Larry Daugherty of Heritage Farms raises heritage beef and pork at his 40 acre farm in McClellandtown in Fayette County. Earlier this year, his wife Anita embarked on a new food truck business using the meat Larry raises. They share these 5 lessons-learned to share with other veteran farm families thinking of a similar enterprise. Visit them on facebook to learn more.
Do your homework. Contact your regional PA Dept. of Agriculture early in the planning stage to find out the requirements to operate a commercial prepared food operation. They’ll help you head off problems with coolers and equipment that must pass
The more money you invest, the more you have to recoup. Start small. They bought a used 6X10 enclosed trailer for $900 and invested another $1100 in upgrades through Amazon—cheaper than elsewhere with free shipping. The $450 cooler was the most expensive item they had to purchase.
Marketing is a challenge in a rural area. The Daughertys used Facebook to launch the food truck. Business began to take off once they got a gig at a local alpaca farm. Don’t be afraid to ask event hosts if they have a food vendor. At the alpaca farm event they met representatives of Thistlewaite Winery, who booked the food truck for winery events. At the same event a local politician tried their bbq and has become a repeat customer. Stick with small events and let word of mouth build your brand.
Stay small so you can focus on your customers and establish a relationship with your base. Don’t get overwhelmed so you have to take time away from your livestock.
Don’t buy insurance until you get the food cart operational. A few extra days while you wait for the hot water, 3 bowl sink, and cooler inspected saves pennies that add up.