Shawn Suefert, Farmer
“Growing is easy. Selling will happen. But the back end of the business is tough. Fortunately, our community now includes Kitchen Table Advisors, whose business advising has given me clarity and direction and the confidence in managing our farm business and sustaining our work for many years to come.” – Shawn Seufert, Terra Bella Family Farm
Shawn Seufert has been the consummate salesman since he was a boy, a boy scout, and today, as a man. He began peddling candy bars and moved on to flooring and cars. Now, he sells produce that he grows himself from his very own Terra Bella Family Farms. But why farming? How did he take the leap from autos to aubergines?
Shawn participated in a unique six month immersive apprenticeship in farming at UC Santa Cruz. He thought the experience would be an amazing adventure, but he never expected it to change his life. He learned the value of locally grown food, the nutrition of small-scale growth, and the deep connection to community through farming and left knowing he would become a farmer, not only growing delicious produce but also cultivating community through sustainable farming.
Shawn pursued his farming dream six years ago by leasing land and a home in Pleasanton. Four years in, Shawn was selling CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes to residents in Pleasanton and wanted to figure out the next step for his struggling business. Terra Bella Family Farm was not profitable in spite of the high quality produce and enthusiasm of the team. Shawn could not move forward with his dream because he didn’t have the business experience or resources to craft a long term business plan. Enter Anthony Chang and Kitchen Table Advisors. By working closely with Farmer Shawn, KTA was able to help by asking hard questions, finding holes in the business concept and filling them, and providing a solid network of resources for managing the finances of Shawn's business.
With the support of Kitchen Table Advisors, Shawn grew more confident in his decisions and now, Shawn has a clear plan to achieve his goals over the next few years—goals that are loftier than merely selling produce. Shawn realizes that the community bond around food in the US isn’t healthy anymore. So he aspires to transform his farm into an educational center and community gathering place; a space that can bring farming and eating back to its sustainable, communal roots. Shawn wants to remind families and friends that time spent around the table together, with food that is grown responsibly and locally, is invaluable.
Terra Bella Family Farm is incredibly proud of what they have accomplished because they see, on a daily basis, their positive impact on the Pleasanton community. Friends of the farm share stories of how they’ve lost 25 pounds in a year by eating seasonally with Terra Bella’s CSA boxes. Kids see Farmer Shawn every week at the farmers market and clamber to hear about what deliciousness the upcoming season will bring. Because of KTA's assistance, Shawn and the town of Pleasanton can grow alongside each other to create a stronger, healthier community.
You can find Shawn's delicious produce at farmers' markets and restaurants throughout the Bay Area, or (if you're in the Pleasanton area) have it delivered right to your door! For more information, check out his website.