After founding Freedom Run Farm, one of the first challenges that Valerie met was marketing her product. This is an issue that any small-scale agricultural producer runs into, and finding a way to overcome this is critical for long term success. The Lamb Association of America has a meager marketing budget, which is about half of what New Zealand spends marketing its product to Americans. With limited resources and support, and competing against the big dollars, Valerie knew she had to do something to create a new way for her to help bring this amazing lamb to market.
After studying how other small-scale agricultural producers (cheese, produce, livestock) overcame these challenges, there was one solution that made the most since—create a consortium.
A consortium is similar to a collective, or co-op of producers, who work together to bring their product to market under one brand.
This has numerous positive effects on all of the businesses, and the reason is quite simple—there is power in numbers. Each member of the Freedom Run Farm Consortium follows the same rigid standards of sustainably pasture-raised Katahdin sheep. Our program consists of shared performance genetics, nutritional program and management practices. Working together, we have perfected our production method to ensure consistency, product availability, and premium quality.
Additionally, the consortium allows the collective of shepherds to pool their resources to help market their product. This means things like consumer education, packaging, and print materials (even this very website) would be hard for one small farm to accomplish; but together, they can create the messaging and marketing needed to successfully build the consumer base needed to sustain individual small family farms—and tell the world how unique and delicious their lamb is!
The FRF consortium allows shepherds who might not otherwise want to risk moving into sustainable agriculture feel that they are being supported and have a greater chance at success. The end result is two-fold. First, more and more farms are shepherding lamb, restoring an important piece of Kentucky agricultural heritage. And secondly, by helping to support these shepherds and proving that a market exists for pasture-raised lamb, more producers are switching to a model that is sustainable and abides by good agricultural practices.