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Small Farm Pride
By Katie Hornette
For years, Roger and Dawn Hubmer grew grain and raised hogs on their sixth-generation Prairie Pride Farm near Mankato, Minnesota. In the 1990s, they took a realistic look at the hog industry, which was moving toward bigger operations. “We didn’t want to go that direction,” says Dawn. They needed a niche to remain relevant. They decided to stay small, add chickens to the farm, and focus on meat quality and direct sales. “Today’s consumers are looking for meat from local, small family farms,” Dawn says. “We wanted to offer the whole package: quality meat, growing our own non-GMO corn, and creating healthy, clean feed. Basically, we wanted to have control of all aspects.”
Hitting the Market
With a desire to sell directly to consumers, Prairie Pride Farm became a member of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.
Today, Dawn has a booth at the market four days a week. Customers are attracted to the booth by the tantalizing aroma of pan-fried pork, as Dawn prepares samples to share with passers-by.
“People think it will taste just like the pork purchased in the grocery store, but then they try it and they’re hooked,” she says. The meat is incomparably tender, juicy, and packed with flavor.
The Hubmers offer over 40 USDA-inspected products. They also process custom orders. Dawn often needs to educate consumers.
“At first, people asked why our meat was more expensive, and I told them this quality of meat is not available in grocery stores. Plus, it is custom hand-cut, shrink-wrapped, and flash-frozen to lock in freshness at its peak,” she says. “No water or solutions are added to enhance the flavor or to add weight to the package.”
Thinking back to when they sold hogs on the open market, Dawn remembers how disconnected they were from the consumer. “We got a paycheck and that was it,” she says.
Now, the family connects with consumers on a personal level. “Customers come back and say, ‘This is the best meat I’ve ever had. It reminds me of what pork used to taste like when I was a kid.’ It makes us feel appreciated,” she says.
“We want to make our farm diversified enough to keep up with the trends so that our sixth-generation farm will make it another generation,” Dawn says.