Author: Susan Kerr, WSU Klickitat County Extension Director
Publish Date: Spring 2011
GateWay Farms began for David and Renee Kreinbring five years ago with an 80-acre parcel west of Goldendale, WA. The initial plan was to raise lambs and pigs, but instead the plan became to produce South African Boer goats. The foundation herd was eight does a buck and a few wethers. Renee reflects, “What did we know about goats, anyway.”
Nature being what it is, the kids began coming. The Kreinbrings liked the goats but didn’t really know what to do with them. To get some help and direction, they joined a newly-formed group for goat producers called the Columbia Basin Goat Guild (CBGG). Through the CBGG, Renee met Mary Wilson, a fellow local goat enthusiast who was raising Kiko breeding stock and meat goats. Mary and Renee both agreed they wanted more from our farms then just raising goats—there had to be a market for them so the farm could be profitable: otherwise what was the purpose?
GateWay Farms began to sell at the farmer’s market in The Dalles, OR in 2008. They found some customers interested in buying goat meat and were excited about that. They joined the Gorge Grown Food Network and began to sell in the Hood River, OR farmers market as well. They noticed they didn’t get a lot of traffic at their booth if they only had closed coolers of meat. Realizing they needed to draw some attention to their booth, they started making and offering jams, sauces and chutneys as well. It worked! More customers began to come to their booth and they began to sell more goat meat.
Mary and Renee participated in the Women in Agriculture program offered in Goldendale in 2009-2010 and then in the Mid-Columbia Farm Enterprise Investigation Series offered by WSU and OSU Extension in White Salmon, WA; both programs were funded by the Western Center for Risk Management Education. Renee says “We learned so much, including the need to have many revenue streams so if one is negatively impacted the others can fill the in space. With all this information, we decided to broaden our livestock to include beef, pork, chicken, turkeys and eggs.”
During this growth period, Mary Wilson, David Oshner and David and Renee Kreinbring formed a partnership called Little Farms, LLC. Being an LLC is a wise risk management decision. This business structure protects all partners’ personal assets from any claims brought against the corporation.
Little Farms now offers a meat CSA that provides customers with 23 lbs. of a variety of meat plus eggs by delivery on a monthly basis. They also offer turkeys and specialty sauces on a seasonal basis. Customers can order specific cuts of meat or jams, sauces, or chutneys on-line from www.littlefarms.org. They make deliveries to customers in the Stevenson, Vancouver, Portland, Troutdale, and Cascade Locks area on the second Friday of each month and to Lyle, Bingen, Hood River, Mosier, The Dalles, Dallesport and Goldendale customers on the third Friday of each month.
The CSA has increased Little Farms’ client base and has given the partners the opportunity to get to know their customers on a personal level. Due to increased business, they have begun to use a co-packer to produce their most popular jams and chutneys. These products can be found at the Hood River and The Dalles Farmers Markets and at the “Everybody’s Business” cooperative store in Goldendale. Little Farms, LLC isn’t resting on its laurels. The partners are working with the county Planning Department and state departments of Ecology, Health and Animal Health to build a WSDA-certified poultry processing facility.
The goal is to have a processing facility that will be able to process up to 20,000 birds annually. They believe such a facility is very much needed in the area. It would benefit many in the community who want to sell birds at Farmers’ Markets and specialty stores but are unable to do so due to restrictions in home processing regulations.
The road from GateWay Farms to Little Farms, LLC was influenced by education, experience, advice, marketing, trial-and-error, demographics, goals, preferences, reality, re-visioning, re-structuring and friendship. By diversifying its offerings and providing high-quality products through a convenient CSA, the partners may find the need to change their farm name again—they won’t be Little for long!