…is to become their customer. We learnt this around 5 or so years ago, right before we ventured into farming ourselves, when we created the crowdfunded meat startup, Crowd Carnivore. We spoke to and met with many an inspiring farmer across Australia who expressed interest in becoming a Crowd Carnivore supplier. It was here we learnt that if you give a farmer a market, he will meet that market. It ultimately all comes down to you.
Food production in Australia is predominantly market driven, or at least it can be. If there is a market for sustainably produced, regeneratively-farmed, pasture-raised produce, there is guaranteed to be a farmer ready and willing to work their arses off 18 hours a day to meet that market, or to make that transition with your support.
After the NYE fire of 2019 tore through our farm in Quaama, just south of Cobargo, our minds went straight into recovery mode. How much damage is there? How are we going to rebuild? Can we still farm chicken? Can we still farm at all? How loooong is this insurance process going to take? Can we crowdfund a solution?
In the early weeks, we came to the realisation that crowdfunding was probably not an honest route to take at that point in time. It just took a long, long time to work out which way was up, let alone assess the damage, insurance, and develop a plan for recovery. There were animal welfare considerations to deal with, safety concerns to address and ongoing threats to mitigate before we could even begin an assessment, and develop a plan. As it was, it took a couple of months before we were even able to stabilise the power to determine whether there were any further damages to the abattoir. A crowdfunding campaign in such uncertain and unstable times would have added even further stress in an extremely stressful situation and would have ended up disastrous. It was a wise choice, as not long after the entire world was turned upside down due to a pandemic and recovery slowed-the-hell down, right when we really needed it to speed up.
But we kept reminding ourselves that it was OK. Because we knew that we would reach a point when we would have enough certainty to confidently announce our return to business and to ask for consumers to become our customers. We knew that when we were ready, we could ask for your support, and that you’d be there.
10 long, long months later, we have finally reached that point. We had no idea what to expect in the aftermath of this disaster and no idea that recovery would take this long. But we are now ready to ask for your support. Two short months ahead of the one-year anniversary, and I have absolutely no idea how the longest 10 months of our lives managed to fly by so quickly!
In February 2019 we developed a recovery plan to build back better as our government declared support for, to be more resilient, and more productive. However 8 months later we were rejected for any State government administered loan we applied for in order to execute that plan, for reasons we’re unable to comprehend. (Sidebar, I have my suspicions that had a loan assessor had their boots on the ground walking through our vision and our plan for execution on the farm with us, instead of at a cubical or even the dining table with their yelling kids in the background on pandemic leave, possibly things may have turned out differently. Ah, I digress…) Whilst this outcome has changed our execution strategy, it has not changed our vision.
We are sensibly balancing building back the business with rebuilding the farm. It's a pace we're not accustomed to working at, but these are part of the lessons of 2020. Our goals are to produce monthly batches of 1000 chickens across the next 3 months whilst rebuild continues in the background, in order to support our customers, our staff and ourselves as best we can. We've been working hard in the background on many different production efficiencies in order to maximise our chance of success and limit the number of things that can go wrong or slow us down. We’ll reassess our re-build progress at this point, after which our scale and growth will depend, you guessed it, on you, the customer.
I want to take the opportunity to thank you. Thank you for checking in. Thank you for offering your support. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for sharing our frustrations. Thank you for your patience, now, and over the next few months. I know, it’s not our strong point either! We are ready to ask for your support. We are ready for you to become our customer. We are ready to make meaningful change to our food systems, to our animals, to our soils, to our supply chains and to human health.
Are you ready to be part of the (re)evolution?