Thank you Culver’s!
Update- July 2020
When I wrote this post back in 2013, it was shortly after Panera Bread had released a new marketing campaign that didn’t sit well with me and many other farmers. Here we are 7 years later and there have been countless other brands that have cast farmers as dumb, lazy, irresponsible or greedy in their marketing campaigns.
During that same amount of time, Culver’s has grown their Thank You Farmers Project. They have collected and delivered thank you notes for farmers from students and restaurant guests. More importantly, they have donated over $2 million dollars to agriculture education programs. Learn more about this incredible initiative by clicking HERE.
Last year they sent out hundreds of free meals to farmers across Wisconsin. Last week I received a gift thanking me for the effort I put in to reach out to consumers. All of these reasons combined with their delicious food are why I will continue to support Culver’s.
Original 2013 post.
While my blog has been consumed by the negative ad campaign that Panera Bread is pushing, I am not a negative kind of person. What I would rather focus my time and energy on is the cool stuff in the world vs the stuff that just kind of sucks. While the #PluckEZChicken campaign was gearing up, a very different campaign was also getting the wheels under it, and it’s hard for me not to love Culver’s for this idea!
For those of you who don’t know what Culver’s is, let me explain. Culver’s is a restaurant chain that started here in Wisconsin that has now spread across the country (You can find a Culver’s near you by clicking HERE). They are known for their super tasty frozen custard and their delicious butter burgers. Back in 1984 the Culver family opened its first restaurant in Sauk City Wisconsin. The Culver family has strong ties to the dairy industry of our state, so it was natural for their restaurant to feature the very best products that our farms produce. That connection to the roots of their food has led to one of my favorite things on the planet today, the “Culver’s Barn”.
Why yes, that is a big blue barn painted with gigantic letters, thanking farmers! How cool is that?
Culver’s had the awesome idea to launch a campaign that thanked farmers for the hard work that they do. As part of the campaign, they decided that they needed to find the perfect barn and an agreeable barn owner to paint their thank you on. Can you imagine that conversation? Knock, knock: “Hi I’m from Culver’s, can we paint your barn blue and write a note on it?”… After several road trips and a few awkward conversations, this barn on Hwy 151 near Beaver Dam, Wisconsin was selected for a transformation.
Since Beaver Dam isn’t very far from our farm I decided to take a little field trip and see the barn for myself, I sent an email to Culver’s letting them know that I wanted to write a blog about this project and they were kind enough to send out Paul Pitas to tell me the story of what this whole campaign is really about.
So not only did Culver’s go through the expense of painting this barn, they have taken their appreciation to the next level. For every person who uses their facebook app to send a thank you note to farmers, Culver’s will donate $1 to the National FFA Organization. Check out what they are doing in 2020 HERE. They are going all the way up to $50,000 for 50,000 thank you notes. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.
But they didn’t stop there, almost all of the 485 (740+ in 2020) Culver’s restaurants are taking part in the Thank You campaign. In individual stores, there will be canisters out collecting donations and some are selling and hanging up the paper signs you can sign your name on, all of that money will be given to local FFA chapters. Even the kids can get in on the giving back, donating the “Scoopie” tokens from their kid’s meals back to the restaurant, for a donation to the FFA. I’m not a parent but I think that sounds like a pretty cool way to teach kids about giving back to their communities.
Some people may think that a farmer telling people to thank farmers isn’t the right way to do things. They may have a point. But as a farmer and a customer, just like the rest of us, I am extremely thankful that I don’t have to grow every scrap of my own food. I don’t have to know how to grow mushrooms, rice or cranberries or how to take care of turkeys and yet, come thanksgiving they are all on our table, because of the work of other farmers. So Thank You Farmers! You Rock!