Kansas Farm Profile: Chautauqua Hills Farm
by Tom King
Lance and Elizabeth Chastain started their farm in Southeast Kansas in 2008. What began as a hobby has now turned into much more! Chautauqua Hills Farm is known as “Home of the nickel-size blueberries.” Harvest season runs from mid-April to mid-July.
Chautauqua Hills Farm (Sedan, Kansas)
– Blueberries – Four varieties totaling 1,800 bushes, 5, 6 & 7 years old. Mature bushes can yield up to 10 pounds of fruit per plant each season, depending on weather.
– Blackberries – 300 plants, two varieties
– Asparagus – 500 plants, two varieties
– Garlic – 2500 plants, two varieties
– Retail – U-Pick farm sales; Order and Pick Up sales, serving 500-1000 customers per year, depending on harvest;
– Farmers Markets: Wichita Old Town and Andover
– Wholesale: Blueberries, blackberries, and asparagus to local Wichita retail stores and restaurants.
– Distribution: Agent. “We have one agent that sells our products to stores, restaurants and a CSA. Whenever possible, we like to have our products sold in Chautauqua Hills Farm branded packaging.”
“We don’t have any marketing challenges – we can sell up to 3 times as much as we grow!” says Lance.
Marketing Tools, Tangible
– Packaging: Distinctive logo (cluster of bright blueberries on white ground), displayed on all packages.
– Internet: Website, Facebook, Twitter and local food sites. “Customers find us online although many more are now contacting us as result of trying our berries or referral from a friend.” http://chautauquahillsfarm.com/
– Agritourism: Chautauqua Hills is a registered Kansas Agritourism site. https://kansasagritourism.com/
– Reservations for Pick Your Own: “Our unique reservation system gives each customer a high degree of assurance we’ll have enough berries to accommodate their needs. This is important since customers drive up to 3 hours one way to visit the farm for Pick Your Own. Reservations also help us to better prepare with staffing and supplies, and allows us to inform customers what the weather looks like and what to bring.”
Marketing Tools, Intangible
“In the past three years, we’ve seen dramatically increased repeat customer business and customers telling their friends about us.”
– Unique way of access
“We have customers that come from up to 3 hours away. It’s very important for them to know the trip will be worth it. We encourage customers to bring their lunch and make a day of it. We also provide itineraries for places to eat and sites to see in the nearby areas. We spend time with our customers while they’re picking and many enjoy learning about how we grow. That adds a special value and quality to the produce they take home.”
**This Farm Profile is an excerpt from Finding Your Niche, A Marketing Guide for Kansas Farms, published in January 2013 by the Kansas Rural Center. You may CLICK HERE to view the guide’s full Table of Contents and print or download other profiles and resource documents. Finding Your Niche: A Marketing Guide for Kansas Farms offers a great starting point for envisioning the potential your farm has to increase and respond to local demand.
To receive a printed and bound copy of the 200+ page guide, please order here or contact the Kansas Rural Center at 785-873-3431. A limited number of copies are available for a suggested fee of $25 to help cover printing, shipping and handling costs.