Small Biz Spotlight
Hip Chick Farms Combines Family & Food
By Jessie Wagoner
Hip Chick Farms is serving up beautiful food created with fresh, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. The company, founded by Jennifer Johnson and Serafina Palandech, combines their love of family and food.
Chef Jen has over 25 years experience as a chef. She spent 10 years as a chef at Chez Panisse, one of the first restaurants focused on the farm to table movement. She then spent another 16 years as the executive chef for Gordon and Ann Getty. The Getty family hosted a school in their home so in addition to cooking for the family, Chef Jen also cooked for the children every day — earning their accolades for her chicken fingers.
It was when they had a child of their own that the pair decided to commit to country life. “We have a daughter who is almost seven,” Serafina said. “After she was born we really wanted her to grow up on a farm. We wanted to live out our beliefs around sustainable food systems and grow our own food and raise our own animals.”
The couple bought a farm in northern California and launched Hip Chick Farms. Chef Jen creates the beautiful food using transparently sourced products which serves as delicious meals for other busy families.
“Basically every kid loves a chicken nugget and every parent we know is relatively suspicious about what goes into a chicken nugget,” Serafina said. “So we want to make this beautiful clean alternative for folks.”
Hip Chick Farms launched just over four years ago and has experienced tremendous growth since that time. The rapid growth has presented some unique obstacles for the couple to navigate. They have learned about sourcing from producers throughout the country while still remaining true to their mission of maintaining 100 percent natural products.
“We are very concerned about the way the animals are raised,” Serafina said. “Our company philosophy is based on three basic principles. One is compassion, in particular for the animals and animal welfare. Another is transparency — We are very transparent about what we put into our products and how we make them. And finally trust — We are trying to form a relationship of trust with folks out there buying our products.”
The public responded with enthusiasm when Hip Chick Farms launched. This year alone the company will increase sales five times greater than 2016. Serafina attributes the welcome response and public demand for Hip Chick Farms products to the public’s desire to know what is in their food and where it comes from.
“There is a huge demand for organic, non GMO, humanely certified products,” Serafina said. “People increasingly care about what they are eating. There has been a dramatic increase in folks wanting to have access to organic and clean protein in particular.”
All Hip Chick Farms products are organic and/or antibiotic free, humanely certified by an independent certified agency, transparently sourced, 100 percent all natural and free of fillers, preservatives and stabilizers. Additionally, the products have undergone testing by some of the pickiest eaters out there—children.
“I’ve had the opportunity of cooking for Presidents, Kings, Queens, celebrities and the pickiest group possible —children,” Johnson said. “We are definitely picky eater approved.”
Embarking on this journey has exposed Chef Jen and Serafina to the need for more farmers in general but especially organic farmers. There is a large demand from the public for farm to table food. School systems, restaurants and families want to know where their food comes from and how it is raised. Serafina says with the increase in demand there are steps we all can take to support farming.
“We can all be farmers,” Serafina says. “Even if we just raise a pot of tomatoes, there is a growth in urban farming that is amazing. We can all do small acts that increase our connection to the earth by raising vegetables and herbs.”
One connection which has proved incredibly beneficial for Hip Chick Farms is the Cultivating Change Foundation—an organization focused on cultivating LGBT agriculturalists.
“It has been a great resource to really know that we are not alone,” Serafina said. “The cool thing about Cultivating Change is it connected me with a lot of other LGBT farmers and we have been able to share resources. We aren’t alone. The relationships and the sense of community is great.”
Organic chicken fingers, chicken meatballs, gluten-free chicken nuggets and turkey burgers are a few of the Hip Chick Farms products people are gobbling up. The products are available at Kroger and as of August 2017 are available nationwide at Wal-Mart.
“We want our products available to every kid in America,” Serafina said. “We want a Hip Chick Chicken Nugget in every freezer in America.”
Cultivating Change Foundation Celebrating Agriculture. Celebrating People.
The Cultivating Change Foundation, a 501(c)(3), is aimed at valuing and elevating LGBT agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community. The Foundation has grown since its launch in 2015, stretching its roots to new parts of rural and urban America. In the past twelve months, the White House invited the foundation to participate in a national discussion about advancing LGBT progress in rural America.
The Cultivating Change Foundation continues to help shape conversations from a national platform in order to reach a broad audience and promote positive change for LGBT individuals and allies across the agriculture industry. The Students for Cultivating Change on the campus of Pennsylvania State University launched the Foundation’s first collegiate program and started a long over due dialogue of valuing and elevating collegiate LGBT students through agriculture. And, regional Cultivating Change Receptions have celebrated with hundreds of individuals from major cities; expanding its grassroots approach of building a global network by connecting the past, present, and future generations of LGBT agriculturists and allies.
The 4th Annual Cultivating Change Summit will take place June 20 – 22, 2018 in Des Moines, IA. Over 200 global agriculture leaders and partners will join together to share strategies and best practices to create a community inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions within the food, fiber, and natural resources industry. To learn more information about the foundation, visit www.cultivatingchangefoundation.org.
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Cultivating Change Foundation