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Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
The Vegetarian Butcher farm and co-op produces whole, healthy & beautiful food in New Mexico. Our mission: To strengthen the local food system, cultivate land & animals holistically, and improve the health of the people.
Our Credo: Dream big. Start small. Do it right. Grow from within.
The Vegetarian Butcher is owned by Alyson & Henry Gilman on ten acres in rural New Mexico.
We produce farm goods of milk, eggs, meat and cheese for ~27 members of our community. We both work jobs off the farm yet plan for the day when farming can be our sole livelihood.
Alyson was born and raised in a company town in Iowa, surrounded by farmland. In 2002, Alyson met Henry who came with sons. Alyson doesn't eat meat, but her family loves meat. So, we set out to learn how to feed our family from our land.
The Vegetarian Butcher was born.
We began raising chickens, learning how to butcher and process the meat for our table. Goats, turkeys and pigs came next with llamas standing guard.
It is a labor of love that inspires us to live close to our food.
Our service area includes the rural community of Madrid & Cerrillos, (population ~1,300) and Santa Fe (population ~70,000). A handful of cooperative farms are available, yet none that we know based in our zip code.
The demand for The Vegetarian Butcher products has far surpassed our supply. With co-op and farm expansion, we are confident we will be able to meet that demand.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
Alyson Gilman, has 25 years business experience working with a variety of organizations—both large and small.
My greatest achievement has been helping local business thrive with efficient and proven management practices.
Observing business leaders—both succeed and struggle—has been our inspiration to lead this enterprise. The evidence we have gathered indicates that with enough discipline, effort and clarity, everything is possible.
With a degree in public relations, my career began in Chicago with a public relations firm, then with Fortune 500 company in sales training and development. My business, Real Communication, has served many industries including a butcher shop, restaurants, alpaca ranches, home builder, healthcare, authors, animal trainers, caterers and coffee roasters with revenues ranging $300K to $3 million.
Henry Gilman has grown up in the construction industry with more than 30 years experience of designing, building and supervising projects.
We have both expanded our knowledge ten-fold of animal husbandry and farming by researching and implementing best practices of farming and with experiential “learning-by-doing.”
Our greatest challenge is restricted time and resources in order to expand. We have a 3-year plan to phase out of our off-farm jobs and work 100% for our local food system.
How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
The co-op motto: Feed the people, support the farmer, keep it local.
The co-op is designed for shared accountability and reward.
Members and Apprentices receive a share of farm goods from Producers and help support the food system with their dollars, time and energy.
We are committed to being an organization which provides:
—an efficient, calm, safe & fulfilling work environment
—a cooperative that inspires eaters to be connected to their food
—a profitable endeavor for all (members, producers, community)
Our farm & co-op plan relies on collaboration with:
—Local citizens, producers, merchants & restaurants
—Local & national media outlets & online networking
—Local organizations: Farm to Table, Madrid Community Garden & Food Bank, Madrid Cultural Projects, Las Candelas de Cerrillos & Turquoise Trail Associations
—Advisors: Santa Fe County Economic Development, SCORE Santa Fe, Accion New Mexico, US Department of Agriculture
—Educational: Santa Fe Community College, NMSU, UNM
We are deeply connected to our community and is historic roots as a self-sustaining energy town. We want to model that life again and help others learn how. The co-op’s educational arm will develop skills and jobs.
With local non-profit organizations and pubic entities, we gain access to programming, funding and support for managed growth.
What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
We apply for this grant with hope that The Vegetarian Butcher enterprise will flourish for many years.
We have received overwhelming praise for the small scale goods we provide and know time is ripe for growth.
After years of growing on a shoestring budget, an influx of funds would allow us to expand with greater ease and efficiency.
We could train and bolster a force of employees, members, apprentices and producers who care about the enterprise as much as we do. We could build a central learning farm for cooperative use with outreach programs which will help others produce food, cost effectively, in their backyard.
The Vegetarian Butcher will utilize $100,000 in four essential areas:
Business & Co-op Development
—detailed plan for growth
—grant & loan opportunities
—tools of the trade: tractor, truck & trailer
—fencing & shelters that allow us to reach economies of scale
—fencing & shelters to create a central community farm site
—training & development opportunities
Outreach & Education
—website development & maintenance
—network with NM producers & educational institutes
The Vegetarian Butcher has clear identity, vision, mission & values. We have a plan. We are ready to fly.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
Our current cooperative has ~27 members with The Vegetarian Butcher as the sole producer. Within the first year, we will partner with local producers who fit our business model. For every producer, we hope to have 50 members.
An established & clear cooperative system will help us reach our goals:
—Year 1: 3 producers + 150 members
—Year 2: 5 producers + 250 members
To achieve our mission, we will:
—expand our knowledge of food systems & cooperatives
—develop a workforce through hands-on education
—continually seek outreach and funding
—choose local resources whenever possible
The Vegetarian Butcher will:
—Be a leader in fostering food security programs in the southwest
—Be a resource for New Mexico farmers, families and consumers
—Distinguish the farm & co-op as local food hub with clear identity
—Commit to the best and highest use of resources: human, animal, vegetable & tangible
The Vegetarian Butcher began with the purpose of feeding our family yet we soon realized the potential to feed more.
With financial support, we will spread our wings to bring our goods to local eaters within 50-mile radius.