Team building doesn’t have to mean awkward hours in a cramped room or fearing for your life on a ropes course. Woodhaven Farm is re-imagining what corporate team building can be through cooking. It’s just one of the services that owner Tami Cecil offers from her 10-acre farm near Johnstown.
Started in 2000, Woodhaven Farm’s sprawling property features two ponds, an organic garden, greenhouse, outdoor kitchen, walking trails and barn with meeting and state-of-the art kitchen spaces. It’s a far cry from the corporate, stockbroker world in which Cecil lived before taking a culinary turn. From stockbroker to restaurateur, she sold her restaurant and completed a stint with the Cameron Mitchell family of restaurants before heading to the farm. Although she might have taken a round-about way to get there, Cecil knew that being in the kitchen was just in her DNA.
“Everything in our world growing up revolved around a kitchen,” she says. Her mom was a phenomenal cook, rounded out by a dad and brothers that liked hunting and fishing, and her own time spent out in the garden or in the kitchen.
Since following her love for for the culinary, Cecil has been bringing people together through the one thing that is said to unite us all – food.
“It’s much easier to build a relationship around food than it is a computer screen,” Cecil says. “When you’re cooking and dining with folks, it brings it back to probably one of the most pure forms of communication there is.”
Corporate team building is the primary focus of the farm.
“It’s a way for groups to get together outside of the office and outside of traditional team building,” Cecil says. “And get them out here to the country [and] get them all working together to prepare a couple of recipes.”
Up to 60 members of an organization can separate into teams to work together and prepare a gourmet meal. Businesses can also select more adventurous team building exercises like going for an herb treasure hunt in the garden.
“We have a huge room that can be used for meeting spaces as well,” Cecil adds.
Woodhaven farms also offers casual, social dinner parties. Whether for a bridal shower, birthday, family get together or anything in between, “The menu is predetermined with the client and everybody comes out and we all put on our aprons and get in the kitchen,” Cecil says. She’ll put on some music and guests spend a few hours cooking and then enjoying one of the many menus prepared at the farm.
The farm rounds out their offerings with hands-on, themed cooking classes every month. This month’s theme is vegetarian, next month’s, chocolate. March is slated for an early spring celebration using early herbs from the grounds.
“We try to cook seasonally because we do have so much produce here at the property,” Cecil says. If it’s not grown there, they source as locally as they can, frequenting area farmers markets in the summer.
Cecil says most of their advertising is word of mouth and repeat customers make up an estimated 60 percent of their business, but one way they do reach new clientele is through Experience Columbus.
Woodhaven Farm joined about six or seven years ago and, “It’s a great way to market your business to other people,” Cecil says. The organization provides a group of like-minded business owners, serious about what they are doing and willing to support each other.
Cecil also gives high regards to the staff.
“They are so proactive,” she says. “They help market your business without you even having to ask them at times.” Being listed on Experience Columbus’ website and other such resources have helped drive referral traffic to Woodhaven. Cecil says the organization has a long history of really being able to put a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the Columbus area.
For more information, visit woodhavenfarm.com.