8 Questions with Kate Haverkampf of Tassinong Farms
One of the best parts of being part of the Freight Farms team is talking to our freight farmers and hearing about their successes, their businesses, their customers, and their challenges. They are a wealth of information, so now we are sharing some of their stories with you!
Kate Haverkampf of Tassinong Farms is providing the community of Crested Butte, Colorado with fresh produce year-round. In terms of location, Kate is one of our most extreme farmers, growing at an elevation of 8,885 feet. Crested Butte has less than ideal growing conditions, so the food available there is often shipped from hundreds to even thousands of miles away. Kate was motivated to start farming because she wanted to supply her region with local, fresh produce. We recently spoke with Kate about her experience as a freight farmer and the ways in which it has impacted her community.
Freight Farms (FF): What, if any was your experience with farming before becoming a Freight Farmer?
Kate Haverkampf (KH): Before becoming a freight farmer, my closest connection to farming was the nine generations of farmers in my family. I spent holidays at my grandmother's, uncle's and godfathers' farms, played in the barns, wandered around the corn fields but never really did any actual farming. I was a real beginner!
FF: Who do you sell to and how do you sell to them?
KH: I sell to restaurants, bars, caterers and local residents within 20 miles of my farm. I like to stay "hyper-local." I have standing orders that are pre-arranged with restaurants and bars. My website offers residents the ability to order on a week to week basis. Caterers text, call or email me when they are looking to order.
FF: What kinds of crops do you grow?
KH: I grow different varieties of lettuce: Alkindus Butterhead, Muir Greenleaf, Coastal Star Romaine, Truchas Romaine, and Sylvestra Butterhead. I also grow Toscano Kale, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Sorrel and Edible Violets. Occasionally I experiment with new types of lettuce as well.
FF: What’s the best piece of advice you can give to people interested in becoming Freight Farmers?
KH: Three things: 1.) Give yourself at least one year to turn a profit and consider waiting if that timeframe seems too long. 2.) You are going to mess up and make mistakes, and that is okay. Give yourself six months to feel comfortable understanding the workings of the farm and Agrotek programming. 3.) Do not promise your customer specific yields when they first sign on based on what your farm should be able to grow. Commit to conservative yields while you're learning, and then once you become an expert you can increase what you can sell them. Issues will occur, and you don't want to be always calling them when you are newly operating and having to tell them you cannot deliver what you promised.
FF: What’s your favorite crop and why?
KH: Alkindus Butterhead - it is so yummy, crispy, colorful!
FF: How has urban agriculture improved or impacted the lives of people in your community?
KH: A great example is as follows: I have a friend with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old boy. Both boys and her husband don't like vegetables. Ever since they tried my mixed greens, the boys and the husband love salads and will only eat my mixed greens. That is a great example of why I am doing this. To get my local community to love greens again that are fresh, local and always the best quality.
FF: What are your plans for the future?
KH: We'll be adding two new farms to make a total of four by the beginning of summer 2017. We'll also be adding a retail storefront that will sell my product and other local produce. In the evening it will be a small wine bar and craft beer lounge where my product and other tasty appetizers will be served.
FF: What reaction do you typically get from people when you tell them what you do for a living?
KH: They have so many questions and are genuinely curious about how it all works. They especially like to learn that I transitioned to a new career and I think they feel inspired that they can do it, too, if they choose.