News from the Farm and Big Red Barn
Friends Drift Inn Foods is gearing up for the spring season at the farm – as well as at events, festivals, and community building events.
We have been going at it so hard getting ready for spring shows, the Appalachian Heirloom Seed Swap, and the spring planting season we almost forgot to get you updated! No slacking here – just busy and in a tizzy!
Joyce Pinson, Friends Drift Inn
We have been in the CANE Kitchen every weekend in February cooking jam like crazy!
Big News – We will be at the Kentucky Crafted Market in Lexington, KY March 13-15.
Hard to believe we made nearly 3,000 jars of jam in February – hoping to keep up with demand!
We are small – but growing a good life in Appalachia!
When the Kentucky Arts Council called for applications last year, we were not sure we were ready to participate. The showcase generally draws 8,000 people over the course of three days.
We hemmed and hawed around. We waited too late and got put on a waiting list.
But as luck would have it, we were accepted to participate!
It is exciting and an honor to be included – but boy howdy we have sure worked hard to get ready!
In addition to shopping for fine art and craft, visitors can enjoy musical performances, sample regional food products, participate in hands-on activities, and explore Kentucky arts and culture through special exhibits.
The Market is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday March 14 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday March 15 to the general public. Wholesale buyers with credentials can attend a special viewing on Friday, March 13.
Wish us luck! If you are in Lexington, stop by our booth at the Alltech Arena – Kentucky Horse Park. We would love to see y’all.
What Did We Do in February?
The Eastern Kentucky Farmer Think Tank
Being Appalachia Proud, part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud program, Friends Drift Inn focuses on building opportunities in the coalfields.
We were chosen to participate in the Eastern Kentucky Farmer Think Tank event put together by the USDA, Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Governor’s Office on Agricultural Policy, Kentucky State University and Grow Appalachia.
It is kind of a big deal – as less than a dozen were selected!
Part pitch presentation, part one-on-one mentoring by the experts, we were given 15 minutes to explain our business, our mission, and our challenges and goals.
In turn, the panel offered suggestions and resources for scaling up our business.
It took time to prepare the power point presentation, and the accompanying business documents. It took time to put together samples and sales materials. It took time to drive the two hours to the event.
Y’all when you are a food entrepreneur and farmer, time is sometimes more precious than money!
That said, we polished up our presentations for future events. We also got valuable feedback from the panelists, as we prepare to seek out investors and grants.
Y’all building a business is a process – and putting every steppingstone in place takes time! You and your business are worth it!
Meet the Buyers – Speed Dating for Sales Partners
The Kentucky Horticultural Council and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture teamed up to present a “Meet the Buyers” event in Morehead, KY. The purpose was to bring farmers, value-added producers and buyers together to see if partnerships were possible.
Buyers were set-up and individual tables, and producers were expected to “work the room” going from table to table.
We were prepared with samples and with “sale sheets” listing the virtues of our gourmet jams on one side, and a wholesale list on the other.
This was definitely a different experience for us, and we learned!
Cooked jam. Labeled jam. Packed jam. We hustled to get plenty of stock ready for the Kentucky Crafted Market.
Participate in the Second Annual Bourbon and Spirits Winterfest here in Pikeville, featuring distilleries and bourbon related products and tastings.
Preparing for Shows – What Does it Take?
Part of our mission is to share some of the nuts and bolts of our business, in hopes we will inspire others (especially in Appalachia) to establish new businesses in our region.
Here is the thing……
I love making jam! My happy place is the kitchen.
I like tradeshows and festivals too – AFTER we get there and are set-up. Preparations wear me out!
A booth may seem like something you can just “throw up” but lots of sweat and brain power goes into participating in an event!
Our checklist looks something like this:
- Pay fees to set-up at event
- Send fees to local health department for permission to sample products
- Book hotel rooms
- Send out press releases, newsletters, social media blasts, and schedule tv/radio appearances
- Clean and press tablecloths and branded banners
- Create professional “sell sheets” for wholesale buyers
- Make point-of-purchase shelf-talkers for event sales promos
- Clean and polish all displays and props. Find my big red hat!
- Pack up tasting spoons, wastebasket, tables, duct tape, wet wipes, paper towels, shelving, and a couple hundred cases of jam.
- Have plenty of change! Charge the cash register.
- Charge up phones for social media shares.
- Wear comfortable shoes to stand in for 8-10 hours each day. (Most events are 2 days)
After hours and hours of smiling, talking, and selling – break the display down and drive two or three hours to get home.
Pretty glamorous huh?
Kentucky Crafted Market – March 14-15 Alltech Arena, Kentucky Horse Park Lexington KY
Appalachian Seed Swap – Pikeville, KY First Saturday in April
Kentucky Proud Market Morehead, KY April
Hillbilly Days – Pikeville KY April
Kentucky Proud Winefest – Louisville May
Each month we post a Friends Drift Inn Farm update. You can see the 2020 versions on our Farm page.