Jacob Hunt is being honored as a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change.
I always knew that returning home would not be the easy choice, but, as it turns out, it was the right one. Growing up, I began to realize that some people saw the farming lifestyle as boring, unproductive, and unprofitable – and I watched other kids my age leave the place where we grew up to go pursue careers in the city.
I saw opportunity in the business my parents had grown over the past 12 years. I saw an opportunity for diversification, new revenue, and new customers. I seized this opportunity by preparing myself to be a new farmer and working hard at several educational opportunities. I began my journey by interning at the University of Delaware Creamery, and then post-graduation, working at Delaware’s largest dairy farm.
While in college, I learned the importance of staying connected to your local community. When I began working for the creamery, the groundwork for the UDairy Creamery had been laid, nearly funded, and we were about to begin construction on our campus scoop shop and production facility. When I began, we were also still in the process of acquiring customers (something you would not think would be too difficult for an icecream business on a campus of nearly 20K+ college students). We knew to be successful, we had to stay connected to the student body and university community - participating in on-campus and off-campus events and establishing a connection to our customers.
The importance of the customer connection has been strengthened over the past year on my family’s farm. After starting my own creamery, expanding our brand and image, and diversifying our product line – I know that keeping our small business alive always begins with customers.
Through public education and outreach, we have been able to double our reach. By participating in USDA programs such as WIC and staying involved in local farmers markets, the business has a direct connection to what our customers need and what drives purchasing. When considering expansion plans, I always keep in mind what impact they will have on existing and future consumers, how I can integrate public education about the importance of small-scale family farming, and the effect our actions have on the environment. We have 30,000+ visitors each year, half of which are under the age of 18.
The future of American agriculture starts with a public connection—sharing with our neighbors and our communities the connection and importance it has in each and every one of our lives, and that staying connected to your local farm neighbors helps ensure the success of local economies.
Jacob Hunt, managing partner of Windy Brow Farms and The Cow’s Brow Creamery, works to ensure agricultural viability through diversification for his family’s small-scale farm in Northern New Jersey.