Farmer Focus – Family Farming, Fair Prices, and Happy Chickens

Farmer Focus Farmer moving feed

Farmer Focus

There is nothing easy about farming. The days are long and you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. And if that isn’t enough, the traditional farming business model of growing for food corporations often puts family farms in financial straits. But one farmer in the Shenandoah Valley had a vision to bring together like-minded poultry producers and start Farmer Focus.

The History of Farmer Focus

The brand is the brainchild of Corwin Heatwole, a 6th generation Harrisonburg, VA farmer. When he was only 23, he purchased his first farm. After working for poultry producers, he saw that the traditional business model for farming was broken. He saw an environment where farmers were forced to compete with each other for contracts with large poultry companies that often resulted in low pay and little power. Farmers were struggling and many were going bankrupt.

Heatwole envisioned a better way to sustain generational farming. And he found other farmers who shared the same goal – to own their chickens and control their farms. In 2012, Heatwole started Shenandoah Valley Organic Farm with 300 birds, growing his flock to 3000 in a few months. This new method of farming allowed Heatwole to produce high-quality, humanely and responsibly raised chickens. In 2014, Heatwole began to develop the business model that would become the Farmer Focus brand.

As a sixth-generation farmer, Heatwole dreamed of passing his farm down to his children, but he knew the business wasn’t financially viable. So, he created Farmer Focus to ensure the long-term survival of his — and others’ — family farms.  “Unlike the traditional integrator model, our farmers own their birds allowing them to drive innovation on their farms. This model ensures fair pay and collaboration among our farming community, something we would love to see across other agricultural industries.”  

Farmer Focus Farmer holding a ChickenA Better Way for Farmers, A Better Product for Consumers

Farmer Focus brings together other like-minded poultry producers in the Shenandoah Valley and nearby Blue Ridge. As a 100% organic brand, the family farmers operating under Farmer Focus raise USDA organic, non-GMO poultry through certified humane methods. And those partner farms are audited by 3rd parties to ensure this commitment. Partner farmers own their flocks which eliminates farmer competition for compensation and provides fair pay. Nearly two dozen producers are part of Farmer Focus.

This quote from BusinessWire sums up the Farmer Focus philosophy: “We wanted our farmers to be partners, not contractors as in the typical industry model. This means farmers own their chickens, have more control over their farm, and earn a better living for their hard work,” stated Jefferson Heatwole, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “This new business model not only benefits the farmer, but it also guarantees a happier, higher quality chicken.”

Corwin believes that providing nutritious and delicious whole foods with minimal processing while paying the hardworking farmers who grow those foods fairly is the future of the “real food” movement.  “Increased interest in locally sourced, organic, and humanely raised meats helps Farmer Focus not only support over 70 farm families in and around the Shenandoah Valley, but our continued growth means that we can provide opportunities for more local farming families (we have over 100 on our waiting list!) to become profitable and sustainable for generations to come. “

Farmer Focus Chicken Package

Where to Find Farmer Focus Products

Poultry products can be found in select grocery stores like Martin’s in Winchester, Harris Teeter in Leesburg, Friendly City Co-Op in Harrisonburg, as well as through online outlets like Butcher Box and Fresh Direct. With the increasing awareness of locally sourced food, consumers want to know where their meal comes from and who is growing it. Through the Farm ID system, consumers plug a package code into the Farmer Focus website and trace their product back to the family farm on which it was raised. Here you’ll learn more about the folks who put that delicious poultry on your dinner table.

“Every Farmer Focus product is 100% organic, Certified Humane, and traceable to the farm where it was raised. Over 70 independent farm families grow Farmer Focus throughout the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. With the use of our Farm ID—a unique code on every package of chicken—our customers can meet the farmers who raised their chicken. “

Supporting Blue Ridge Sprouts

Farmer Focus is a VIP Sponsor of Blue Ridge Sprouts. This a festival for “foodies” and their families held Saturday, November 6th, at West Oaks Farm Market in Winchester, VA. This educational celebration combines top culinary talent that’s passionate about locally sourced food with farmers, food artisans, and other businesses connected to agricultural heritage and the environment.

 “Farmer Focus provides a connection between independent family farmers and consumers who care about where their food comes from. We partner with independent family farmers who are stewards of the land and believers in organic and humane animal care, and we pay them fairly for their hard work. Blue Ridge Sprouts is the perfect intersection for folks who appreciate locally produced foods and love the outdoors, two values that we and our farmers hold dear. “

 Proceeds from Blue Ridge Sprouts will be donated to three nonprofits involved in agriculture. VA Chapter of Future Farmers of America, Sustainability Matters, and a Farm Less Ordinary. Get your tickets now through EventBrite.