Farm to Family Table

How one Boulder-area rancher is weathering the pandemic.

Three white sheep standing in field looking at the camera.
How are ewe doing? / Buckner Family Farm

Buckner Family Farm, which is owned and operated by Clint and MaryKay Buckner, is a family-run ranch located in northern Boulder County that honors the area’s agricultural roots. The Buckners focus on farm-to-table ranching and farming, providing high-quality, responsibly raised lamb, pork and beef that has been raised on a 100 percent grass-fed diet. Before COVID, Buckner Family Farm primarily sold to wholesale restaurant customers, but in the midst of the pandemic, it’s shifted to incorporate a direct-to-consumer approach. Here’s what Clint Buckner had to say about the change.

DiningOut: How have sales been in 2020? Has your revenue been impacted by the pandemic? 

Clint Buckner: Early on we decided to sell wholesale only. We’ve always specialized in selling direct to restaurants, so during the pandemic sales dipped considerably. At this point, they are still down from last year because of restaurant shutdowns. Many small farmers and ranchers decided to sell to farmers markets because it’s a higher profit margin. In the past, we serviced local restaurants during the week. We were forced to regroup and sell direct with COVID because of the impact on the restaurant industry. It was a difficult transition which included a lot of work, and smaller sales, but it’s been tough on everyone.

My milkshake brings all the cows to the yard. / Buckner Family Farm

DO: Have you made any changes to services or day-to-day operations in the midst of COVID? 

CB: We had to start packaging differently during the pandemic. On top of that, we had to figure out how to sell our product. At first, people were driving [to us] to pick up [orders], but even this was creating a bit of congestion at the ranch. We stopped doing tours at the ranch. Now, we’re doing direct home deliveries. Being a small ranch has always been, and continues to be, tough. 

DO: Does it seem like the pandemic may have a lasting impact on the amount of locally sourced meat households and restaurants are using? 

CB: We weren’t selling direct before, so all of our direct customers are new to us, but it seems like more people are buying locally sourced meat now. Especially in Boulder, the movement was already there, but COVID has accelerated it. People really want to support local farms and want to know where their meat is coming from.

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