ground beef. The meal kits
also include a spice kit from Nashville Spice Company, located in Brown County, that has roots in the St. Leon area. The spice kit coordinates with recipes and grocery lists included in the
Next, they spent time developing another kit called the “Beef Basics Box.” It includes the same variety of cuts and access to a private online recipe bank that they developed. Here subscribers can download recipes for the specific cuts in their box.
Last but not least, the “Ground Beef” kit was added for those who love to eat ground beef.
In the spring of 2021, Beneker Family Farms applied for a USDA grant to help them get their subscription kits off the ground. In the meantime, they worked to streamline their shipping and delivery process, and partnered with Steele Digital Marketing, who has played an integral role in helping them bring the subscription idea to life. In the fall, they were awarded the Value-Added Producer Grant to help them with their launch.
“With our launch of the subscription kits in December, we now offer another option for people to get high quality local beef products delivered directly from our farm to their doorstep,” said Beneker. “And you never have to be without a meal idea.”
In next week's edition of the Brookville Democrat/American, our final installation of the Beneker Family Farm series will tell you what to expect and how to order from the Benekers.