‘Dolan Farms,’ One Of Many Brilliant Businesses Part of Community Farmers Market Bowling Green.

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Friday, February 22nd, 2013 9:00 AM CST

The thing we love about these segments profiling the vendors at Community Farmer’s Market is that we get to see the entrepreneurial spirit and brilliance of the local market in action. People taking their dreams and with hard work start to fulfill it. Dolan Farms is our feature this week and Steve Dolan shares their story with us:

“Our family came to Bowling green in 2003 through a job transfer from central Alabama. My immediate family pretty much got out of farming during WWII. My mothers side were subsistence farmers and my dads side were sharecroppers. About the only farm exposure I got growing up was when we went to visit relatives that still lived on farms.

When we moved to Bowling Green I was hoping to find property that would allow me to somehow return to my families roots of agriculture. After we relocated and found a house, the property behind us came up for sale. after a couple of years we managed to purchase the parcel which is approx. 26 acres. As soon as the weather permitted I started to do fence work and field renovation and started with 5 steers. My initial intent was to just sell most of them to other folks that wanted beef and keep one for myself, but as I kept going, and learning I decided to try for more. I was selling steers outright to folks for stocking their freezers, when the recession started in 2009 I lost almost all of my customer base due to people relocating because of their job situations.

I had worked for GM and this is where all my customers were. Trying to replace my customers was proving to be much harder considering the economy. I had read about the Community Farmers Market in a newspaper article regarding the winter market. I went there on one Saturday, met Nathan Howell, and was immediately impressed by the open and free way that he provided information and by his encouragement.
I then went to my processor, Johns custom meats, in Smiths Grove, found out what I needed to do to be able to sell beef retail, direct to the public, which is completely different than selling a live beef cow to an individual.
As the spring rolled around I had my first steer processed for retail sale, which by law must be done under full USDA inspection, and came to the market in April and set up. Not being an outgoing person, I had very high anxiety levels at the beginning trying to communicate to people at the market what I was offering. The customers were very patient and extremely interested in learning as much as they could about what they were purchasing.

At this point I need to convey how important my processor  (John’s Custom Meat) is. My beef is dry aged usually, 28 days. True dry aging is becoming a forgotten art when it comes to quality beef processing. John Rediess, is a 5th generation butcher who turns good beef into truly exceptional beef through his vast knowledge and experience, and Amy Sipes, cuts and packages my beef in sizes that are well received by customers.

As far as the market goes, it is truly a pleasure to be there on Saturdays. There is a sense of not only community, but of family too. I have never felt as if i am competing with the other two beef vendors, but hopefully complimenting them and their products to make our market the best for all our customers. The highest honor i could ever hope to receive is to be considered a farmer by the other more experienced lifetime farmers there.
One of the things i enjoy the most about market is when a customer makes eye contact, walks over and wants to tell me how they prepared the particular cut of beef they bought the week before. This is another thing that makes the relationships between vendors and customers more special. The fact that people are trusting me and other vendors to provide their families with quality, safe, and nutritious meats, vegetables, and produce speaks volumes.  I am currently doing some moving of a fence corner to make room for Needs more Acres CSA use. I am offering approx. 2 acres for Nathan Howell to use for his CSA and to serve as a hands on classroom for me to learn some of his planting and growing techniques.
I hope and plan on being a member of community farmers market a long time, expanding my offerings into more vegetables and anything that might add value to the overall market experience.”

Check out Community Farmers Market facebook page. We look forward to working with ‘Community Farmers’ Market’  A great place to make your food that much better. Plus check out Meltdown {simply delectable iced cream} facebook page.

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