Fun, Food, and Family at the Farm
A Look at the Success of Niederman Family Farm
Nestled in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, Niederman Family Farm welcomes you with charm, scenic views, and a rich, decades-long legacy. Founded in 1948, the Niederman family has been working their farm for four generations. In that time, the farm has made the transition from a traditional farm to an agritourism destination.
Heading up much of the farm’s transformation has been Bob and Bethann Niederman. After marrying in 1988, the couple returned to the farm to help care for the animals and crops, while raising their own children. When the rising costs of farming became more challenging, the couple sought out new ways for the community to engage with the farm. In 2000, their first venture was adding Paintball Country. The largest paintball facility in the tri-state area, it caters to groups who enjoy a sense of competition in the great outdoors. With 10 different playing fields varying from wooded terrain to open speedball fields, guests are thrilled with the adventure in the pursuit of becoming the winning team. It offered a year-round attraction that would bring in guests and revenue for the farm. In 2001, the farm expanded its efforts further into fall seasonal attractions with a pumpkin patch and corn maze. In addition, the family would also host a Christmas Walk display of lights. Over time, things continued to evolve into holding field trips, church and business picnics, birthday parties, and other community events. There is also a wedding venue that was added, which is run by other family members. The family’s focus remained on giving others the opportunity to make memories on the farm. Sadly, tragedy struck the Niederman family in 2011 when Bob lost a hard-fought battle with cancer. Bethann and the kids felt the best way to honor Bob’s legacy of faith, love, and life was to continue his dream for future generations.
The Role of Food
As the farm’s seasons expanded so did the role of food. “Concessions are very important,” stressed Bethann. In fact, she estimates they account for 25% of the receipts. Bethann recognized early on that the food they served would impact the business. With Paintball Country, they first started with pizza. Then through consultation with Gold Medal, they were introduced to the wide variety of fun foods. The primary focus was heavy on prepackaged foods that were easily served and would appeal to the young and active demographic. Nachos and cheese and slush drinks were favorites. For the fall pumpkin patch and corn maze, Bethann wanted to give guests an experience that they couldn’t get anywhere else. For seasonal treats, they turned to apple cider slushie (Frusheez®), kettle corn, funnel cakes, and hand-dipped caramel apples. The key factors when considering a menu item are quality, consistency, and ease of prep. Bethann wanted to be confident that the recipes would perform well. Other items were added to the menu over time including cotton candy, donuts, hot dogs, chicken strips, fries, and pulled pork. “You have to try different things and see what works,” Bethann advised. She always looks for ways to upgrade the experience. One example is funnel cakes. She enjoyed taking a traditional funnel cake and topping it with fruit toppings and whipped cream. Not only is it fun for the customers, but it also offers the farm the opportunity to sell at a premium price. Slushies remain some of the best-sellers for the farm, with apple cider in the fall and sweet tea in summer. This year, Easter was unseasonably cold, but they made the best of it by creating a hot chocolate drink they nicknamed “Bunny Brew,” topped with a rabbit marshmallow peep and whipped cream. Concessions in general are in high demand year-round. “We sell more than we can make,” shared Bethann.
Bethann is quick to credit Gold Medal for the farm’s success in concessions. “Our sales rep and driver are the keys to our success. They take care of us, answer questions, offer recommendations, and fulfill our equipment and supply needs. They’ve even caught our ordering mistakes and kept them from becoming a problem.” She also appreciates participating in the Fun Food Expo events that Gold Medal holds on an annual basis. “It’s great to go and get new ideas,” Bethann remarked.
Even briefly talking with Bethann, you get a sense of the community spirit of Niederman Family Farm. They work proactively with other farms in the area such as pumpkin growers to support their efforts. Horses are brought in as well for farm visits and hayrides. They’ve hosted craft events with local vendors. And they even made an online store during the pandemic for ordering comfort foods like donuts, jams and jellies, and fry pies. Many of the items were made by other local farms.
In March, Niederman hosted an event where 300 farms from across the country visited and toured their farm to learn about attractions, concessions, and general operations. They learn, receive new ideas, and improve by networking and sharing perspectives.
A Year-Round Focus
Fall may be the farm’s busiest season, bringing in about 80% of the business for the year. But the efforts are year-round to be successful. Planning starts in January, then they visit other farms through March. April, they already start ordering jar goods for fall. And by July at the latest, they are placing orders for the fall. They’ve created events to help stretch out the season like sunflowers in August and farm play dates in June. Finding new ways to meet the needs of the community is important. Bethann is always actively looking for new ideas that will bring a wow-factor to guests. The long-term goal is for the farm to continue offering family-friendly fun that makes memories, while also educating about the importance of agriculture.
To learn more about Niederman Farm, please visit niedermanfamilyfarm.com or follow them on Facebook.
And for more on maximizing your concession stand sales, check out Making Food the Main Attraction.