Practicing regenerative agriculture and launching a consumer brand
Grant | $20,800
pasture-raised meat certified by the American Grassfed Association
synthetic nitrates, corn syrup, trans fats, MSG, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives included in Roam Sticks
John Arbuckle, a 9th-generation farmer originally from Illinois, along with his wife Holly moved to Maine in 2018 to lay down roots and expand their farm business. After farming in Missouri for 8 years they were drawn to Maine for its access to outdoor activities. They relocated their pasture-raised pork farm to a former dairy farm that they named Singing Pastures.
When John and Holly began farming after spending time as raft guides and outdoor educators they discovered that most farming in the US was now comprised of large, industrial confinement operations. These factory farms create problems for human health, animal welfare, and the environment.
John and Holly chose to go back to raising animals like our ancestors, on green grass without growth stimulants, antibiotics, and GMOs. They learned about and began practicing regenerative agriculture and found it ideal to promote healthy soil and restore and revitalize ecosystems that improve the planet. Their pork is certified pasture-raised and free from antibiotics, hormones, and Ractopamine (a pharmaceutical often given to pigs to increase weight gain).
In addition to selling their pork to wholesalers and white label customers, the Arbuckles wanted to expand their revenue streams by developing their own branded product line. Their first product is Roam Sticks. These are convenient, healthy, 100% pasture-raised pork sticks you can take with you anywhere—think artisanal Slim Jims. They are naturally fermented and slow-smoked with real hickory wood.
They launched Roam Sticks with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 and have since developed three flavors that can be purchased at their own e-commerce website and other sites like Misfits Market and Thrive Market online.
During the pandemic, they lost their largest customer—a white label account where they produced pasture-raised pork to make sausage for their brand. This pushed them to move their attention back to the consumer packaged goods market. Through a grant from MTI in 2019, they completed important market research. The research included reports on market size and market analysis, a competitive review, and customer insights. This body of research was instrumental for identifying their ideal customer, creating a branding hierarchy, and understanding the competitive landscape so they could differentiate their product in the market.
MTI not only helped with the market research, it also helped connect the farmers with other resources. After winning a Value-Added Producer Grant through the USDA, their customer research guided them to a more successful marketing campaign which fueled their growth. They saw 10x growth in their revenues from 2020 to 2021.
They are now planning to scale the brand by adding salami to their product list, and hope to launch in brick-and-mortar stores in the New England region.