MONTVALE, Va. (WFXR) — Farmers face obstacles on almost daily basis. Issues like weather, illness, inflation, or wars thousands of miles away that send fuel prices soaring are just part of modern farming life. How farmers deal with those hurdles goes a long way to determining long term success and profitability.
Sometimes what appear to be obstacles are actually avenues to opportunity.
“March of 2020 is when we started,” said Melody Divers, co-owner of Chapel Creek Farms in Montvale, while discussing her farm’s decision to directly market its beef by the cut to consumers. “We just wanted to see if people liked it. As it is now, we have two big freezers and we’re well-stocked, and that in itself turned into offering beef shares.”
The pandemic forced many people to isolate and avoid crowds. Rather than go to a grocery store, some people went directly to farmers. Realizing the potential for a new market for their beef. The idea took off. Divers co-owns Chapel Creek Farms with her husband Johnny Divers. He says they have sold 30-thousand pounds of beef directly to customers.
“It was definitely a pivot,” added Melody Divers, speaking about the decision to add the direct customer base, but one that has paid off.
The Divers have roughly 900 head of cattle on their farm. The Hereford-Angus crosses are all grass-fed or grass-finished. While changing and adapting contributes to Chapel Farm’s success, so is planning. That means staying on top of current events, trends, and weather conditions.
“We’re planning two years in advance for our beef share program,” explained Melody Divers. “We’re always working two years ahead. I am with the calendar and the customers, and Johnny is with the herd itself.”
“We pretty much knew a year ago that fertilizer prices would double,” added Johnny Divers. “We started getting (chicken) litter hauled in here last August, September through December to get caught up for this.”
Chapel Creek Farms is one of the few farms in Virginia that sells individual cuts of meat to consumers. Melody and Johnny say it is a matter of knowing their customers and developing a personal relationship with them.
“You know about their family, you know if they’re going through anything,” Melody Divers said. ” It’s just a good time to get to know the people in your community, an our bridge to getting to know them is through selling them beef.”