outside the farm
Kent Deimeke delivers farm products
direct to customers
Deimeke mans several barbeque grills to cook bratwurst for meals
he caters to for a large Fulton company. Nearly everything that
Family Farm Foods sells is produced on the Deimeke farm.
Unlike most backyard
chefs who grill on weekends, Kent Deimeke cooks on Mondays — and
not just a few bratwurst for friends and family. Surrounded by several
gas barbeque grills setup on his driveway, Kent grills dozens of brats
to feed employees of a company in nearby Fulton. So begins another
work week for Kent, a modern breed of Missouri farmer and entrepreneur
who, along with his wife, Lori, is redefining how people in central
Missouri buy food.
A traditional livestock
producer and grain farmer who grew up on a family farm near Martinsburg
in Audrain County, Kent realized he was working too hard for too little
“I just wasn’t making ends meet selling calves in town,” Kent
says. “I’ve been farming and in the cattle business all my life
but I just wasn’t happy with the farm’s cash flow.”
County farmer Kent Deimeke, not satisfied with traditional ways
to market his cattle, began having his beef processed locally
and sells it directly to customers. He also caters meals and
sells a line of packaged meals, spices and even baked goods.
His goal is to sell only products made on his farm.
began to think of ways to make more income from his sweat and toil. That
was five years ago and today his company, Family Farm Foods, sells
meat, vegetables, eggs and chickens, caters meals for companies and
community events, offers tours of the Deimeke farm for groups and even
features a bed and breakfast inn for guests.
And it all began
with looking for a way to sell things produced on the farm directly
we know had asked about buying meat directly from us so we started
trying to sell sides of beef,” says
Kent, who now lives and farms near Shamrock in Callaway County. “We
quickly realized that most people couldn’t afford $700 for a side
of beef but maybe they could afford a hundred dollars worth.”
and his wife bought a trailer, installed a freezer in it and began selling
cuts of meat at farmers’ markets in Jefferson City and Columbia.
At first they were met with skepticism.
when we would pull up with a trailer full of frozen meat and other
farmers selling fruit and vegetables would look at us like, ‘Who
are the new guys in town?’ At first we didn’t sell a lot,
but we handed out a lot of brochures and samples of our beef sticks
and jerky and slowly people started buying and coming back to buy more.
They would tell us ours was the best bratwurst they’d ever had
or our T-bone steaks were so good. We soon had a regular clientele.”
|Kent and his
daughter Gabriel visit with customers in Mexico while taking their
orders. He says his personal approach to selling his products,
as well as the quality of his food, has made his Family Farms Food
years ago Kent starting doing something unheard of for a small farmer.
He began delivering meat to his customers’ doorsteps. At first
it was just in the winter months when the farmers’ markets
were closed, but soon Kent was making deliveries all over central
Missouri year around. He became so busy that last year he stopped
visiting the farmers’ market circuit and now
delivers most of his meat, traveling three days a week to Mexico,
Columbia, Jefferson City and as far away as St. Charles. While on
his travels he also keeps more than 40 convenient stores stocked
with his own beef sticks and jerky, all made from cattle raised on
Kent sells summer
sausage, ground beef, stew meat, ribs and just about every cut of steak
imaginable as well as his own line of meat seasonings and spices. He
also sells frozen ready-made meals like spaghetti and chili. This year
he added frozen pizzas to his menu. “We’re selling the
fire out of our pizzas,” says Kent.
And when Kent’s
not delivering meat he’s likely catering a local
event. On a recent weekend he served several hundred people at
a nearby rodeo. “I
can feed 600, 700 people at one time,” the Callaway Electric
Cooperative member says.
and his daughter Gabriel deliver meat and eggs to a business
in Mexico. A few of Kent’s regular business customers have
even bought freezers for employees to keep their meat in.
Farmily Farm Foods’ best
selling catered meal is roast beef and gravy, salad, green beans, homemade
bread and pecan pie, all grown, produced or baked on the Deimeke
farm. He’s catered weddings, family reunions, motorcycle
rallies and other events.
When the Deimekes
built a new 7,000-square-foot house on the farm last year they included
space for a small store as well as a commercial kitchen. The home also
houses offices for Lori’s crop insurance
business as well as their bed and breakfast inn.
Not satisfied with
having just meat and pork processed and packaged, Kent continues to
look for ways to wring a profit out of the farm. He raises chickens
and sells fresh eggs and fryers. He sells fresh tomatoes, already packaged,
to area grocery stores and grows several acres of sweet corn.
his family’s success has come from hard work, a willingness
to take risks and offering the best products he can produce.
the meat business you have to gain people’s trust. I want
people to come out to farm and see our operation, see how I raise
several days a week delivering his products to customers from Columbia
to St. Charles. The family’s farm house is also a bed and
breakfast inn and they offer hay rides and tours of their operation.
Kent says consumers
today are more concerned than ever with where and how their food is
produced. Along with two full-time farm hands, he raises cattle without
using any medicines, growth hormones or other chemicals and he also
produces all his own corn, hay and silage. Nearly every
input that goes into his cattle he produces himself and
the results are high quality meat.
The results have
been a steady increase in loyal customers and a growing reputation,
says Kent. He does not advertise, but instead relies on the word of
mouth to spread the news.
“If you’ve got something that
tastes good and people know what they’re
eating and where it’s coming from, they’ll
pay a premium,” Kent
Family Farm Foods is located between Auxvasse and
Montgomery City in Callaway County. For more information
call the Deimekes at (573) 386-5368 or visit their
Web site at www.familyfarmfoods.com.