Winners Farms: Creating a Family Recipe for Success and Sustainability
AN IMPACT STORY
Winners Farms is known for supplying great tasting local Canadian beef sustainably raised in the heart of the Fraser Valley. It is a multi-generational family farm based in Surrey, purchased in 1977 by Ingeborg and Hans, a young couple who had immigrated to Canada from Germany.
Rebecca Senicar is the granddaughter of Ingeborg and Hans. She currently works with her Oma, her father and two brothers to manage and grow the family operation. She is passionate about her community and proud of how hard her family works to remain an integral part of it.
“We love serving the people in our local community – be it from the farm gate, at various farmers markets or through new innovative ways that make it easier to connect, such as DirectFood.store. Since the pandemic, people have taken a greater interest in knowing where their food comes from. Supporting the local food movement means we are improving access to healthy food, strengthening the local economy and building community relationships. We really need to take care of each other right now, and this is how our family and Winners Farms are doing its part.” – Rebecca Senicar
A cooking pot of opportunity
In the beginning of the pandemic, Rebecca and her family made the bold move of expanding their dairy business to become a local supplier of beef products, including steaks and roasts. Beef cattle are being raised on the farm alongside 400 dairy cows – all fed locally-grown feed without the use of added hormones or steroids.
Spurred on by an increasing shop local movement, uncertainties in the food supply chain, and the rising awareness around food sustainability, the farm’s beef business has grown exponentially in the past two years.
Adding vital ingredients
When asked about why she thought they were seeing such success, Rebecca reflected on the importance of:
- Reputation – Focusing on beef genetics and providing good quality products that are hormone free, sustainable and humane.
- Timing – Helping the growing number of people that want to become educated, aware and conscientious consumers understand where their food is coming from.
- Purchase Options – Understanding how people want to shop and making it easy for them to order and receive their products – whether it is through an online digital platform or from the farm gate.
- Trusting Partnerships – Working with partners in the community, such as Wisebox, that offer their expertise and digital marketplace products to non-technical folks – so people like Rebecca can focus on what they know and love best.
Baking a winning strategy
The demand from the local community during COVID-19, combined with the rising farm to table movement, made it the ideal time for Winners Farms to bring locally grown beef products to market. But to be successful in a time when direct interactions were being minimized, Rebecca needed to adopt a digital strategy that would help the farm maintain connection with people in the community and be “future-ready”. This meant developing a strong social media presence and implementing a digital path to purchase – something that was definitely not in her main skill set.
Partnering with Abbotsford-based Wisebox, Winners Farms was able to bridge the technical gap and quickly implement the online infrastructure they needed to support and expand their business reach in and beyond the Fraser Valley. The DirectFood.store digital marketplace platform enabled Winners Farms to facilitate convenient grocery delivery straight from “farm to table”, providing customers easy access to healthier, additive-free food with traceable origins.
Creating a recipe for business success and sustainability
Winners Farms currently conduct 60-75% of sales through DirectFood.store. They can seamlessly receive payments and issue receipts direct from their own merchant account. All orders are picked up directly from the farm in the morning and delivered to customers later that day – no warehousing needed. This reduces food miles and eliminates food waste as Rebecca and her family know exactly how much they need to package on any given day.
“Working with Wisebox and being a part of the DirectFood.store digital marketplace has been a fantastic experience for Winners Farms. We are happy to be working with a vendor that understands small businesses and wants to serve the local community because they are a part of it. With minimal effort, they have helped us to not only survive, but see our business thrive in a digital world – all while strengthening our commitment to sustainability, an excellent customer experience and delivering fresh, healthy food.”
DirectFood.store was developed with funding support from the Digital Supercluster. Learn more about the project.
Hungry for more? Try Rebecca’s Butter-Basted Pan Seared Steak
2lbs of your favourite steak (Rib Steak) but T-Bone, Porterhouse, New York
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and coarse black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or more!!)
2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
- Pat room temperature steaks dry with a paper towel and season both sides generously with sea salt and pepper.
- In a cast iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, until just about smoking.
- Sear until a brown crust has formed (about 4 min) without flipping, then sear the second side (about another 3-4 minutes). Don’t forget the edges!
- Lower heat to medium and add butter, garlic and rosemary/thyme sprigs to the pan. Once the butter has melted, spoon butter mixture constantly over steaks until it reaches about 5-10 degrees under your desired temperature.
- Remove steaks and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice steaks into 1/2″ strips, then spoon extra butter mixture over the sliced steak and serve.
Learn More About DirectFood.store