By Mike Barnett
I wandered the Cedar Park Farmers Market in Austin recently and found every kind of agriculture product under the sun.
Of course there were the standard “fresh” tomatoes and other “local” food.
But a young couple was making good money selling “sustainable” bean sprouts and micro-greens. Another was selling “organic” fresh meat—everything from duck to rabbit to beef and pork—cut up, packaged and ready to cook.
There was even a lady selling “grass-fed” pops, a popsicle made with milk from dairy cows that apparently were not fed grain. Each to their own.
What really impressed me was a young man from Central Texas who runs a small herd of dairy cows and markets the “natural” milk in a variety of ways. A family business, the dairy sells fresh milk at farmers markets not only in Austin, but in Waco and Clifton as well. The family bottles their own low-heat pasteurized milk, which reminds me of the milk I used to drink as a kid, with the cream floating on top.
But this young man takes his business many steps further. The family makes many varieties of cheese and offers them for sale. They provide milk for a young lady who makes fresh yogurt, with cross promotion between the two. The dairy even provides the base milk products for a company that makes ice cream in the Austin area. They’re thinking about opening up a retail site at their dairy.
Business is booming for this young entrepreneur. In fact, it was booming across the market as vendors used foodie buzz words, quality products and face-time with consumers to market their wares.
Are bean sprouts, local food, specialty meats and grass-fed popsicles going to feed the world? No. But they serve a niche market for affluent people with money to burn, who are putting cash in the pockets of these people who are thinking outside of the box when it comes to agriculture.
Sounds like a win-win situation for these young entrepreneurs and the market they serve. As my blogging partner Gene Hall is fond of saying, there’s room under this big tent called agriculture for everyone!