We believe in the power of music.Our goal is to support musicians with high quality instruments that spark greater creativity, independence, and joy.
We believe in being original.We aren’t afraid to be different and offer our own takes on the traditional. We independently design and build each instrument in our shop.
We believe in hard work.We are a family, not a factory, and are giving this everything we’ve got. We take great pride and satisfaction in how we work and what we create.
Founder + Designer + Builder
Pete is the brains behind all Farmer Foot Drum instruments and single-handedly turned his ideas into a full-time business, despite being a self-taught musician, craftsman, and businessman. Pete has been drawn to music his entire life and stumbled in to the world of foot percussion in his twenties. He then started making and playing his own creations for friends and busking on the streets of Seattle, his home town. Although he now spends most of his time working in the shop and doesn’t get to play as much music as he would like, he is very fulfilled knowing that his creations are helping others find their sound and captivate audiences in new ways.
Office Manager + Communication + Website
After casually helping Pete for years, Kate officially joined the business in 2014 and now works alongside him to make this a true family-run operation. The yin to Pete’s yang, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day tasks of running a small business and gets a kick out of things like spreadsheets and organized binders. Her ten years working as an elementary school teacher give her lots of experience running a tight ship; now she keeps track of the books, communicates with customers, built and maintains the website, and many other jobs.
Builder + Shipping + Drummer + Photographer
Michael began as a part-time builder in 2015 and quickly became an essential part of the team. He now works full-time building instruments and getting orders boxed and processed for shipping. As a working drummer and sound engineer, he gives valuable insights on the design, function, and sound of all of our instruments. A man of many talents, Michael is also responsible for all of the photography on our website.
Tom joined on in the summer of 2016 to work with Pete building FootDrums. He has taken this complex job on with the focus of a dedicated craftsman and has worked closely with Pete to fine-tune the design and build process. Tom plays guitar and sings in a favorite local band, is a DJ on a community radio station, and brings his experience as a small-business owner to our team.
The History of Farmer Foot Drums
The Farmer FootDrum, the flagship of Farmer Musical Instruments, was first conceived while Pete was listening to John Lee Hooker in his wood shop in 2003. Pete liked his toe-tapping percussion but wondered if it would be possible to create a richer, more dynamic sound. He sketched out a rough design for a foot-played acoustic drum kit with multiple sounds. Using portability, great sound, and durability as the guiding principles in the design, he eventually constructed a crude contraption. Pete built it for himself and enjoyed busking around Seattle and playing for friends. Improving the design quickly turned from hobby to full-fledged passion (some might say obsession).
He decided to officially start up his own business in the fall of 2005 after hearing many people ask to buy it out from under his feet. After launching Farmer Foot Drums, he still worked by day as a high school teacher and spent his nights and weekends toiling away in a rented single car garage to advance his designs. In 2008, the universe (or at least the economy) conspired and pushed him into the business full time. While it certainly felt like a leap of faith, he knew he had the passion and drive to make it happen. Moreover, the encouragement and support from strangers, family, and friends alike spurred him on.
After too many long days alone in the cold, crowded garage, he decided he needed help and was lucky to find Kerry Carlson of Innovative Manufacturing in Ferndale, Washington. Kerry had the tools, knowledge, and generous spirit to bring his business and products to a higher level. Kerry unveiled a new world of parts, machines, jigs, catalogs, and contraptions that lead to a much better product made with less waste and time. In addition to refining the FootDrum, Pete had the tools and space to dream up additional instruments. Farmer Foot Drums grew to include a full product line of several portable instruments that range in complexity and price.
In 2013, Pete’s wife Kate gave birth to twins and had to take a break from her teaching career. Pete was overwhelmed by the needs of his growing business and family. These circumstances lead to joining forces officially, with Kate joining the business to take care of as much as possible so that Pete can focus on what he does best: designing and building instruments. The family and business moved to beautiful Northern Michigan in 2014 where they have built a bigger workshop, hired a first employee, and are enjoying being a part of the thriving local music scene.
More About Us…
Up North Magazine Feature (November 2015) “Farmer Foot Drums Sell Worldwide from Cedar”by Tom Carr
Glen Arbor Sun Article (June 2015) “The Beat on Success of Farmer Foot Drums” by Samantha Graves.
Interlochen Public Radio Story (May 2015) Story by Tom Carr on the arts and culture program “The Green Room.”
Traverse City Ticker Article (April 2015) “Truly The Beat of His Own Drum” by Nick Beadleston
Grand Traverse Insider Article (August 2014) “Entrepreneurial Spirit, with a Courageous Beat” by Jeffray Kessler
Pete’s Fulfillament Talk (January 2015) This was an inspiring storytelling event where Pete was one of six local business community members who took the stage and talked about how they found fulfillment in their journey – without sugarcoating it.
Live Your Passion Podcast with guest Pete Farmer (December 2014) Host DJ Waldow chats with everyday people about their passion and their path to getting there and how they maintain it.
Pete and Kate playing music together in the very early days of the FootDrum and the business (2007).