The phrase, ‘farm to table’ has become more than a fashionable, big city trend: it’s grown into a social movement, which at its core is connected with promoting a healthy and green lifestyle.
Valicoff Family Farms in Yakima County has enriched the lifestyle concept to encompass its own brand of ‘fresh from the farm’ produce delivery program for Yakima Valley routes and delivery to homes every Saturday.
The idea to bring Valicoff farm fresh produce and wine to Seattle-area drop sites was initially developed for the westside market a couple of years ago.
“I decided, you know what, I’m going to do this farm to table now right here. And plus, with my wine, which I’m trying to build up my wine club membership because I don’t use distributors,” Robert Valicoff, Jr. expressed.
He explained the intent was never to get really big, but the third-generation farmer wanted to do a good job growing the grapes matched with a quality winemaker and put it all together while having fun in the process.
Valicoff was delivering wine to about 13 Yakima restaurants before COVID-19 shut down inside dining services. “They’re picking back up now,” he happily announced.
The direct marketing to consumer business model could be applied to the produce grown on his farm. He recognized the associated costs to farm, especially on the labor side, was escalating beyond their ability to sustain current operations.
“I said we need to look at getting more direct with the consumer. The internet is a vehicle that can do that, communicate. I’m going for it! I’ve got a good business model and website now,” Valicoff stated.
The website at www.valicofffarms.com is user friendly and easy to navigate, he indicated. Valicoff was very happy to report that he can perform all the information technology administration duties, which means he doesn’t have to rely on anyone else to carry out his online business directions.
When the online operation expands beyond his individual time capabilities, he will be able to easily train someone else to efficiently run the site. The expanded Yakima County delivery program has been in operation for almost two months.
“I’m excited to do it because I grew up a direct marketer with my grandad (Stoykan ‘Sam’ Valicoff) and my dad. And then our farm got too big, and we went away from that and got into the packing business. And that was part of our business plan to get vertically integrated,” Valicoff revealed.
His grandad and father taught him a couple of key business values: a strong work ethic and to be frugal with his money, he conveyed. “We never got any money from them!”
The 45-year farmer described himself as a calculated risk taker, who isn’t afraid to fail. “We started from scratch, my brother and me. Even though we’re third generation, in 1976 we started with 25 acres around this house of sage brush,” he proudly recalled. We were doing a lot of other things to make it work and to get where we’re at today. We’ve been blessed with a lot of good things, but we’ve gone through some trying times too.”
The high-energy and highly motivated farmer enjoys the challenge of implementing the Farm to Front Door Delivery service in Yakima County. Along with produce, delivery service includes Valicoff Estates Wines and peonies when in season.
Customers can refer new customers and earn credits every time their referral places an order to be used for discounts or free produce. Orders received by midnight on Thursdays will be delivered Saturday. Additional information is available on their website: www.valicofffarms.com.
“I want the per capita consumption to increase because we’re producers. We’re here to produce. We’re not here to go backwards. It’s not in our jeans to go backwards,” Valicoff noted as he spoke about his three main goals of the ‘fresh from the farm’ delivery program.
“To consistently bring quality fruit at well below retail prices and to help educate families about the farm.”