Farmer innovates on meat sales to consumers
Nonprofit helps businessman plan
for share-based farm
By PATTY MAMULA
For the Capital Press
PORTLAND -- Nathan Moomaw is a new farmer who is translating his business plan from paper to reality.
With the help of advisers, he has developed a unique business model -- a year-round community-supported agriculture operation for meat.
The Moomaw Family Farm plans to begin delivery in Portland next summer.
Moomaw developed a comprehensive business plan and recently vetted it with business advisers at SCORE, a nonprofit association of volunteer mentors that helps small businesses get off the ground.
"They are a fantastic resource, very helpful," Moomaw said.
The business plan, seed money and share sales, his personal business and farm experience, and the support and assistance of family and friends will be used to secure an operating loan, he said.
"We'll need to borrow about $70,000 total," he said. "Our startup costs will be about $35,000 and our annual expenses will be about $80,000."
Land, often an obstacle for new farmers, has been leased in Molalla, Ore. He found 100 acres of oak savannah with a mixture of pasture, oak forests and wetlands through the Friends of Family Farmers iFarm website.
The heritage livestock will start arriving this month. Pigs will be first, followed by sheep, lambs, turkeys, chickens and finally rabbits. All the animals will be on the farm by next spring.
Full and half shares are available for $960 and $480. So far, nearly a fourth of the 80-share goal of the community-supported agriculture arrangement has been sold.
A full share consists of 10 pounds of meat delivered once a month. Each month customers will receive a cooler filled with their order. At the next month's pickup they return that cooler and receive a new one. Multiple pickup sites will be designated around Portland.
Moomaw's background in audio led him to start a recording studio before shifting to farming, first as a manager at a small alpaca farm and then working for several years on a third-generation vegetable farm in Wisconsin.
"I've always been interested in livestock farming and my experience helped me discover a way to make a business out of it," he said.
The Molalla farm has seven paddocks to rotate the animals through. The goal is to feed the livestock primarily on pasture with some supplemental feed.
There are close to 100 mature oak trees on the property that will produce acorns. Moomaw plans to harvest some for feed during the winter.
"If we rotate the animals properly, we won't need too much additional hay," he said, nothing that the landowner has hay available, if they need it.
A grant from the National Resources Conservation Service was used to install fencing on the property to protect a creek from the livestock. Native roses were planted along the new fencing to create a hedgerow as a defense against deer.
Moomaw's brother-in-law will assist with building shelters in each paddock and portable shade structures are planned to keep the animals distributed around pasture areas and not concentrated under the trees. A storage facility and living quarters are also being built.
The plans for processing are to handle the poultry and rabbits on the farm and to take the pork and lamb to a local processor who will deliver the meat flash-frozen, packaged in the desired cuts.
"The meat will be frozen all the way to the consumer's door," Moomaw said.
Moomaw Family Farm