We all want to make more money, right? Maybe it’s to expand to let another generation come back on the farm. Maybe it’s just to bolster your bottom line. Adding enterprises are creative ways to provide that extra income to your operation. Kasey's guests, Stephanie Mock, Kualoa Ranch, and Andrew Donell, Donnell Century Farm, have plenty of experience, ideas and advice for anyone considering adding an agritourism enterprise.
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Hello and welcome to Angus at Work. I'm your host, Kasey Brown. We all want to make more money, right? Maybe it's to expand to let another generation come back to the farm. Maybe it's just to bolster your bottom line. Adding enterprises are creative ways to provide that extra income to your operation. My guests today have plenty of experience, ideas and advice for anyone considering adding an agritourism enterprise. This episode is brought to you by Certified Angus Beef and their Feeding Quality For this August. We want to thank them for their support. Now this episode is a bit longer than our normal timeframe, but I promise you that this is worth it to listen to the whole thing. Stephanie and Andrew shared tips on what worked and what didn't in their own environment, marketing tips, handling liability, adapting to challenges, and much, much more. So I'll start this episode by saying you can find more information about our print Angus Beef Bulletin and digital Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA to help make Angus work for you in our show notes. So let's dig in.
I am joined today by Andrew Donnell and Stephanie Mock. Welcome. Tell us a little bit about your background and your operation’s background, if you would.
Stephanie Mock (01:33):
Hi, my name is Stephanie Mock. I am the sustainability manager of Kualoa Ranch located on Oahu in Hawaii.
Kasey Brown (01:40):
Awesome. And tell us a little bit about your background and tell us how long Kualoa Ranch has been around.
Stephanie Mock (01:48):
Sure. So Kualoa Ranch started in 1850, so it's a little over 170 years old and it's really a diversified farm and ranch and huge agritourism operation. Nowadays, my background in agriculture, I've been working with Hawaii farms and ranches for about seven years now in different capacities, either through business or non-profits. So my experience really stemmed most from working at an RC and D council, working on conservation planning, soil health, carbon, farming, that kind of thing, and also offering opportunities to farms and ranches to try out agritourism without committing to it. So hosting an annual event where any farm we wanted to host a tour and we would teach them how to host tours and what are the different things you need to consider when opening up your property to the public?
Kasey Brown (02:36):
Andrew, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Andrew Donnell (02:39):
Hey, I'm Andrew Donnell. I'm a seventh generation farmer in Jackson, Tennessee, and I grew up in the Angus business. I showed cows and loved it and even served as a national junior Angus board of director from 96 to 98. I love the Angus business and love the agritourism business as well. So we have a diversified farm, we grow cotton, corn and soybeans. And then we obviously have Angus cows and we recently put in a butcher shop on our farm. So we have on-farm sales where we're actually cutting the meat. They're cutting it, cutting some right now while I'm gone. And then we have a corn maze and pumpkin patch that we've kind of expanded and try to meld the three worlds or three businesses kind of together. The agritourism side of people coming out and experiencing the farm, having that hands on, and then being able to take something home that, that kind of memorable moment where they can come out and see the cows, feed the cows and take some of the cows home one at a time.
Kasey Brown (03:45):
That's perfect. Take little parts. So tell us how old is your operation? Tell us how it started and then how you kind of took it in your own direction.
Andrew Donnell (04:01):
John Donnell settled, or it was deeded in 1832 and we're from North Carolina. The Donnells are over there and it took them three years. Probably they were there in, in 1834, but just nice round numbers, 1835. I think mom did the genealogy and the history. So we've always had livestock there on the farm. And so my dad was very involved with Hereford. He was on the second ever junior horned Hereford board. And so he grew up with Hereford and then he had a change of heart. He saw the light, right? Hecided to switch over to Angus when we were little. We bought some Angus cows from a gentleman there, John Sanford Smith there in Jackson had great, great foundation herd, super nice gentleman. And then we've also added to the herd over the years through Robert Elliot and sons and different ones over the years.
And then my mom's goal was to tell our story of agriculture. We need to be advocates for agriculture, because if we won’t, someone else will. They don't really understand why you have to slow down on that, on that road. And my joke is our goal for our agritourism is to make sure the next time you pass that tractor, you wave at us with your whole hand instead of telling us we're number one, because all we're trying to do is just feed the world. And so mom started the agritourism and then I have grown in and mom's kind of more retired. So we're trying to do it. All right. Just trying to continue the family operation and prepare for the next generation,
Kasey Brown (05:45):
Stephanie, you said something earlier that I really liked was that you still need your foundation of production agriculture and how you can layer these agritourism enterprises on top of that. Can you talk to that a little bit? And, and what kind of experiences layer on top at Kualoa ranch?
Stephanie Mock (06:01):
Yeah, absolutely. So, in our branding and marketing and ultimately our values, we are a working cattle, ranch and farm. That has been a huge value of the Morgan family. The sixth generation is now stewarding the property that they want to keep these open undeveloped spaces for farming and ranching for local food security and for feeding the world, but also keeping that culture alive. And I think sometimes, you know, we think change is scary for everyone. It doesn't matter what industry you're in. And so this idea of adding enterprises to your farm and ranch seems like you're taking away the farming and ranching. And really what you're doing is you're layering on top of the foundation of the ranch. You're doing something to support that foundational core so that you can continue to do what you love and to protect your property and land that you care so much about.
So, you know, when we look at agritourism at Kualoa Ranch, ultimately we have our grazing schedule mapped out. We have our farming operations, but we work hand in hand with our tours and our operations side to see how we can compromise. Do we need to move the cattle elsewhere for an event? How can we do that without hurting the feeding or the grazing pattern? So adding enterprises, isn't an either/or, it's shaking of hands between two different industries and ultimately it's going to help protect your ranch because you have that diversified income structure coming in. So if you're having a bad year, cattle wise, you can still rely on income from tourism to help get you to that next year or even that next decade.
Kasey Brown (07:42):
Absolutely. So tell us about some of the layers at Kualoa Ranch. What kind of things have you added on to the working cattle ranch?
Stephanie Mock (07:50):
Absolutely. So we started agritourism in really the 1970s with horseback tours. And honestly, I think that was really just to give our cowboys something to do after lunch perhaps when the weather's a little bit hotter. It was really just an opportunity and it wasn't formalized in any way. It was mainly someone would walk up be like, you want a horse tour? Yeah. Okay, great. And it wasn't until the 1980s that we formalized agritourism. And I think we went really big, really quickly. And I think that was to capitalize on the Japanese tourism market at the time. So we did everything from single rider, ATVs, horseback tours, helicopter tours, scuba diving, which most people don't have that opportunity at a ranch. But we were capitalizing on that, but nowadays we've kind of streamlined it into more activity-based experiences.
So for example, it's our zipline or it's our UTV tours, or it's our electric bike tours. And the idea is to experience the land and get a feel for the land because a lot of the public doesn't have access to these wide, large open spaces that they can get close and connected to. So with looking at adding enterprises, I think probably one of our most popular is our weddings. We do about 400 weddings a year. Because we are in Hawaii, we can do weddings all year round. And I think additionally our movie filmings as well, so wide open spaces, movies love that they can come in and build a movie set really quickly and kind of capitalize on that open space as well, which I think a lot of people don't think about at first. And I know that we're also blessed with this really beautiful tropical mountain landscape that maybe not every ranch has, but it's how do you take what you have in your backyard and use it to your benefit and your community's benefit?
Kasey Brown (09:43):
Absolutely. Andrew, your resources are probably more what a lot of our listeners are going to be like. So talk to us about the layers that you've added on to your operation.
Andrew Donnell (09:58):
What a great explanation of exactly what agritourism is taking something that you love and showing that love, you know, what you grew up with generationally and passing that onto the next generation and providing an opportunity for the community to find love for that same land. Back to the question.
So traditionally we really love the cattle business, but being in Tennessee in row crop area, we knew that that wasn't going to be the ability to be sustainable. So when I got home from college, that's what dad wanted me to focus on. And so I did, I focused on it. We really enjoyed that side of it. We had bull sales and had a great time and were looking for a way to continue to diversify. So we started going to the farmers’ market in Memphis. What are we going to do with some of those animals that are not quite ready for seedstock production, right? What are we going to do with them? We could either sell them on the rail and try to go CAB, because we all know that's the best. Or we could sell them ourselves.
And so we had to decide, which was the avenue that was going to be best for our operation. And we did some of both. So we, we tried our best to hit the rail and to hit that Prime and then what we could market, we would market as well. And then Mom, while Dad and I were doing that, Mom was trying to build that agritourism as a place for people to truly love agriculture. You know, we've got a hundred year old mule barn there on the farm, and it's beautiful. There's some things there that you get, you know, with us establishing 1835, we're 180 plus years old. There's reasons to fall in love with the land and that heritage. My mom has a century farm seven miles up the road. So I jokingly say I had no choice, but to become a farmer <laugh> but my brother didn't think the same as well. He has a different business, but we're still trying to incorporate the things that are there, the blessings that we have and have that enjoyment, that fun and the farm and the family.
Kasey Brown (12:16):
So you have a retail operation, you have a butcher shop, you have pumpkins and, and corn mazes. Talk to us about those. And how did you decide those are the avenues you want to take?
Andrew Donnell (12:28):
Mom wanted to do school tours. So we were working on that with a hundred year old mule barn, replacing the floor. The local newspaper came out to our farm and said, Hey, this is so cool. And Mom made the comment that there there's so many kids who will never experience getting to play in that 100 year old mule barn. And so the school started calling and it was one of those deals where, well sure we can do that. You want to come to the farm? Sure. And so Mom was very involved in the fair association and had been to different state fairs. And one of the state fairs did a “farmer for the day” where you go through the barns or that's what we have on our farm is we have little barns. So we have seven little barns and a grain bin and thanks to the Tennessee agricultural enhancement program, which the state was able to give us a cost share to build some of the things that we probably wouldn't be able to afford.
Otherwise we really pushed education for a while and did not do a corn maze or pumpkin patch because we had a neighbor down the road who was also our cousin. We didn't want to hurt our neighbor and cousin. So we did not do that. He decided to retire and we gave him essentially two years to decide he wanted to come back and we decided to do a corn maze and pumpkin patch. We started as education and Easter, and then eventually we moved into fall and then we've kind of expanded some more where we do Easter and fall. And then we're doing some flowers, which I never ever thought I would grow flowers. And then we even did Christmas. So some of the ladies that's helping on the farm, we call 'em a family, right. They're family part of the farm. And she was like, we have to do Christmas. So they started making plans and essentially said, Andrew, we're going to do this. And so we've successfully done one season with Santa and unsuccessfully did Christmas trees. And so I still think it's possible. You can do it just, you, you need to,
Kasey Brown (14:28):
It just hasn't worked yet.
Andrew Donnell (14:29):
It hasn't worked yet. That's exactly right. It's like just because we used that bull on this cow. Right. You know, we'll use a different bull next time. So we'll get the calf that we're looking for.
Kasey Brown (14:39):
And that's kind of to the point of it's okay to fail. Part of enterprises are you have to try new things. But I also heard you say that you you start a little small and you build up to that. Stephanie, you mentioned a really neat option that you don't have to do all of this yourself. Can you talk to leasing or contracting things?
Stephanie Mock (14:59):
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, it is risk developing agritourism on your farm. It's risk financially. It's risk reputation wise, but also in terms of it's a brand new sector for a lot of farms and ranches. So looking at opportunities to kind of get your toes wet. You have the property, you have the land, you might not have the labor who can lead an ATV tour or lead an electric bike tour, but you have the property. And so you can partner with other tour operators and really it's just conversations in your community. I'm not saying you have to like call up Expedia or something. It's really just looking in your own community. First of like, maybe there's a young kid who wants to lead bike tours or something like that. And so that's a way that you can start to learn agritourism without fully jumping into the deep end, spending a million dollars or whatever it is.
And then being like, oh my gosh, this didn't work. So Andrew talked about it a little bit before is like events. Events are a great way because they're kind of a one and done and you can learn after each event. So you're like, okay, we hosted this group of 25 and now we learned that lesson. Oh, now we have 150. Okay. This is how we have to do things a little differently. So I think for the weddings at Kualoa, we do not offer wedding planning at all. And I swear, there's a point to this because all we do is rent out the field. We rent out the land and we literally say, you have to have your own wedding planner. You have to coordinate all the infrastructure you need. You cannot call on us for last minute bathrooms.
You cannot call on us for last minute flowers. And I think that for us is, you know, looking at labor and money, you might get into a contract with a bride and groom. That is, oh, we need this, we need this, we need this. And we're like, Nope, we're going to establish these boundaries of our property. You're going to honor the land as it is. But we have this connection that we can offer the field for rent.
I wanted to kind of touch on what you were talking about with the retail in the butcher shop. So in March 2020, COVID completely shut down our tourism operations and all of our agriculture and stewardship staff were considered essential. And like where our tourism staff got to have this break, our ag operations ramped up like never before and food security was really at the forefront. How do we help our local community?
Now I would say before COVID, a lot of our surrounding neighbors thought of us as the dinosaur place, right? Because Jurassic park was filmed at Kualoa Ranch. We were a tourism operation. And even though the name ranch was in the name, that connection wasn't quite there. So when we shut down, a lot of small farms in Hawaii lost their outlets to restaurants, right? Everything was completely shut down, but our tourism operation with the large parking lot, with large fridges and freezers set up to accept the public, we were able to start this drive-through COVID farmer's market. And a lot of our small farmers didn't have the infrastructure to do this, right? If you're a small egg farmer, you can't welcome 200 people to your farm to get eggs generally. So we started offering space in our market for small farms to help with that community development, that economic partnership and really start to, you know, show our community. Yes, we are tourism. But look, we are first and foremost, ranching and farming. Maybe the dinosaurs are at the front, but ultimately you can get grass-fed beef here. You can get a ton of other crops. So that was kind of a neat side of agritourism. A lot of times communities might think of downsides of agritourism. It's noisy. There's people, permitting issues. This was an opportunity to leverage those agritourism resources for the good of the community.
Kasey Brown (18:48):
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Well, you talked earlier about sell in, sell through. Can you talk to that a bit?
Stephanie Mock (19:39):
Yeah, absolutely. So sell in sell through is the concept of looking at how you're marketing and branding your operation. So what draws people in and then what are you going to talk to them throughout the tour? Some people equate it to kind of like a spoonful of sugar with medicine, right. The sugar is what entices you and you get the medicine during, but we look at it especially in terms of Kualoa, our selling point is people know us for movies. Movie film locations, TV shows like Lost, people are coming there because that's sexy. A lot of other people besides ranchers don't think cows are sexy. So our sell in is come experience the majestic valley, come see where your imagination can run wild, where you might see a dinosaur. We always tell kids, you might see a dinosaur if you're looking really hard and when they don't spot one, we blame it on them. Just kidding.
But throughout the tour, we are driving past our cattle operation and people think they're decorations and we have to explain, oh no, this is a hundred percent grass-fed beef operation. You're seeing the rotational grazing happen. We use an old movie shed that they built for Jumanji. It's now our piggery. Cool. So we get to talk about local pork and they see chickens. Because we're tropical agriculture, they're seeing bananas for the first time or they're saying papayas. So we really have that opportunity to talk about agriculture the entire tour. Yes. We may say, oh, here's where 5o First Dates was filmed. Look at that cow. Look at that pig. Look at that tree. Look at the native species we have in the mountains, in our conservation areas. So it's really helped our guides who run our tours to think about what's the hook, and then what are you going to sell through the tour? And then ultimately that can parlay into your retail operation. So when we make chocolate at Kualoa, and when we have too much chocolate…
Kasey Brown (21:42):
Is that a thing? Is there ever too much?
Stephanie Mock (21:51):
So when we have a lot of chocolate bars, like we just had a run, come in, we ask our guides, Hey, can you talk a little bit more about cocoa? If we're running low on chocolate, we're like, please don't push the chocolate. We're going to have a lot of sad guests who are like, oh, I wanted that chocolate bar and you don't have any. So connecting that sell through is not only good in terms of agricultural education for the public, but it also helps your retail options as well.
Kasey Brown (22:18):
Tell us about your events and then how that can help bring about ag education by bringing people in through different means.
Andrew Donnell (22:27):
Absolutely. So every event that we do and everything that we have there at the farm, we have a great opportunity through photo ops. They're learning and having fun at the same time, but they're having so much fun. They don't really realize they're learning and that's such a cool idea. And it doesn't really matter the age. There's always something that you can learn. You can go up and you can go down for every single age. Oh, I didn't know that there's lots of ways you can do that. And you can talk about the sustainability. You can talk about sustainable farming and, and practices that you can do or that you do, or that you want to do. And then like rotational grazing, and you have such a great opportunity to inform the public and educate them on why we farmers are doing what we do. And so it's different for each event. So when you have them there in the spring, we get to talk about baby animals. Or we, maybe we have a baby animal day, we have a baby animal festival, so perfect. Like literally they get to come and pet baby animals. And I mean, who doesn't love baby animals?
Kasey Brown (23:41):
Well, you talked about having a weekend for pumpkin demolition, right? But then you still can use that to feed the cows.
Andrew Donnell (23:49):
So it's all full circle. Oh. And they do, they love that. That's one of their favorite things to do is to go and feed the cows. And then I'm sitting here and I'm learning in the interview as well. You know, we need to be taking our guests and we've been saying it, we just need to do it. We need to take them out in the cow, pasture on the hay ride and show them exactly what's going on and why we're doing what we're doing. I mean, it's a great opportunity. We tell them about a little bit, but we're not putting the hook in there, like we should. So we have the great, I mean, we have a captive audience. So at our pig race, I'm always pushing something and I'm boss hog.
Speaker 4 (24:27):
I'm boss hog. I'm going to tell you right now, we going to have us a good time. Are you guys ready to see a pig fly?
Andrew Donnell (24:34):
And now you guys need to scoot back. You're going to get some sausage on them shoes. So there's, there's great opportunity, absolutely. And I say, don't worry if your pig didn't win, you can go up to the front and pick out a winner. You can take home a piece of a winner <laugh>. So there's, there's great ways that we can still incorporate that. What I was going to say earlier on yours is you're talking about the different events. You, you almost have an after action report on each event. And then if one of my brothers thinks he goes, if you don't measure it, it's like expected progeny differences. You don't measure it, how can you manage it? That's one of the cool things that we took from the cattle business and tried to move it over into another part of business and say, Hey, you know, this did well, this didn't do well. And what would happen if we move it over, you know, 10 feet, what would happen? And you, you utilize that team to try to help, you know, by putting the right people on the bus, like you have the right staff. And we all know the Angus association has the right staff by having the right people on the bus. It makes everything go easier.
Kasey Brown (25:48):
Let's talk about labor and, and how much time adding these enterprises can be. Especially for maybe the younger generation coming home. It's been a production operation. What are some of the first steps that either they need to look into, or how can somebody get started on adding these type of layers to their operation?
Andrew Donnell (26:10):
So I think they really need to look at what they have. Like if you have mountains and a movie set, what are your special skill sets that you have? What makes you special? What are you super proud of? What are your opportunities would be the first step? One of the things that I should have mentioned by having a mastermind group. So if you have a group of like-minded people, so we don't necessarily have to reinvent the wheel at every turn, we just need somebody who essentially has our best interest. And, you know, my friend in Hawaii, we're not competing with each other. We can bounce ideas, having a mastermind or a focus group where, you know, we're all doing essentially the same thing. And you know, what flew, what flopped, right? What worked well, what didn't work well, and when mine didn't work well, I talked to her and she's like, oh, this worked great for us and, and vice versa. So I think utilizing whatever advantages you have naturally and personal people, but starting small for us was, was good. And letting it grow, because it's really about expectations explaining that to your customers, you know, managing expectations is definitely a big, big part of this.
Stephanie Mock (27:32):
I would say my advice for looking into agritourism opportunities kind of first steps is go on agritourism tours at other places. They don't even have to be places that have similar ecosystems as you. So for example there's a really popular lavender farm on Maui. We don't grow lavender. It's a completely different island, you know, geographically, very different as you were saying, but you can go there on a tour and your eyes are just open to something so foreign and new that it gets your creative juices flowing. My experience with ranchers and farmers are always looking for those measurements, you know business and that kind of thing. But people come on tours, not because of economic metrics, to have that experience, that sensory feeling. So you need to remind yourself of that feeling and go on different agritourism tours.
So for example, we have UTV tours, we've done UTV tours across the nation to kind of see what they do. Do they offer bandanas? Do they offer glasses, that kind of thing? Cause it there's only so much you can think of. And like you were saying that focus group, that mastermind group, I might be completely looking down a tunnel and I just cannot see any other opportunities. And Andrew's like, why don't you do this and move it 10 feet to the left. And, oh my gosh, that'll work so much better. So I think like Andrew said, assess your own operation, look at your ecosystem, look at what set you apart from the herd, if you will. Then ultimately take yourself out of your own comfort zone and just go on tours elsewhere. And you're going to learn so much. You're going to see how they do bathroom signage. You're going to see how they do parking spaces. You're going to see what does their retail operation look like? What does their signage look like? And then it'll start to help you identify your own special skills and what you want to market yourself as.
Kasey Brown (29:31):
Great. You both talked about limiting liability. Can you talk about, unfortunately, it's, it's the dark side of business, I guess, as we talk about bringing people onto the farm, what do we need to think about to kind of keep our operation and ourselves safe?
Andrew Donnell (29:48):
So you mentioned earlier that thinking like a customer, not thinking like a rancher or a farmer and thinking about what's safe. And I think that is absolutely right. A first step, we also have to think about what they want to experience like you were saying, as well. So the liability wise is definitely a concern and that was a challenge at the beginning, by going on those tours, by having those contacts and talking to the people, we were able to work through some of that. And we are really blessed in Tennessee with Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. They're unbelievably good to work with. So I would definitely contact my insurance agent and explain to them what you want to do, and really maybe even show them, what do you want to do? And we were extremely fortunate in Tennessee. Whereas we have other friends maybe in Alabama, that it's more of a litigious state and you have to be more cautious and more concerned with your insurance, but absolutely the liability is there, but some of, a lot of the states have passed agritourism laws.
So we have a Tennessee agritourism law and it states that as long as your production agriculture side is larger than, and no, they didn't define that, is larger than your agritourism side. You are still covered because you are a real working farm. That really helps us. And they have different laws for each state, obviously, but that's one of the things that we've worked on and we continue to work on in our state really limits liability and helps a lot. We post signs. The customers know that you try to be in front, right? You try to not have any problems, you know, problems are going to arise. And then you try to do whatever you can to fix that.
Stephanie Mock (31:41):
So, because we are a rather large operation, we have about 750,000 to a million people come through our doors each year. We look, we look at safety and liability probably on a larger scale. So, you know, we are keeping track of accident, metrics, all those lovely metrics you were talking about, and we're looking at kind of that mastermind focus group. So we have a safety committee that looks at our tours and identifies things that might not seem dangerous to a rancher or farmer or staff, but to a new person, they have no concept, right? You you'd be surprised how many people might not actually be able to walk up steps to get on a horse safely. So in terms of liability, now you're looking at how can we train our staff so that they can work with the people on the ground and be able to offer that advice to limit risk, you know, talking about insurance and permitting and all the different state laws and stuff.
Our liability comes mostly from vehicular accidents mainly. We found that was you can't ever fully identify one factor. But one of the things that we thought was maybe contributing to higher accidents was we kept selling the tour, like ATV adventure. Everything was like, maybe not aggressive, but it was extreme. It was, you know, ride this fast. Rugged and all that kind of stuff. So of course people are going to want to speed on their ATVs or be a little more reckless. And so we had to put like governors on and slow things down. So you can't let people go as fast as they want. Having more guides on tours is a huge thing. If people are being watched by a staff person, they're less likely to just like run off the course or run off the path.
And then our marketing kind of transitioned more into, you know, we are blessed with this really beautiful, majestic valley. We now market our tours as how do you experience the valley? Do you experience it on horseback? Do you experience it in a UTV as opposed to the activity being the main way and like, get your thrill from the activity. It's get your thrill of the valley, but you choose your transportation. And then in terms of liability as well, you know, welcoming anyone onto your property, even if, if it's not paid is liability. So it's managing that risk with what you're comfortable with. If you're just getting into agritourism, maybe don't start out with a 250 person event, maybe start out with a group of 10 or 20. Then that way you're minimizing your risk because you are also a newbie. So now you're training yourself in the process instead of going too big, too fast and outgrowing what your property can handle.
Kasey Brown (34:24):
Let's switch gears just a little bit. You mentioned marketing, you talked about sense memories and how that can play into marketing. Can you talk to us about that?
Stephanie Mock (34:32):
Yeah, absolutely. So I was talking about appeal to the senses in any tourism operation, and this doesn't even just mean agritourism. We are poised to offer so many sense memories to our guests, that it kind of blows my mind a little bit at Kualoa. We can offer them some fresh cut papaya, and so they can see the tree. Then they can experience the papaya right in front of them and get that connection to the land and where their food comes from. So many people in this country don't actually know about farms and ranches and how their food gets from farm to table. So it's taking that farm to table kind of foodie aspect, but putting it in an educational way to appeal to the public. So, you know, having that cow, lick their hand, you're going to remember that feeling more than Andrew telling you about the Angus cross breed and da, da, da.
You know, he can tell you about that, but at the end of the day, you're going to remember how that cow's tongue felt on your hand, or you're going to remember that papaya and you're going to be like, what was that fruit — papaya? Let me Google that, let me learn about papaya. How can I use it in my recipes appealing to the senses ultimately hits not only your five senses, but your imagination or nostalgia. Nostalgia is a super powerful thing. And I think farms and ranches offer so much nostalgia in them that people don't even recognize when they step onto the property. It's just something at the core of being on a farm and ranch, you just feel more alive. You just feel adventurous and open to new things. And like Andrew was talking about like photo ops teaching people like, even with the photo op they're just taking photos for Instagram, but you can like interlace it with facts or interesting things about agriculture.
And then now they have an Instagram post that they're sharing and it has like all the facts of the farm or that kind of thing. So in terms of the sense memories, farms and ranches are so used to having that amazing sensory experience every day outside almost every day that maybe forgetting that a lot of people are actually indoors all day. Just being outside in the sun sometimes is like thrilling for people. So how do you, you know, I, I hate to use this word, but how do you capitalize on all this grand nature that you have around you, but put it in a way that people can remember these senses and ultimately in the future. If you have a respect for nature, you're more likely to care for it and respect it in the future and share that with your children. Some people think only in numbers and that's great. A lot of people don't, but if you hit them at their core and in their heart, they're going to remember it longer.
Andrew Donnell (37:12):
Okay. No, I agree with her 100%, I'm just more of a numbers person, but that's what we are. We're working on that nostalgia, you know, their grandmother had a farm, they played in a barn loft. We're still doing those same things. I'm just using metrics to show me how I can grow. And there are two sides of the coin. And where I can change and my customers through their monetary, through their spending. I mean, we, we farmers know that if we're growing it the way that they want, they're going to spend their money because they're, they're voting three times a day with that dollars. But absolutely we are, we are attached to that experience and that nostalgia and they will even drive by the farm and they go, I wonder what they're building for me now. Or they'll, they'll fix that meal and have that papaya.
And you remember, do you remember when we went to that awesome ranch and then you relive those memories, not only as a parent, but as a child, and then you want to replicate that, that experience, that positive experience for the next generation or, or the, the people that are special to you. So that's what agritourism is also about: the ability to get them involved with the land and to fall in love with the land and fall in love with our heritage and everything that we sometimes take for granted. I mean, we're, we're truly blessed.
Kasey Brown (38:30):
Absolutely. I think that is a perfect wrap up. I think we could probably talk for a lot longer. Thank you guys both for your time. And we both know, and you've both talked about, this is a people business, not just a cattle business, so I'd like to end on some good news. If you could tell me something good that's happened to you, whether it's personal or professional, we'll end on that.
Andrew Donnell (38:47):
So one of the good things that's happened to us is the CARES Act gave us funding and we were able to, to take the nudge of COVID. And when we tell people that we use some of that, that CARES money. Now granted took a year and a half, right, to receive the money. But we were able to put that in and I believe make a legacy change on our farm that we truly are, you know, we were just seedstock producers. And so we were only seeing the breeding part of it. And, and, you know, when we're cow-calf producers, we were only seeing the beginning of that. And now we're really getting to see it and experiencing that, and the customer relationship that we get to experience is just, it's, it's a big deal. Like I, I just had a message earlier today that says, and it was a sign, this is true story.
It was a sign. He said, this is Certified Angus Beef. And they showed a picture of it. They said, this is the best you can find, or you need to call Andrew Donnell. I mean, I just thought how fitting that was. It truly is a great opportunity for our farm and a great opportunity to share our experience and way of life. And then I'll also say that, you know, we had a really good year last year and we set new records. All right. So we, we really set new records. Oh, I love that. And so that was fantastic. My numbers brain coming out in me.
Stephanie Mock (40:16):
So I think our good news is, you know, during COVID I talked about that drive-through farmer's market and we had this old buffet hall, well, buffets were outlawed with all tourism, right? During that time, this hall was just empty. Our agriculture team was like, well, can we use it to kind of create an all local grocery store? And our president was like, sure, it's not being used. Buffets will come back one day though. So like watch out, but he was always very supportive. That was started in June 2020. I was talking about helping our small local farms and offered their products and our market as well. So at the end of 2020, we had eight partner farms that we were working with. So that means we had eight different small farms offering their products in our all local grocery store that features our beef and our other products as well. And at the end of 2021, we now have 28 small partner farms. And it's really just built this agricultural community, not only across Oahu, but throughout the islands where, you know, farms and ranches typically are pretty isolated. Now we have this little network of ag enthusiasts, if you will, who all have the common goal of how do we get local products, either in local hands or visitors so that they can support local agriculture in Hawaii?
Kasey Brown (41:37):
Oh, that is so cool. I am going to chime in on this one, just because we've talked about how cool networks are. I've just learned that both Andrew and Stephanie and I have all scuba dove in Australia. So you just never know what you're going to learn when you come to an event like this. So thanks for tuning in. This has been Angus at Work and we'll see you next time.