Ohio teen helps save family’s farm with class project
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - An Ohio teen saves her family’s dairy farm at the brink of closure with a bright idea that started as a class project.
Maggie Matthews’ parents own the New Horizon Farm and the Happy Cows Creamery in New Vienna which was started 60 years ago by her grandfather.
Times became tough for the family in 2020 when milk prices dropped nearly 40 percent.
Maggie took a chance, expanding the farm’s presence online, and now business is booming.
“My parents were coming up with an exit strategy on how to kind of sell down the farm,” Matthews says.
Matthews, on the other hand, was coming up with a strategy of her own.
In High school, she was a part of the FFA Chapter and visited a farm that was bottling its own milk which inspired her during a class project.
“We had to create our own business and I created a milk bottling plant and so I had numbers and statistics and what the turnaround rate would be and profit margins,” Matthews explains of the project.
A project that won a national competition.
Her parents, including her mother Jackie Bickel, helped turn that class project into a reality. Bottling their milk and adding fun flavors along the way.
They would then sell it on Market Wagon, an online local farmer’s market delivered right to the customer’s front door.
Bickel says the timing of the pandemic actually worked in their favor.
“When we were getting ready to bottle, Gov. DeWine shut us down for two weeks and we were in panic mode and we listed everything on Market Wagon,” Bickel explains. “The milk and it was an overwhelming response because people were stuck inside and could not get out to the stores and we had milk that we needed to get to the consumer so it was a perfect match and we haven’t looked back since.”
Together, they moved full steam ahead and picked up a valuable lesson along the way.
“Don’t give up,” Matthews says. “There is a way if you really want to get it done.”
Matthews says she’s proud she was able to play a part in helping to save her family’s farm.
“It’s definitely kind of cool,” Matthews says. “Just because it wasn’t like a necessarily serious idea. At first, it was kind of like thrown out and joking around and to see it actually come to and see that we have products, like the milk that people are drinking is bottled by us and I can give it to my friends. It’s cool because like those are our cows.”
“We’re always talking about chasing dreams,” says Bickel. “Well, we like to catch our dreams and that’s kind of our new saying around here.”
Matthews says she wants their legacy to continue for generations.
Market Wagon delivers all across the U.S. and even has a warehouse in Cincinnati.
Along with milk, New Horizon Farm and Dairy also sells meat and beauty products, like soap, and lotions that are also made with milk.
This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.
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