In 1995, Diana Endicott and her husband Gary were living in Dallas, Texas, where they operated Rainbow Landscape Management. But, southeast Kansas, where they grew up, beckoned, so they moved back to their farming roots. They bought a 400-acre farm near Bronson, called it Rainbow Organic Farms (ROF) and began raising beef cattle and growing vegetables. From the start, their goal was to run a self-sustaining farm and produce their own food in a way that would reflect their principles of living ecologically and self-sufficiently. They were committed to growing “natural” food free from hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. In addition to raising cattle, they started one greenhouse and soon added another three and focused on growing tomatoes.
When the Endicotts had a bumper crop in 1997 and had exhausted their existing sales channels, they either had to find a new outlet or risk having the entire crop go to waste. At that time, grocery stores were not in the business of selling locally grown food because it was too costly and inefficient to find small, local suppliers who could meet the demand volume. Food was bought through brokers who could source from all over the world based on price. The typical sales channels for locally grown food had been the local farmer’s markets, which were viable but had limited scale.