Evan Rose & Dereck Price
These fourth-generation farmers have taken the meat market by the horns.
Written by Candace Nelson
Photographs by Scott Lituchy
They were pioneers of the "farm-to-table" movement before the "farm-to-table" movement was a thing.
West Virginia University students Evan Rose and Dereck Price, both of fourth-generation farm families, were raising the beef cattle that would ultimately become juicy cheeseburgers since age 8.
Rose and Price will join about 4,500 other West Virginia University students graduating during Commencement weekend May 15-17.
"Growing up farming, that's the norm," Rose said. "The 'farm-to-table' movement – when people started wanting local food – really increased demand for fresh, local, never frozen meat directly from the people raising it. And people like developing that relationship with the farmer to know where their food comes from."
Rose, a senior agribusiness management & rural development major from Hillsboro, and Price, an animal & nutritional sciences major from Belington, have spent the last half of their education working to create a business that will help make fresh, local meat readily available to consumers right in the Mountain State.
That's how "Country Roads Meat Market" was born.
As part of a Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design class, the pair was assigned a project to create a business. They crafted a plan to develop a market for West Virginia meat producers that would prevent farmers from having to ship livestock on trucks to the Midwest for processing. Instead, farmers could have their livestock processed locally and then have the product sold in an upscale – but old-school – meat market in town.
-- Fonda Holehouse
"These student entrepreneurs have got what it takes. They have the passion and drive to make something like this work – and everyone benefits."
Farmers would receive a better price for their product, and local consumers would
pay for a fresh, all natural product – all in a cool, open-window concept storefront.
"These student entrepreneurs have got what it takes," said Fonda Holehouse, associate professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics and associate director of the LaunchLab, the University's business startup resource center. "They have the passion and drive to make something like this work – and everyone benefits."
Rose and Price submitted their business plan to the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition , with "Country Roads Meat Market" making it to the final round.
While the duo did not win the $10,000 grand prize, they did receive skills, contacts
and motivation to continue with the market.
"It was a lot of work," Price said. "But we got so much out of it. It was a great learning experience, and we're still going to push forward."
The experience of going through the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition has only propelled Price and Rose to incorporate changes they've learned from the competition and fine-tune the idea so that it is ideal for the West Virginia landscape.
"This idea is tangible, and it can happen right here, right now," said Frank DeMarco, assistant professor and coordinator of the Hospitality and Tourism Program . DeMarco helped advise Price and Rose during the competition. "We know it can work."
Upon graduation, Rose will return to his Pocahontas County family farm, and Price will head to his farm in Barbour County. Together, the two are mulling options on where – not if – to continue the Country Roads Meat Market.
With investment offers in the business from different parts of the state, Rose and Price have their choice of where to go.
But, there's no question that it will be in West Virginia.
"One way or another, Country Roads Meat Market will be in business," Rose said.