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A new module in Herdshare School - and the conflict about putting it there

Hey there! I hope you've had a wonderful first month of the year. I meant to write a post about how we do farm planning, and our yearly projections, and time just got away from me. I still have the draft, so if you are interested, let me know and I'll be happy to post it, even though we're already 1/12 of the way through the year.

I'm super excited and nervous about the new module that I just built for our Herdshare School Members, and I wanted to tell you a little more about it. I have successfully done a hybrid temporary herdshare:CSA for chevre production for the past 3 years. I've also had brisk movement of chevre for donations (NOT for sale) this past year. It was fantastic for perfecting my craft, and trying out different recipes and getting feedback as I have been ramping up and constructing our licensed dairy.

Because it worked so well for me, I thought it was only fair that I tell my Herdshare School members about it so that they could decide if and how they would like to implement some type of value-added products to their offerings (again, not for sale).

I also feel a pretty high level of anxiety, because offering value-added products puts many herdshare programs seemingly further in the crosshairs of regulators, and so I want to clearly get across to anyone that they need to be very careful how they market and announce their value-added offerings. Many working herdshare programs seem to have that feeling as well, given that the majority had minimal statements to the effect of 'butter, cheese, and heavy cream are available for an additional service fee to members only', or something to that effect.

So this new module is an overview of how some other farms around the country have made this puzzle work for them, and some profit analytics to help the students figure out how much their service fees should be.

What I was surprised about was the variety of creativity out there! Farms are doing all kinds of things to get their products out there:

  • Providing a variety of products to their regular members for a service or labor fee.

  • Providing a flexible share package in which the member picks from a menu of products (including raw milk) on a seasonal, monthly or weekly basis

  • A hybrid temporary herdshare/CSA model

As your spring kidding/lambing/calving season is beginning soon, and the flush of summer milk comes upon you, you might consider an option like one of those listed above to move some of that milk for some additional cash! Even though we'll be licensed to sell chevre this year, I will probably do another herdshare:CSA to try out exclusive flavors and maybe something fun like halloumi or paneer.

May the odds be ever in your favor during the upcoming kidding/lambing/calving season, whether that be pink, blue, or just alive!

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