Marty Thomas signs all of his emails with an interesting tagline: “Software developer – Trying to be a farmer.” The two professions might not seem to go hand-in-hand, but after talking with Marty and perusing his website, Kakadoodle, there’s no doubt this interesting combination has yielded a unique solution.
Kakadoodle is an online marketplace and delivery service designed to make it easy and simple for farmers to sell their products directly to consumers. This idea alone is not unique. Particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve seen a massive increase in “digital farmers markets.” Since 2020, online grocery sales are up 233%, according to eMarketer. However, many farmers are worried about how farms will fare in marketplaces built by tech startups.
This is where being a software developer and novice farmer comes in handy.
Marty is working to build Kakadoodle from a farmer’s perspective as he works through the kinks selling eggs from his family’s farm. Rather than being just another online marketplace built by someone far from the agricultural community it is designed to help, Kakadoodle is a marketplace built by farmers for farmers right here in Illinois.
Marty and MariKate Thomas started Kakadoodle Farm, with their four kids in tow, in 2020. Neither had any farming experience, but after Marty was diagnosed with an “incurable cancer” that was miraculously cured, they had a new perspective on life and decided to follow their dreams by moving to a farm in Frankfort, Illinois.
Despite the abundance of advice they received to take it slow, their farm grew quickly from a couple of chickens to a much bigger, more diversified operation. Today, they have 80 hens, a budding flower business, and a smattering of other hobbies including raising goats, pigs, and bees. Once the Kakadoodle website was launched and they began selling their eggs for delivery, Marty and MariKate were shocked at how quickly they sold out. It seemed that when they made it convenient to buy local food, customers jumped at the opportunity. Today they’re delivering thousands of eggs to customers’ doorsteps every week.
Yet, they’re still not meeting all of the demand. Marty was left wondering – how can we get more eggs?
With this simple question, Marty ventured into the vast and complicated world of land access in Illinois. He’s at maximum capacity on his land with 80 hens on five acres. However, there is no land near enough to his current acres where he could expand. Not one to give up easily, Marty contacted our team at Northeast Illinois FarmLink with a new idea:
Kakadoodle will partner with like-minded farmers looking to start or expand pasture-raised egg operations. Kakadoodle will provide the hens and the feed. The farmer will provide the labor and delivery to Kakadoodle’s “distribution center,” also known as Marty’s garage. Kakadoodle would then pay the farmer a set price for each dozen eggs. The ideal farmer would have land and infrastructure to care for 50+ chickens. However, Marty also thinks this could be a great option for a beginning farmer in need of a guaranteed source of revenue each month. They’re currently trying out this model with two farms and are actively looking to partner with additional farmers. Since 2021, Kakadoodle has grown their customer base to 122 households. Their goal is 1,000, but to continue to grow they’re going to need more eggs.
Marty invites any interested farmers to contact him and learn more at his profile on our website.
This enterprise opportunity is a bit of an unconventional listing for Northeast Illinois FarmLink. However, we feel creative, revenue-generating partnerships are integral to successful land access in Illinois, and we want to be a clearinghouse where people can explore new possibilities. Kakadoodle Farm is offering farmers a potentially profitable enterprise that could help them have the financial strength to have more secure land tenure.