Conversation with Cathy Powell Cavender from Monrovia Farm, Colonial Beach, VA

On the morning of October 17th I got in my car and drove 4 hours to conduct an interview about direct sales. The interview exceeded my expectations and made that drive entirely worth it. The information I learned was great, and hearing Cathy Powell Cavender’s story about their family farm warmed my heart.

Cathy Cavender was born and raised on her family’s farm. She decided, when it came to building a life for herself she would move away from home. She built her life in North Carolina with her husband, but soon it came time for one of her family members to return to the family farm and work with her aging father; she decided she would make the move.


Upon returning to the farm, she realized that not all operations on the farm were covering input costs, so Cathy and her husband looked for ways to improve profit margins for existing farm operations. The family farm originally was only selling their beef cattle through another company like Sysco that is a multinational corporation involved in marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and other foodservice and hospitality businesses.

The Cavender’s decided to dive into direct sales, and Cathy Cavender believes that was the best decision they could have made to increase profits on their family farm.

Selling direct to restaurants is a full-time job, but, according to Cathy Cavender, it allows the family to set their beef at prices that cover all costs and include a reasonable profit.  Cathy currently sells direct to around six restaurants all across Virginia and is looking to expand by increasing her advertising efforts by using more marketing tactics. Currently, she uses Facebook and word of mouth to advertise.

One of the biggest problems she faces in direct sales is that restaurants will be interested in having farm fresh food on their menu, but not realize that it is completely different than ordering through a company. The quality is better, but she cannot provide multiple cases of one cut of beef at a time like a company would since she has only so many beef cattle on her farm.

The benefits of direct sales outweigh the negatives. Cathy says the best moment is when she takes her dad to a restaurant, that her sister owns, and they eat a steak that is from their own farm.  It is so rewarding for the Cavender’s to enjoy the work they do, and see the creations that chefs come up with from their own beef cattle.

The wisdom and story behind Monrovia Farm excited me; it made me eager to gain more knowledge on farm to fork in upcoming interviews and through the market trainings. I encourage you to learn more about farm-to-fork and Monrovia Farms by visiting their website

Emilie VanDyke
Monrovia Farm
October 17, 2016