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PNS Daily Newscast - November 25, 2020 


Feeding hungry families, on Thanksgiving and beyond; and is that turkey really from a family farm? (Note to Broadcasters: The newscast has been granted a holiday for Thanksgiving, but we'll return first thing Friday.)


2020Talks - November 25, 2020 


CORRECTED 2:30pm MST 11/25 - Linda Thomas-Greenfield would be the second Black woman in US UN Ambassador role, Susan Rice was the first. Biden nominees speak; how can social media spread less misinformation and be less polarizing. *2020Talks will not be released 11/26 & 11/27*

To Survive Crisis, Small WI Farms Pivot to Direct Marketing

With the spread of COVID-19 still a big concern in Wisconsin, smaller farms are losing their traditional customer base, such as  restaurants. That has prompted more direct deliveries to consumers. (Adobe Stock)
With the spread of COVID-19 still a big concern in Wisconsin, smaller farms are losing their traditional customer base, such as restaurants. That has prompted more direct deliveries to consumers. (Adobe Stock)
October 26, 2020

DELEVAN, Wis. -- Several months into the pandemic, a number of small Wisconsin farms continue to shift their customer focus to keep from shutting down. Instead of restaurants and larger retailers, some operations primarily are selling their products directly to consumers.

As the pandemic unfolded and shutdowns kept people at home, smaller farms lost outlets to distribute food they'd grown. Since then, many producers have decided to boost their online presence and hit the road making home deliveries.

In southern Wisconsin, Janet Gamble runs Turtle Creek Gardens, which specializes in organic vegetables. During the shutdown, she said they tried different forms of marketing, which came with some risks.

"We got a better marketing strategy on Facebook than we did some Google ads, those aren't necessarily very cheap," Gamble said.

But she said that investment was worthwhile, because they saw an uptick in demand for their retail service with restaurant and grocery store orders taking a hit. However, not all small producers were in a position to make the switch, because they didn't have a store with specialty items or a website ready for online transactions.

That's where producers such as Jeremy Lynch stepped in. He and his wife own a farm and catering business in Sauk County that already had an online presence. The couple raises hogs, but they're also taking in products from other farmers in the area who don't have anywhere to sell right now.

Lynch said catering weddings was a key source of revenue, but now they're ramping up online orders and safe deliveries with all these products.

"People order online with our store, and then we deliver. They just put a cooler on their porch, and we put the product in the cooler - so it's completely touchless," Lynch said.

With Wisconsin still seeing a COVID-19 surge, Lynch said he anticipates direct marketing to be a key focus for smaller farms for the foreseeable future.

"A pretty fair slice of the sector has depended on the restaurant sales," he said. "We've seen some restaurants closing, I anticipate more restaurants closing over the winter here."

While his operation has had to reduce expenses and cut employee hours, Lynch said this approach has helped keep them from having to lay off workers during the public health crisis. But he said he still worries that some farmers, who don't have the tools to make the transition, will not survive.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI