121 Farmhouse Kitchen: Power of Local Products

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Ashland Bell lives and works with her husband, Mitchell, and daughter, Hadlee, on the family farm near Warrensburg in #Agri-Ready Designated Johnson County. Growing up on a family farm, Ashland learned a lot from her mother’s entrepreneurship. She started her career with an agriculture corporation, but seasons of change left Ashland unemployed and needing an income. In response, Ashland went home and began baking in 2013 and has discovered the POWER of local products.

Ashland began selling simple, traditional baked items at local farmer’s markets. As her items quickly became popular, she set up an online Etsy store. Experiencing unexpected growth, by 2020, Ashland found herself shipping loaves of bread to Hawaii, Alaska, Maine, and hundreds of points in between. In a single week, she baked and shipped seventy-five loaves. In response to growth, Ashland began providing front porch pick-up for her local customers. The phenomenal local response was proof that her planned business model could succeed. Her dream of building a sustainable business over two years came true in just two short months. The arrival of summer necessitated coolers to keep Ashland’s perishable products safe for her pick-up customers. She purchased a 10 x 12 garden shed and 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market was born. 

121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market is an on-farm retail market, located on the Bell family farm, and offers customers the convenience of being open 365 days a year, with self-service check out. Whether customers are shopping for daily needs, wanting milk, eggs, or bread on holidays, fresh bacon early on Sunday mornings, or staples after regular store hours, the 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market can meet their needs. The store is a Missouri Grown and Buy Missouri business outfitted with coolers, freezers, and shelves offering products grown and made in Missouri. Ashland partners with multiple local farmers to offer locally made gifts as well as locally grown, fresh, seasonal produce, plants, milk, eggs, cheese, beef, pork, chicken, rabbit and much more. The market, now housed in a larger building, contains the self-service store and a commercial kitchen where Ashland still bakes.

At 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market, customers choose the products they wish to purchase and write the names and prices of the items on provided envelopes. They can pay with exact cash in the envelope, or electronic and card payments are accepted. 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market serves the local community, since the nearest grocery store is 12 miles away, and is also a destination retail shop for many customers traveling through. Most customers are greeted by Ashland or one of her employees popping out of the kitchen to chat about local products. 

“Customers without an agriculture background have the most questions about poultry, pork, and eggs,” Ashland said. “We share with customers exactly how locally sourced products are raised and harvested. I educate and train my employees to engage in food questions with our customers. We are glad to answer tough questions about things like GMOs and animal welfare. After thoughtful conversations, our customers are comfortable with every purchase they make at 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market. The conversation and information that we provide is a huge added value to our products.”

Ashland’s homestyle baked treats and staples are offered at 121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market. When asked what has made her baking famous, Ashland had an unexpected answer. 

“We’re not a donut shop,” Ashland said. “You don’t often find the exact same bakery item in my store two days in a row. We change recipes based on the season and customer requests. What makes our baking unique is that it is homestyle. It is all done from scratch. Customers often say things to me like ‘My grandma used to make zucchini bread, and this tastes just like she used to make.’ My baking is traditional and simple and that’s what makes it stand out.”

121 Farmhouse Kitchen Market is Ashland’s full-time job. Mitchell works off-farm and helps operate a family cow-calf operation. The family are members of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, a partner of Missouri Farmers Care.