Hard work, serendipity, and does anyone know Wayne Gretzky?
Good morning all,
I truly hope each and every one of you is well and coping with this new world in which we live.
Here in Stratford, Monforte is doing okay and I’m feeling quite blessed.
Six months ago, we made a choice to make the best cheese we could, and get it to you in the simplest ways possible: we sold direct to restaurants and went to every farmers market we could manage. Sadly, that meant we were unable to do home deliveries.
In so many ways this was great: Bert and I drove to Toronto six days a week and sold our stuff and goodness it was lovely to reconnect, to sell how we used to, and to be proud of what we had on the table. I have always felt that markets bring out the best of society, perhaps even more when the world seems in such an uncomfortable place. The moments of serendipity were plentiful and joyful.
But we were also able to sell a lot of cheese and as a result we touched the black at our year end. Just. But we touched it, and that felt so good after the last couple years of losses.
I understand that it is a privilege both to shop and sell at markets. I know how expensive they can be, how their hours and location can exclude so many. I truly believe society would benefit in so many ways if we could make markets (and food!) more available. That said, my life was full and rich because of this opportunity, and I had the best summer in years.
But now that the market season is done and the world continues to turn, it is time for us to take the next step to recovery. That means we need to continue selling as much as we can, as directly as we can. We are so glad to be doing home deliveries again and opening a new “farm store” (more details on that soon to come).
For home deliveries, we think we have found a delivery service that works for most of Ontario. Annex, Go Fetch is a new delivery company and distributor and it looks like a great fit. But there are surely going to be hiccups as we transition—there always are! Still, we are hoping you’ll give it a try, so want to thank you in advance for your patience. All the details about delivery will be updated on the website, where you can still place orders for all your favourite cheeses. And we’ll still be accepting vouchers through the new service (you just need to mail them in if your order is being delivered—if you’re picking up from one of our locations, just bring your vouchers with you as usual). Just a note for those folks a little further away: delivering to eastern and northern Ontario are a little more expensive, but I am hoping to absorb the extra costs and just charge everyone $10 per delivery.
We’ve also started to make many new foods: whey drinks, cajeta, and so so much more. It feels a little like I am back at chef school and so nervous. But it’s also super exciting. These products will be available on the website soon, and at the farm store in Liberty Village—so stay tuned!
Lastly, we were given a piece of advice by a farmer/banker/advisor this summer named Carl. Carl suggested that—due to the pandemic and my market-first business model—our current financial obligations are ‘concerningly high’. He advised that we either need to make and sell a $#!% load of cheese, or we need Wayne Gretzky to come and buy part of the farm. Just a little benevolent investment to give us a cushion. Wayne won’t lose any money but perhaps not make much either. We are game for either, or any, opportunity life gives us. But being able to concentrate more on quality than quantity and just trying to work hard and do good seems a sweet proposition. This is when serendipity needs to present itself to Monforte. Que sera, sera.
Be well, take good care, and thanks for all.
Ruth, Harvey, Sam, and all the dairy staff