Jake Olson and Lauren Brettschneider are the founders and owners of Rebel Farm. They spend their lives fighting off bugs and growing produce in the Denver area in order to supply local restaurants with high-quality greens. However, with the recent and drastic changes in the restaurant industry, they have had to look elsewhere for business.
When the pandemic hit, they had overflowing amounts of produce going to waste and decided to open up to the retail side of business and donated a lot too. Some of their customers even included bears.
“We had so much right off the bat from things slowing down so drastically and so fast, that we’ve been donating to the Wildlife Sanctuary and they’re feeding our produce to the bears,” Olson said.
When they opened Rebel Farm in 2014, produce sold out almost immediately. They never considered selling elsewhere, since business was steady with large-name restaurants in the Denver area. They are hoping that their restaurant and catering customers will come back strong after their temporary closures.
“It’s not as busy as it was, I think it’ll be a slow climb back to normal,” he said. “But hopefully we’ll get there.”
Rebel Farm, like many small businesses across the country, has been figuring out how to make ends meet during a public health crisis. In addition to the Wildlife Sanctuary, looking to retail business might have been a temporary fix to restaurants suddenly shutting down, but many customers are hoping Rebel Farm will continue to sell their products even after life returns to normal.
“We weren’t planning on doing retail so we are trying to get out there and let them know we can do this,” Olson said. “It’s a hard thing to do.”
Up down and all over the place is how Olson describes business during a pandemic. Rebel Farm is not a certified organic farm because of pricy titles. Deciding to forego the expensive official certification, Olson and Brettschneider spend almost all their time fending off bugs for the decision to still continue organic practices.
“We follow organic practices as much as we can. We don’t use any chemicals and all of our seeds and plants are GMO-free,” he said.
As many people have rallied around local and small businesses within the past few months, Olson said the spirit of the community is what has been great to see. From out-of-state orders to new regular customers, Rebel Farm has seen some good during the unexpected times.
“It’s been super great to see communities pull together to help us and help other small businesses. I think there’s been a lot of great comradery with people and the local businesses they love,” Olson said.