Gathering: Dinner in Santa Fe
The fourth and final stop of the Farm Experience Series is the Kindred Farm. Kindred farm is an organic farm that was founded in 2016 by Steven & Christine Bailey in Santa Fe, Tennessee. The Kindred Farm's main crop is organic lettuce, and the couple also grows a variety of heirloom vegetables, and raises hens and hogs. Located just an hour south of Nashville, the farm is also a hub for delicious homemade eats like cinnamon rolls and jams that are sold in the Farm Store. We interviewed Steven Bailey to learn more about farm experiences at The Kindred Farm. Keep reading to find out how the Baileys started their organic farm and created a memorable farm gathering through the Kindred Dinners.
Before moving to Tennessee, the Bailey’s lived in Dallas, Texas where they started a co-op in 2009. By 2013 their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business had grown to over 2,000 families. They sold the business in 2015 and decided to try their hand at farming of their own when they moved to Tennessee. In developing The Kindred Farm, Steven was inspired by the work of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm and J.M. Fortier of Les Jardin de la Grelinette. Steven describes both men as the “poster child” for being profitable in small agriculture. As they developed a strategy for their farm, The Bailey's knew that their strengths were in marketing and distribution. They used personal contacts and state resources to assist them in other areas of the farm development. They worked with farmers for several years while operating their CSA in Texas and those contacts shared their advice. Locally in Tennessee, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped with available grants and other farm development resources. The Bailey's were also intentional with every part of the development from the paint colors, lighting, and fixtures on their property, including the development of a commercial kitchen. After considerable planning, and development the Bailey's opened The Kindred Farm in December of 2016.
Almost three years later the Kindred Farm has become a destination for Saturday morning shopping and evening dining on a farm. Visitors can attend a farm dinner known as Kindred Dinners, which include a seasonal farm meal by local chefs, craft beverages, and live music. On Saturdays from 9 am – 12 pm they open their Farm Store to sell their produce, meat, eggs and homemade cinnamon rolls. Farm tours are available to visitors when the farm store is open. Hosting the Kindred Dinners wasn't a novel concept for the Baileys. Prior to leaving Dallas they hosted a large farm to table dinner. With a hospitality background and experience in marketing the Bailey's have been able to structure their dinners in a way to keep cost down for the customers while also giving them the maximum experience.
Starting a farm operation in a new city came with a few challenges as the Bailey’s navigated operating a new farm and hosting a farm experience. Steven shared two of their challenges.
Being New In Town
As a new farm hosting a farm dinner Steven stated that “No one knows who you are… and you're asking people to come and experience your thing.” Gaining the attention and interest of potential visitors was an early challenge. With the success of their dinners the Kindred Farm is now known by local and surrounding communities.
Managing Guest Experience
Managing the full guest experience on your property can be a challenge. Steven mentions that "it's a lot of people that disturb your property all at once and anything can happen." Something can break or a guest might be upset about something and post about it online. As the farm owner and host he's aware of those challenges and focuses on always being ready for whatever may come.
Tips & Advice
Steven shared a few tips and advice to other farmers that are considering getting into agritourism.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
“Having people on your farm and doing something doesn’t take a lot of infrastructure.” In describing how he and his wife chose to design their farm, he noted that the level of detail they incorporated was specific to the kind of branding their use to from the organic market in Dallas. His suggestion to other farmers is this: "...You can have picnic tables, it doesn’t have to be super expensive and [you don't have to] create these big barriers to entry."
The Next Best Thing
"I would tell them to do the next best thing. Do one thing that will move you forward...
People get stuck in thinking that they have to create this big grandiose thing." Steven advised that focusing on one thing and taking baby steps are crucial. In doing so he also shared their farm motto of "Progress over Perfection."
It’s Not for everyone
Steven's final piece of advice was a reminder that farm experiences may be a great addition to some farm operations, but they may not be the best fit for every farmer. "Agritourism, isn ‘t for everyone. If you're the type of farmer that doesn’t like to talk to people don’t do it, just stick to wholesale."
If you're interested in learning more about the Kindred Farm check out their website