Jan 15, 2022
For over a decade Raven & Boar Farm in East Chatham has been running a unique and successful operation focused on heritage pork raised in open pasture and forest.
For over a decade Raven & Boar Farm in East Chatham has been running a unique and successful operation focused on heritage pork raised in open pasture and forest. They have their own approved processing facility on site, through which they make a delicious high-end line of products through their Hudson Valley Charcuterie brand. Hudson Valley Charcuterie produces small batch artisanal product lines of charcuterie and sausages exclusively from the pigs raised at Raven & Boar Farm.
Though owner Ruby Duke-Metzner runs a tight ship, when a major shift in her business structure took place, as a partner left the business, Duke-Metzner called HVADC to get help restructuring, while taking a deep dive into her financials.
“An important part, for me, was knowing I had to ask for help,” Duke-Metzner said. “Which is hard to do but I had to go to HVADC to take the next step in making a business plan I could trust and believe in. They offered the technical and financial assistance I needed over the past year. It’s been an amazing process.”
Through the Incubator Without Walls program HVADC provided Duke-Metzner with assistance from attorney Megan Harris-Pero, who helped restructure the LLC and the buyout of the former partner. HVADC also provided funding for Duke-Metzner to work with Farm Credit East to do a thorough business valuation so the complex legal process went smoothly.
With the legal issues sorted and a clear understanding of her business’ value, Duke-Metzner, and bookkeeper Alison Hester were then able to work with frequent HVADC collaborator and financial advisor Julia Shanks, thanks to funding from HVADC partners Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the Columbia Economic Development Corporation. Together they took a deep dive into the farms financials to understand how cash flow and expenses were actually functioning.
“This farm was built on sweat equity and runs on sweat equity,” said Duke-Metzner. “To know what we can and can’t afford to do is really important. Every time I’ve reached out to HVADC I’ve learned so much. I’ve been so fortunate to have them as an asset.”
Because Raven & Boar had previously invested in becoming their own certified meat processer they were in a great position when COVID hit and created a bottleneck at processing facilities for most livestock farmers. Duke-Metzner said she was in a good position but when the business structure changed she knew she couldn’t move forward with confidence without consulting HVADC.
“HVADC worked with Ruby Duke-Metzner years ago to provide Business Technical Assistance through the Incubator Without Walls program and we were so happy to hear from her again,” said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “Raven & Boar’s experience is a testament to the fact that farmers don’t need to be in crisis to ask for help. Moments when a farm is navigating change and growth are some of the best times to consider talking to an advisor to make sure your compass is level.”
Raven & Boar has continued to wow customers through their Hudson Valley Charcuterie line of hyper-seasonal sausages and porchetta. You can find them at local farmers markets, specialty markets and farm stands across the region such as those of other HVADC clients, MX Morningstar and Talbott and Arding.
“HVADC has really offered up a platform to look at my business from a new perspective,” Duke-Metzner said. “It’s cool to be a part of this living ecosystem of support. I hope other farmers can feel comfortable asking for help.”
To learn more about the Business Technical Assistance services that HVADC provides through its Incubator Without Walls program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/incubator-without-walls.