Saying “I Do” Could Save a Family Farm
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
It’s so brilliant, we don’t know why we didn’t think of it!
A young MBA figured out a way to mesh two different industries to help both family farms and those about to say “I do.”
If you are planning a lovely wedding, here’s how you can save a family farm.
Where the Threshold Meets the Threshing Room
Despite growing interest in local farming, New England is still losing an average of 100 acres to developers each day. Taxes and upkeep alone can make it simply too expensive to farm.
Sam McElhinney, born and raised in Massachusetts and an avid lover of the outdoors, always wanted to find a way to conserve the open lands he so loved. It wasn’t until McElhinney, who was on the lumberjack team and president of the fishing club at Dartmouth College, reached his late 20s and he and many of his friends began planning their own weddings that the idea hit him.
“Traditional, professional event venues are built to more or less mass produce events,” says McElhinney. “I was away one weekend with friends at a farm and they were all talking about how generic weddings felt at these commercial event venues and I said why not just get married somewhere like this and create the entire thing to be the way you want?”
Some couples do get married on a farm owned by a family member or friend — but unless you know someone willing to do this as a one-time favor, getting a stranger to transform an old estate into a wedding venue poses many problems. McElhinney saw the opportunity in solving those problems: If he figured out the logistics, he could give small farms a low-time impact but high-value solution to getting the money they need all while giving couples a unique, customizable space for their wedding. McElhinney started Mayflower Venues, which touts an automated, intelligent technology system that enables these non-traditional spaces to use modern systems and tools to host a small number of weddings a year.
Match Made in Heaven
A number of the venues on our website had couples pulling up their driveway knocking on their barn door asking if they could have a wedding in their yard. They always turned them away because they had no idea how to figure out insurance, what price to charge, how to tell them what caterers would need. With a full-time job as a farmer, they couldn’t handle it.
So it’s not just a haphazard mesh of two industries – Mayflower Venues is doing all that work for them. It’s about creating an automated system that takes the guesswork out for the landowner and allows the couple to choose what they want without chaos. It pulls in the wedding industry as well. The platform has allowed 40 venues to hop on board and the company has dozens of events booked for 2018 and 2019.
Essentially, McElhinney is the venue coordinator. He said,
We identify these spaces and digitize them. We built this entire proprietary on-boarding app by working with a variety of expert wedding planners, caterers, and vendors to figure out what are the inputs couples will need and we collect all that info and create a comprehensive set of wedding planning tools specific to each venue’s eccentricities. We know how many feet of hose a caterer would need to reach the potable water spout at a historic family estate, for example, and the platform presents that information to the couple and their vendor at the right time.
And to keep the whole thing from turning into yet another commercialized factory, he added,
We only allow one wedding a weekend at each venue. We don’t want a wedding factory, we don’t want three weddings going into a small town in the Berkshires in 72 hours; but we do want one wedding going into a small town in the Berkshires because that’s great revenue, for catering and accommodations. We’re really excited about bringing this millennial revenue into rural America and that is a very sustainable action.
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This article (Saying “I Do” Could Save a Family Farm) was created by and appeared first at Natural Blaze. It can be reshared with attribution but MUST include link to homepage, bio, intact links and this message.
Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and food freedom activist. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner.
Photo by Ivan Cabañas