On April 28, 2020, as COVID-19 was becoming a global pandemic, Rick and Christine McNary of Potwin had settled in for the evening after they ate beef purchased from a Kansas rancher. Christine mentioned she had been at the store earlier that day and the meat counter was empty. Rick, knowing some farmers and ranchers who sell meat directly to consumers, grabbed his laptop and began the Facebook group, Shop Kansas Farms.
His mission was, “To connect you to the wonderful farm and ranch families of Kansas so you can purchase the food they grow.”
He made the group public and invited farms he knew to list their goods, then invited his friends to join who were looking to purchase food. The Shop Kansas Farms group grew to 5,000 members in the first 24 hours, 50,000 members in the first seven days, and more than 130,000 in the first six weeks. Through that growth, Rick added additional team members to help monitor the Facebook group, including staff members of Kansas Farm Bureau.
Today, Shop Kansas Farms has become a trusted brand with a website independent of Facebook where farms could list their products and consumers could find them.
In 2022, the McNarys went to Kansas Farm Bureau and asked if the organization would purchase Shop Kansas Farms to help foster its growth and impact. Although Rick went with no expectation nor request that he would be retained in any capacity, he was delighted when KFB said they would purchase it only if Rick would agree to stay on for five years as a consultant.
The Shop Kansas Farms and Kansas Farm Bureau partnership has helped continue to provide the direct-to-consumer market benefitting both farmers and grocery buyers.