How Salmon Enterprises, a Local Farm, is Growing their Food Business

New Growth Staff
June 17, 2024

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022, beef prices rose and grocery shelves emptied. The Salmon family responded by selling ground beef from their farm in west central Missouri’s St. Clair County to neighbors and other people they knew.

Lawanna Salmon is a bookkeeper at rural Lakeland Schools. She described how she took orders from her coworkers and met them in the school’s parking lot. It looked like a “fast food drive through”with cars wrapped around the parking lot, she said.

Seeing the demand was strong, they knew selling beef in this way was possible but weren’t exactly sure how they were going to grow and expand. Direction came when they connected with New Growth, which introduced them to resources they might not have discovered on their own.

The Salmons were able to make a big leap in their business journey because of a grant that helped with the investment needed to package and distribute snack beef sticks, something they probably wouldn’t have been able to do right away without it. It paid for initial processing along with the design and purchase of essential tear-away boxes that make it possible to sell their beef sticks in grocery stores, now across the region. It’s a grant similar to the new Business Builder subaward grants coming soon from the Heartland Regional Food Business Center, a 5-state USDA funded program for which New Growth is a co-director.

Another connection and grant that made a big difference was the Farm to School Program. Jaclyn Carroll, New Growth Farm Business Counselor, connected the Salmons with local schools who had access to the grant to buy local food. But in order for schools to take advantage of the grant, they need to find the local farmers with food they want to purchase. Several local school districts started buying Salmon’s beef sticks for their snack programs as well as 10-pound sleeves of ground beef for their lunch programs.

Additionally, from programs like USDA’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement with the State of Missouri and community partnerships like Alliance of South West Missouri (ASWMO) and the Local Investment Commission (LINC), and the Kansas City Food Hub, the Salmons were introduced to even more purchasing connections. Now their beef sticks are part of several Kansas City area school districts snack programs on both sides of the state line.

Salmon Enterprises continues to sell directly to consumers through orders placed on their website. They alternate delivery Saturdays between the Polk County Farmers Market and the Farmers Market of the Ozarks. Their products include beef sticks, a variety of beef cuts, and soon-to-be-added subscription boxes and summer sausage.

Their business is a family affair. Lawanna said that Justin and Josh usually handle tasks on the farm, such as mending fences and watering the animals, while she and the girls deliver and sell the beef. Even their 11-year-old is knowledgeable enough about the business to run the booths at the farmers' markets if needed, Lawanna added.

When asked what it’s like to work with New Growth, Lawanna said, “New Growth has been so valuable to us as a go-to for brainstorming ideas, accessing connections, and learning about grants. Without New Growth we probably wouldn’t have ever thought about selling to restaurants, school districts, or grocery stores.”

New Growth is dedicated to connecting both farm and non-farm businesses to resources they may not know about so that businesses can succeed here faster, creating jobs and strengthening communities.

To connect with New Growth and the Heartland Regional Food Business Center, call, email, or visit the following resources:

Call us Monday thru Thursday, 8am-5pm, at 417-282-5936

Email us at

Visit the Heartland Center website

Learn more about the Business Builders Subaward Grant Program

Learn more about all of New Growth's Food Systems and New Growth's Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program

To purchase local beef products, visit Salmon Enterprises LLC