169: Sarah Highlen on Farm Marketing
Offering cost-effective marketing for small farms and food producers.
Sarah spent 17 years in the marketing industry, working with clients across diverse industries. As her values evolved, her career in marketing became dispiriting — until she realized she could use her marketing skills for something she felt really good about: good food.
Sarah founded Grapevine Local Food Marketing in 2016 to help small farms, local food producers, and other small food businesses. In August, Katy Horst joined the Grapevine team, and together Sarah and Katy provide websites, logos, Facebook marketing, email newsletters, and other marketing services to clients in Indiana and beyond.
When Sarah’s not working on marketing projects, she’s usually growing food, buying food, cooking food, photographing food, or eating food. Sarah also enjoys helping people develop an appreciation for real food through education and recipes, and she’s a founding member and board president of her local food council (NWI Food Council).
In this podcast:
Greg hears from a woman who got tired of marketing food “products” and figured out it was much more rewarding to market for small family farms and local food producers instead. Sarah Highlen tells how her desire to eat better and be healthier led her to a farm that needed some help. This led to a very satisfying career change and a chance to make a difference for local people who make real food and help regular people find the sources of the good food.
Listen in and learn about:
- Her previous marketing career marketing a food product
- How she was raised with a solid connection to whole foods but lost her way
- The initial changes she made to her diet when she decided she needed to go back to whole foods
- Why she rejects some of the veggie burger type foods
- Her strength training and how that converted her from veggie centric to protein obsessed
- Why she was looking for a farm to buy meat from and what she found
- The little farm she found that was a hidden secret in the area
- How she helped them increase their customer traffic and how fast their sales tripled
- The satisfaction of knowing both the farm and the customers were thriving
- Her other project to work on a year-round indoor market that did not work but helped her decide to move towards marketing for small farms
- How her skills that she is offering to small local food companies in her area can help other local food companies in other areas
- How Grapevine Marketing offers cost-effective marketing for small farms and food producers
- Some tips to increase the marketing for local food companies
- Some resources that help the customers find local food in areas they are traveling to
- Her tips for finding great food and how to identify restaurants that truly offer local food
- Why food is so important to her
- The difference between a food and a food product
- What real food is to her and how her parents influenced her definition
As well as:
- How amazing things happen when you just go for it and her chance to work alongside Will Allen who taught her how to hand shape garden bends, as well as her week-long field trip with dozen stops all over Vermont and Maine.
- The changes in her life that allowed her to break free from anxiety and depression
- Her failure – not leaving her previous company sooner, and what’s she decided with her new career
- Her success – the initial marketing work for the first small family farm and watching her work make a difference for the farm and the neighborhood too
- Her drive – FOOD, good food
- Her advice – whatever it is you are waiting for or thinking about, go do it, or at least take some steps towards it
Sarah’s Book recommendations:
The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
How to reach Sarah:
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