Christian County, Illinois
When Farm Credit Illinois customers Phil and Carolyn Corzine started farming in 1980, they, like many farmers in Illinois, specialized in a single crop. Since then, they have evolved into one that could fill a dinner plate with all the fixings.
In 2014, with help from their daughter, Andrea Sloan, the Corzine’s started a 20 head herd of grass-fed Belted Galloways, known to those in the industry as Belties. “We originally intended to finish the cattle on grain, but when we looked at our primary customers, we realized we needed to maintain a grass-fed diet through their lifetime,” said Phil.
In addition to the cattle, the Corzine’s finished the south end of their barn and transformed it into the Cypress Grove Farm Store, a permanent outlet for sales. That’s right – this family doesn’t run one specialty business – they run two from the same location. Andrea manages August Creek Farm, a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) business from the Corzine’s homestead.
August Creek Farm CSA began in 2013 when Phil and Carolyn encouraged Andrea to return to the family farm following the passing of Phil’s father. “I didn’t know what a CSA was until I moved to Florida after graduating from the University of Illinois,” Andrea said. “While I was there, I became passionate about going to farmers markets and keeping my money local. When my parents offered me a few acres to start my own organic vegetable farm at home, I jumped at the chance.”
Andrea started with just two acres serving 20 CSA members in the Decatur area. However, once she broke into the Taylorville market, August Creek Farm CSA doubled in membership, acreage and business reach. Now, Andrea delivers shares to both Decatur and Taylorville in addition to offering on-farm pick-up at the Cypress Grove Farm Store.
The co-location of the CSA pickup and the farm store means mutual benefits for both businesses. “It’s convenient for our local customers to come out and pick up their weekly share or see what extra produce we are selling and grab a few burgers while they’re here,” said Phil.
This family collaboration also eases the workload of farm labor for everyone. “We work together to share responsibilities and customers,” Andrea said. “It’s great to have a team in the busy season when the vegetables are all ready to be picked or the calves are dropping.”
Thinking to the future, they chose to incorporate the two businesses independently to ease succession planning down the road. “When we started, we created separate LLCs for the cattle company and the Farm Store,” said Phil. “The cattle company sells cattle to the Farm Store and the Farm Store sells the meat. Since we wanted to transition the business eventually, we knew this would make it smoother.”
This story originally appeared in Farm Credit Illinois’ bimontly e-newsletter, Essentials.