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What’s all this about chickens?

January 24, 2010

I met Alexis Koefoed in 2005 at Havens Wine Cellars in Napa. She was on her way out; it was time to start that farm she’d been planning. I was on my way in, to implement a new marketing position. She was about to step into her boots to surround herself with thousands of chickens. I was about to bring Web 2.0 to the winery.  At the time, I knew Alexis was strong, driven, and exquisitely undaunted by a challenge. Her Soul Food Farm is a testament to all of that, but moreso, it speaks of a desire to lead people  back to the land (while I was parading them into e-commerce.)

Alexis at home on farmAlexis already had started the Solano chapter of Slow Food. She’d planted hundreds of olive trees on the 55-acre farm she bought with her husband several years earlier. So, when she introduced egg farming to Soul Food Farm, it was as much a place to express her passion for sustainable, organic farming as it was to provide wholesome food to her community. She started selling at farmer’s markets then restaurants. Soon, Alice Waters suggested she do the same good work with chickens.

Quick on the heels of recovering from a fire and then a flood that set them back a bit at the farm, Alexis takes on new challenges this year. It’s time to build membership in her community service agriculture program, to start a cooking school, and teach others about pastured farming practices and raising chickens in urban settings. It looked like a good time to get back together and introduce her to social media marketing. I mean, this business is local, it’s sustainable – it’s nothing if not about “community.”  My goal: take a fresh start like Soul Food Farm with limited marketing history and see what social media can do. Perfect conditions for a laboratory style experiment. We have hypothesis, technique, and analysis procedures. We have controls: no previous marketing to influence results once we get started.

Let’s roll up the pant cuffs and get to work.

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