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In Edible-Alpha® podcast #64, Tera catches up with Bryce and Jen Riemer of Riemer Family Farm in Brodhead, Wisconsin, which Bryce’s grandfather started in 1927. The couple began taking over the midsize farm from Bryce’s father about 10 years ago, transitioning from grain-fed beef to grass-fed beef and other pastured proteins while implementing regenerative agriculture practices.
Even though Bryce grew up on the farm, he and Jen, who’ve been together since college, didn’t initially plan on joining the family business. The couple lived in suburban Chicago, where Bryce was a high school guidance counselor and Jen worked part-time will raising their daughters. But once they started selling his dad’s beef to friends, it lit a spark, and they began thinking seriously about how they could make farming work for their family. Finally, they decided to go for it and moved back to Bryce’s childhood home.
Although the couple had a deep respect for his father’s farming career, as early adopters of the Good Food Movement, Bryce and Jen wanted to change things up to better align with their values and conscious consumer preferences. But they knew they needed to do so gradually. So, over the next several years, they worked with the resources at hand, started building a client base, and learned as much as they could about regenerative agriculture. When it made sense, they instilled changes such as establishing pastures, transitioning the cowherd, and adding chickens, turkeys, lambs, and pigs.
Eventually, Bryce and Jen began farming full-time, with their three daughters pitching in and a dedicated, passionate team helping to keep it all running smoothly. His parents live across the street and provide instrumental support for their family and the business. Bryce and Jen are incredibly grateful for their generosity and marvel at how different their journey would be if they didn’t have a multigenerational family farm.
Nowadays, Riemer Family Farm’s grass-fed and pasture-raised proteins business is booming. They do a strong direct-to-consumer business, which is especially advantageous given the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, building this model out to allow home delivery during COVID-19 has grown their business 200%+. And while Bryce and Jen still feel like students, both have become leaders in regenerative agriculture, often sharing their knowledge with other farmers and interested consumers. They encourage people to come visit their beautiful pastures, which provide habitat for butterflies and migrating birds, and see firsthand how this type of farming is so beneficial for animals, people, and the planet.
Bryce and Jen’s story provides inspiration for any entrepreneur who wants to start a food or farm business that personifies their core values while meeting a consumer need.