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What Sesame Street Taught Me About Farming

farm baby

Our daughter Mabel. She’ll be 2 in July of this year. She loves to read, but Elmo is always welcome in the house!

As quasi-hippy parents raising our daughter Mabel, Kate and I don’t allow much TV in the house. Coming from a television production background myself, I don’t think all TV is bad, just a lot of it. If we’re going to let Mae watch TV it is going to be one of two shows, Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train.

I happen to love watching both of those shows now. Is it sad that Mabel will lose interest and I’ll still be sitting there watching? I say no, haha. Having now watched my fair share of Sesame Street I have come to appreciate the knowledge that they share through the use of puppets. It’s cute, it’s colorful, and it often carries a great message.

The Right Words at the Right Time

The right advice at the right moment in your life can make all the difference. Sometimes when you need something the most it presents itself in a way you never imagined.

It has been a tough winter on the farm. Pipes bursting, 110 year record low temperatures, trained farm staff quitting, financial pressure and stress, and your typical Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can all lead to a pretty depressing state of mind. I’ll be talking about it in the next farm podcast as well as touching on it in the next Farm Finance Challenge report.

I would say 6 our of every 7 days I have had to convince myself to not give it all up and leave. I have to remember that Spring will come, new staff will help relieve the pressure on me, and that I have a wonderful support system on farm. Even with all of that perspective some days all you want to do is throw your hands in the air, yell F*** IT, and get in the car and start driving in the opposite direction.

Enter Sesame Street

That Bruno Mars, what a guy!!! Mabel loves this song. She will run into my office when I’m working on something and pull on my desk chair saying “music… music…” Though coming from her 1-1/2 year old mouth it sounds like “mew-mick…mew-mick…”.

Farming is tough. There’s no way around it. But as the quote that I gave on the last podcast episode says, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

It is my passion and my job to make my farm work. Farming is my hard thing to do well. It is going to take time, it is going to take patience, and it going to take getting through the tough times and focusing instead on all the good that this life as to bring. After all, I am who I am.

What I am is a farmer, through and through.

I farm for my family, I farm for my community, and I farm for myself. It is important to always take stock of why you are doing something and to not lose that. No matter what your profession there will be challenges and you will want to quit at times. I may be one of the very few that is willing to openly talk about it though. I hope that my openness and candidness (is that a word? has to be a word) helps you in your journey and lends some perspective.

Farming is not all sunshine and roses. You’ll deal with financial stress, death, disease, grumpy customers, the forces of nature, and so much more. At times it will feel like the world is out to get you. But it’s not, tomorrow will come, and you will do what you have to do bring balance back into your life.

Take a lesson from Bruno and Will. You are who your are and DON’T GIVE UP!!!

Cheers!

GFP067: Farm Location and Branding Make All The Difference

growing farms podcastFarm marketing is really funny in that is can be very easy, or it can take a significant amount of effort. Today’s podcast showcases a good example of both. My guests today Patti & Rick from Breakwind Farm are a good example of choosing the right farm location as well as some really successful branding centered around humor. Camps Road Farm, my farm, is a good example of poor farm location and I’ll be honest, some boring branding.

Good/Bad Farm Location

When you’re starting your farm and you’re looking for land, an important thing to consider is how many cars pass by that spot in a given day. If it is in your farm plan to have any people acutally come to your farm then natural road traffic or “good road frontage” is pretty critical to getting started. If all you have to do is make your farm look inviting and put up a farm sign with what you’re offering you’re in good shape.

When you’re writing your farm business plan and figuring out how you are going to market your farm products, run some experiments. If you have the time and ability, set up some lawn chairs with a friend on the road in front of your farm and invest a day at different times of the year to count how many cars go by. I’m not kidding. I have been facing my own perceived reality vs. the actual numbers and sometimes it can shock you.

Once you have a number of cars at different some of the year you can calculate, “well, if 500 cars passed by, and I can get 10% of them to stop and spend $20 on average, then I can potentially gross $1000 on a Saturday (or whatever it is).” This can help you get an idea of how much to grow before you make the investment in the seeds and end up with a kitchen full of rotten tomatoes if you over produced.

That’s just an idea, I literally just made that up as I’m writing this. Did I do that for my farm? No, because there’s virtually no cars that drive by my farm. I’ve kept an eye on the road throughout the whole year, it never gets busy. Let’s get into my situation.

If you live in a backwoods section of town like I do, getting people to actually come to your farm is a whole different story. It is nearly impossible for me to get people to come to the farm on a regular basis. Even though I don’t feel the drive is that bad, it is just too far for some. What do I do about that? Enter my unfair advantage(s).

I have been doing a lot to encourage some more people coming to the farm. I’ve registered the farm location on Google Maps, I’ve hosted events here, I encourage sales here in the winter when farmers’ markets are slow, and I am constantlyinviting people up to “see the chickens”. In other words marketing marketing marketing.

I also have an on-farm brewery. We’re not currently zoned for brewery tours and tastings, so there’s only minor benefit of people randomly stopping in to try and snoop around (yes that happens, we lock our doors at night now). If there comes a day when the brewery is open to tours and tastings then the farm should see some increase of traffic as people are drawn to the brewery. I am working on my farm store and signage to best be able to cross-market to any increase of traffic that may come to the farm as a result of my marketing and the draw of the brewery.

What do do if you don’t have a brewery starting on your farm? Events and more complete offerings. I am hosting several events and workshops this year as taking more volunteer groups and doing more farm tours. If I give people a specific reason to get to the farm besides just coming to pick up a dozen eggs then my hope is that they’ll have a good time, realize the drive isn’t as bad as they thought, and then they’ll keep coming back. What I mean by “more complete offerings” is having more for sale than just eggs when they cometo farm. Even if I just grow enough vegetables (or whatever) to supply my farm store, having a more complete offering where people can come and get meat, eggs, veggies, and honey, then they have more of a reason to amke the trip. A “one stop shop” if you will.

Although Rick & Patti are known for their home-made baked beans, they have other seasonal products built into their farm to keep people coming back and spending time on their farm. They offer seasonal Christmas tress, pumpkins, mums, seed starting kits, hanging plants, and even gifts/activities for kids. They talk about all of that in the podcast episode.

It is in my farm plan, and I am starting it this year, to grow and offer more variety on farm. Not only do I want to feed my family with the variety of food I’ll grow, but I want to be able to provide a more complete diet for the customers who make the effort to come to the farm. Will this all work? We’ll find out in time. You can bet I’ll be talking about it here.

Funny/Bland Branding

I mean come on, Breakwind Farm, how can you not at least give a little chuckle when you hear that? Rick & Patti have built a fair amount of humor and satire into their farms’ branding. That humor has made them approachable, has made them a magnet for media, and has allowed them to sell baked beans with the name FARTOOTEMPTING. What do you get from the first four letters of that?

They are similar to Lucie of Locally Laid Egg Company. “Local chicks are better” and “Get locally laid” I mean, come on now. Their branding is good enough that they’re in Minnesota and I’ve heard of them over here in Connecticut.

Now Camps Road Farm is not bad branding, just a little bland branding. I didn’t choose it, and nothing against the guys who did, but it is a bit more work to get people to give a crap about Camps Road Farm. Camps Road Farm is located on Camps Rd. which is half a mile from the more locally famous Camps Flat Rd. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had the conversation of, “no no, not Camps Flat Rd., Camps Rd. If you keep going on Camps Flat you’ll reach Sawyer Hill and that leads to Camps Rd. a little further East.”

Am I saying that I would prefer a funny name? Honestly no, Camps Road Farm (CRF) works really well for our goals, and a brand can be what you make of it. While we’re not going to get the buzz of a name that has to do with farts or sex, we’ll instead earn our reputation from what we produce and the stories we tell. It takes longer and is more work, but fits well with our holistic goals.

What’s the take-away from all this? Pick a brand that you like and fits your personailty and the personality of your farm. A brand is only as good as the people behind it.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • finding an idea and running with it
  • accepting a challenge
  • the role location and branding play in your farm business
  • how to get people on your farm and keep them coming back
  • the role humor can have with your farm business (hopefully a big role)

Interview with Rick & Patti of Breakwind Farm

breakwind farm

 

Breakwind Farm is family run business. They started selling fresh vegetables, herbs, seasonal flowers and baskets, pumpkins and wreaths at a stand outside their house in 2009 and more recently at the Contoocook Farmers Market. They have enjoyed welcoming their new and returning customers each year. They concocted the idea of Breakwind Farm’s four varieties of FARTOOTEMPTING Baked Beans in the spring of 2011 and started selling them at the Farmers Market where they quickly became a hit.

It wasn’t long before their beans were being requested at local fairs, festivals and other venues. They added FARTOOTEMPTING Breakwind Bean t-shirts to their product line by the end of the summer and they too have become a hit. They have four mouth-watering flavors of baked beans, each offering a unique taste, all guaranteed vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and delicious!

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Permaculture Voices Conference in San Diego March 4th – 8th

permaculture voices conference

 

PV2 isn’t just another permaculture convergence that focuses on hyper-local DIY skill building and resiliency; we instead decided to look bigger.

We are blending the practical techniques and tactics found in workshops with the entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity of a business conference.

We have brought together a diverse group of creative and innovative doers in a variety of fields looking to share experiences, knowledge, connect, and create in ways that increase passion, purpose and profit. These doers come from a variety of fields both within and outside of permaculture. Each field has its own needs and yields. It is this edge that creates the opportunity for things to happen, and it is this opportunity that offers value to the attendees – how can you fill needs and utilize yields to create more value in your life.

Farm Finance Challenge

Click here for the HUB with all the farms

For the first posting we had some farms that chose to publish late due to whatever reason. Farm life, sick kids, etc… Nothing wrong with that. As we move forward we are all trying to publish as a group on the 15th of every month. So the middle of every month going forward we will have our reports up and to you guys so that we can all grow as a farming community.

  FFC | Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Aquaponics and Consulting
  • Gross Income: $2210.31
  • Expenses: $262.27
  • January Report

 

 FFC January | Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

  • Vegetables and Fruit
  • Gross Income: $1043.00
  • Expenses: $6365.23
  • January Report

 

Take aways:

Are you maximizing the potential of the traffic you get on your farm? Are you giving them a reason to come back?

What message are you sending with your brand?

Farm Quote of the Episode

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.

January Reports for the Farm Finance Challenge

This is the first ever public Farm Finance Challenge report! We are breaking ground on a whole new level of transparency and we hope that it is as exciting for you as it is for us!

You may remember from our post yesterday that there are over a dozen farms involved in this Challenge. Each one of us comes to the table with different stories, diferent scales, and different ways to do things. However we are united under one ideal, to solve the problem of financial sustainability in small scale agriculture.

Each month we will be publishing our records on the Farm Marketing Solutions blog to collaborate on finding answers to the hard to ask questions like, “Can we make it? Can my farm succeed?” While this Challenge highlights a bakers’ dozen of farms the over-arching principal stretches to small farms everywhere.

Give Us Feedback

We invite you to comment on the reports published. Find your favorite farms and follow them. Keep the conversation going and give us feedback. Farming is a struggle and we are going to make it work only by working together. We only ask that you keep it nice. If you post anything mean or inappropriate about the participating farms we will remove the comment and ban you from the website. This is not a critique on different farming practices but rather a place to go for mutual respect and support.

Highlights

Every month we will pull a few highlights from the various posts by farmers. We’ll start the post with those highlights and then give you a chance to click on whatever farm you wish from there.

 

January Farming in New England

What January farming in New England looks like.

What January farming in New England looks like.

Dan Berube – Berube Farm’s January Report

“For a New England vegetable farm, January is really a prep month. Berube Farm sells from July-October, and we don’t have any greenhouse space so as far as farming goes, we’re shut down. January is when I get organized, so that’s when things get busy outside, I have plans to refer back to. So for January I decided how many CSA customers I’ll be able to take for 2015, and put shares on sale to my returning customers. In February I’ll open sales up to new customers.”

Dan doesa great job at sharing what he is doing on farm in the Winter. The FFC will create a cash flow statement throughout the year. Ifyou are beginning a farm it’s good to really know that winter gets pretty thin as far as finances and work. There seems to be plenty to do with looking at seed catalogs, updating your record keeping systems for the year, creating budgets, editing your farm website, etc… But in most cases the income is just not there.

 

Record Keeping Is Easier Than We Thought

Amanda McKelvey Hall – Rockin’ H Farm’s January Report

Rockin' H Farm

Every month all the participants are sharing some thoughts on the month and maybe a hard lesson learned or two. This month Rockin’ H Farm brought up a really good point. Early in their post when they thought to compare January’s numbers to December’s numbers they did not put anything down because “We did not keep a good record last year so we do not have this data for December.”

Then at the end of their January report they comment on their recordkeeping and how it has changed,”Tracking all of our finances is a lot easier than we thought it would be when you set up a system and commit to updating daily or at least every-other day.”

I have very much found the same thing. The real trick to this whole thing is discipline. No matter if you are doing it on a notebook, in Quickbooks, or on an excel spreadsheet, as long as you are actually taking the time to write things down you will have the information. If you cannot seem to put the time aside then you will be left in the dark.

The Farm Finance Challenge exists to encourage maintaining that discipline. The participating farmers are already feeling the positive effects of accountability and it shows in the fact that we have numbers to share.

 

Building Farm Infrastructure On The Cheap

John Suscovich – Camps Road Farm’s January Report

messy farm storeHere on Camps Road Farm we have been doing a fair amount of “setting up for the year” like Dan Berube mentions up above. Reworking the business plan, upgrading things on the farm, and preparing for the year.

One of the projects we have in the works is setting up a farm store on the property. We have an old milking room as part of an old milking barn. It was full of …stuff and was an absolute mess. However, it is structurally sound, really only needs a good cleaning and a coat of paint, and is in a great location on the farm.

We saw a need on farm to have a dedicated retail space, we took stock of what our assets and infrastructure were, even if they were looking pretty ugly, and we are taking action to ustilize our existing building to solve the problem of no on-farm retail space. In the end it will only cost some labor and some paint but will result in a cute little marketing avenuefor our farm products.

In addition to clearing it out we checking with the town zoning about putting it in and attracting customers. There is a permit process, public hearings, and a $210 fee just to just to use a room that already existed on our private property. Isn’t that nice? When dealing with small town politics I find it’s best to just jump through the hoops and get the job done. It may seem unfair to pay $210 for something that you already have considering the tight margins of a farm, but whatever. Grin and bear it and make the best effort to make your new farm store a success.

 

Links to farm reports:

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $730.00
  • Expenses: $1,909.60
  • January Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $0.00
  • Expenses: $1,807.48
  • January Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$2,528.00
  • Expenses: $1,501
  • January Report

 

  FFC | Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Aquaponics and Consulting
  • Gross Income: $2210.31
  • Expenses: $262.27
  • January Report

 

 FFC January | Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

  • Vegetables and Fruit
  • Gross Income: $1043.00
  • Expenses: $6365.23
  • January Report

 

 Loony Acres

Loony Acres

  • Eggs, vegetables, and mixed livestock
  • Gross Income: $400.00
  • Expenses: $92.00
  • January Report

 

 Naked Ginger Farms

Naked Ginger Farms

  • Vegetables, fruit trees, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $0.00
  • Expenses: $278.74
  • January Report

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin’ H Farm

  • Vegetables, fruit, livestock, eggs, and honey
  • Gross Income: $1,404.00
  • Expenses: $1714.93
  • January Report

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $2,469.50
  • Expenses: $1,810.60
  • January Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $231.99
  • Expenses: $540.00
  • January Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

Sugarwood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $114.00
  • Expenses: $3520.87
  • January Report

 

An Introduction to the Farm Finance Challenge

So what exactly is the Farm Finance Challenge? The FFC is a group of farms aiming to solve the problem of financial sustainability in small scale agriculture.

While all the farms involved come from different backgrounds and have different business models, we found really quickly that we all aligned on a small set of very specific
goals.

ffc starts tomorrow

Record Keeping

Record keeping can be dull, tedius, and at times just completely forgotten. This is a problem that spans most small businesses. Without accurate record keeping you do not know how to set prices, determine the viability of what you are doing, and can put you out of business without you having a clear idea of how you got there.

There are a lot of “solutions” out there that are both digital and analog. There are smartphone apps, software solutions, and businesses built on organizing your information. There is also the other end of the spectrum with notebooks, envelopes, and folders. The problem is that no one has really “nailed it” yet, or if they have they’re not sharing their secrets.

The FFC aims to test these solutions and share what we find effective and ineffective so that we can provide the tools farmers need to succeed financially.

 

Acountability

The hardest part about record keeping is discipline. No matter how you do it, if you don’t actually do it, then what good is it doing? None.

Think back to when you were in school, when you had a test coming up you crammed and studied and organized all your thoughts and information. Having a monthly deadline forces us to maintain the discipline of proper record keeping and keeps us accountable to our peers.

This has already proven effective as we move into the first post.

 

Case Study

With the growth in the small scale AG area of the world there is a lot of “this is how you farm”and “you should farm, it’s great” information going around but no clear view of just how much money does a farm make. We will be building a case-study for young and beginning farmers to use to help support and grow the sustainable AG movement.

I know it would have changed my life to have clear numbers on the actual profitability of different farms when I was starting out. We are a community unlike any other with lofty goals of saving the planet. By letting budding agriculturalists peak under the hood we are providing the necessary tools of information to make educated decisions.

Remeber, G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.”

 

This is about US and YOU

While the FFC will highlight only a tiny percetage of farms in America the potential reach is global. This is about all of you as much as it is about the dozen or so of us.

I encourage you to follow and support your favorite farms in the challenge. Leave comments on their pages to give them advice, feedback, and positive reinforcement.

Use the FFC to your own benefit by learning from our numbers and our hard lessons learned. Follow along and use the accountability deadlines to keep your own farm on track.

 

Participating Farms

 

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Dracut, MA
  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • 1/2 acre
  • Farm Finance hub
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Port Austin, MI
  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • 2 acres
  • Farm Finance hub

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Kent, CT
  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • 52 acres
  • Farm Finance hub

 

 Candy Girl Chicks

Candy Girl Chicks

 

 Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Glastonbury, CT
  • Greens, herbs, fish, and events
  • 1,000 square ft.
  • Farm Finance hub

 

 Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

  • Spencer, NY
  • Mostly vegetables, some fruit
  • 170 acres, 4 tillable
  • Farm Finance hub

 

Little River Eco Farm

Little River Eco Farm

 

 Loony Acres

Loony Acres

 

Morganic Farm

Morganic Farm

  • Fife Lake, MI
  • Eggs, pastured pork, and English Shepherd puppies
  • 30 acres
  • Farm Finance hub

 

 Naked Ginger Farms

Naked Ginger Farms

  • Glen St Mary, FL
  • Vegetables, fruit trees, eggs, and livestock
  • 10 acres
  • Farm Finance hub

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin’ H Farm

  • Statham, GA
  • Vegetables, fruit, livestock, eggs, and honey
  • 20 acres
  • Farm Finance hub

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

 

 Sugarwood Acres

Sugarwood Acres

 

GFP066: Stockpile Grazing, Saving Money on Farm, and Sharing Information

growing farms podcastWhat if you could save more money every year just by managing your farm a little better and taking care of your land? What if the strategy that made the most ecological sense made the most financial sense as well? Well, turns out people have been doing it for years!

We’re talking stockpile grazing. Where basically instead of cutting hay you are leaving the grass on pasture and letting the cows graze longer. Seems simple right? Well yes, the concept is simple, but the actual execution is a little tougher, that’s maybe why not so many people do it. Also, there’s a bottle neck of information into a few books and not a lot of up to date real time information.

Enter The Grass Whisperer.

Troy Bishopp “The Grass Whisperer” is an experienced farmer and great writer that is taking his skills and filling in that information gap. On today’s podcast he talks about saving a whole bunch of money by keeping your cows on grass longer, he drops some words of wisdom about how to learn on farm, and the rest of the interview is jam-packed with helpful tidbits whether you raise animals on pasture or not.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • What is stockpile grazing?
    • How do you do it?
    • How do you plan?
    • What effects does it have on your land?
    • Will is save you money?
  • How Troy grazed his cattle on pasture until January!
  • How being flexible will keep you sane
  • The benefits of letting your grass rest
  • What it means to keep your microbes well-fed

Interview with The Grass Whisperer

the grass whisperer

Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is an accomplished professional grazier of 27 years, a grasslands advocate, and a voice for grassfed livestock producers to the media, restaurateurs and legislators.  In addition to working with the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist, Troy is a free-lance writer for a variety of publications, and a popular presenter for workshops and conferences.

Troy is a life-long learner, taking advantage of new knowledge and past experience to bring a holistic approach to grazing planning.  Instead of thinking in terms of grazing 8 inches down to 2 inch residuals, he helps farmers chart a course that pays attention to their personal goals as well as their profits.  Visit his Grazing Help and Speaking & Workshops pages to find out more about what Troy brings to the table (or the pasture).

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

the grass whisperer

 

Click the image to go to Troy’s website.

Farm quote of the episode:

“I’ve often been asked what drives me, particularly through the last 50 years of abuse, and ridicule. What has kept me going is one word – care. I care enough about the land, the wildlife, people, the future of humanity. If you care enough, you will do whatever you have to do, no matter what the opposition.” – Allan Savory

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.

2015 Pasture Raised Pigs Budget

Raising pigs on pasture is something that I am very excited about adding into the farm this year. I already have my 12 pigs reserved for the spring. I intend to raise feeder pigs rotating on pasture throughout the summer and sell them by the whole and half in the fall. The breed that I am getting are Yorkshire Landrace Crosses. I am definitely not the only one excited about bringing pigs on farm. I already have people reserving them and it looks to be a fairly successful addition.

To download this excel file:

Farm Marketing Solutions is founding on the idea of mutual support and transparency. If you would like to download the excel file that I am using in the video you can scroll to the bottom of the post and enteryour name and email address to subscribe to our email newsletter. The first email from us that you will receive will be a link to download the excel file as well as all the previous excel files from the other areas of the budget.

Once subscribed I will send you (kind of) weekly emails with the new areas of the budget as well as updates on what content I’ve posted on various places on the internet. I promise to keep it simple, useful, and to the point.

how to raise pigs

That’s Kate bonding with some piglets that we met a few years back.

Adding a new operation to your farm:

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to start slow when adding something on to your farm. Start with just a few (of whatever) and grow it as you feel comfortable. You will make a 1000 mistakes, there will be a steep learning curve, and you will appreciate not being overwhelmed by a large volume of product if the market doesn’t respond the way you expect.

Now, I think I will have a great market for the pork. There are people already reserving pigs which is incredible. My hang up is that I have not raised pigs on pasture before and I have not raised them in this area where I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to take them when it’s time for processing. So many things to figure out.

I am starting small for my scale at 12 pigs because that’s where I feel comfortable but it’s still a better scale for me than raising 3 pigs. I’ve done this with other areas of the farm in the past and it’s how I started in with chickens a couple of years ago. Enough to make some money while not crushing myself.

Steps to adding a new operation on to your farm:

  1. Start slow at a small scale
  2. Figure out all the details (feed, processing, growing techniques, etc…)
  3. Keep diligent records
  4. Develop your market
  5. Keep diligent records
  6. Scaleup next year if you feel comfortable

You’ll note what’s in there twice. Keeping diligent records. This is a mistake I have made in the past and one that I hope to rectify with the Farm Finance Challenge. Diligent record keeping is something every business should have to assess profitability and over-all financial health of the business. Even if you are doing it on a homestead scale. A business is a business and bills have to paid.

You can bet that this year with a new operation I will be writing down everything so that when it comes time to budgeting next year I have accurate numbers to make an educated prediction of my year.

Numbers change:

Already since the publication of my video I have 9 comments about how other peoples’ numbers are different than mine. Especially on processing. I have budgeted about $400 per pig for processing and there are other people who are paying $133 per pig. That’s a $267 difference! Multiply that by 12 pigs and that’s $3204. I mean, that’s crazy! We’ll see what happens with me this year.

I also already have a change to my own budget. I budgeted $150 per piglet and was even expecting to pay a little more. When I confirmed my pigs this winter I also confirmed the price. I’m paying $95 per pig and not the $150 that I thought. So I’m already doing better than I thought.

The lesson learned here is that a number is just a number until it’s changed. You can make your budget look like whatever you want. I made mine pessamistic because I wanted to be prepared for the worst case scenario. If I wasn’t able to handle the worst than I had no buffer and that’s a stressful place to be for me.

As the budget sits right now I’m at a predicted loss for the whole year.  And that’s fine. It is now my goal to change my plan around, adjust my growing techniques, and find where the holes in the boat are so that I end the year closer to break even. Remember, I’m in a brand new business and for all intents and purposes this is year two. Hard to be overly profitable on a farm in year two, but I’m working as hard as I can at it.

Raising pigs on pasture:

pastured pigs-0768

A slightly younger, much less stressed version of me gives a pig a belly-rub out on Tara Firma Farm in California.

Like I said in the beginning of the post I have never raised pigson my farm before. I have some experience but there will be a lot of learning going on. I am adding them in because they attract people, we’re know for being a protein farm and this is a welcome addition to our products, we have good land for pigs, and they are good at processing brewers’ grain (and we have an on farm brewery).

Because I’m learning I will be relying on the places I know where I can get some good information on pig raising.

  • Forrest Pritchard has a great article on raising pigs on pasture and the lessons he has learned. That puts be a couple years ahead of my initial mistakes already.
  • My friend Ethan Book over at The Beginning Farmer raises a lot of pigs on pasture and I have his phone number on speed dial.
  • I am part of an amazing Facebook group about pastured pigs.
  • My friend Austin at This is Homesteady raises pigs locally near me (I know, I have some in my freezer)
  • All that, and I’m not afraid to ask questions of anyone I think might have some pig experience.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far. As farmers we are a community and as a community we need to support each other. Publishing my content is my chance to give back and to ask for support. I get all sorts of comments on my content and they are all appreciated. If I am ever slow to get back to you it is not because I’m not thinking about you or because I’m too lazy, haha. It is often the opposite. Even though I love having running Farm Marketing Solutions, my farm always comes first. And you know that running a farm takes a lot of work. Thank you for your patience, understanding at my typos, and your support with what I am trying to do.

Cheers!

 






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Are online farmers markets the wave of the future?

As a farmer I am always looking for new ways to market my products. Getting farm products in the hands of willing and eager customers can present some serious challenges. For instance, right now my chickens are doing amazing and producing a lot of eggs considering it is the end of January. My problem is that local farmers’ markets are scarce this time of year, I pretty much lose money wholesaling eggs, and it’s currently nearly impossible to get people on farm. Actually, as I write this we’re in the middle of a snow storm, no one is going anywhere.

We are producing enough food to “feed the world” (I f***ing hate that phrase) but the problem is distribution. How do we get the food to the people now need/want it?

My farm is also at the disadvantage of being kind of remote. It can be tough to get my relatives to drive out here let alone someone who just wants a dozen eggs. So if I cannot get people to come to the farm how then am I going to move my products?

That is an answer tech moguls are trying to answer. But are the answers that they are coming up with the right ones?

tech-crunch-online-farmers-market

 

A friend of mine sent me this article from Tech Crunch about a new online farmers’ market that connects willing customers with farmers in need of a new marketplace. Sounds great right? My opinion as a farmer is both yes and no.

Are online farmers’ markets a good idea?

Yes:

I love that people besides farmers are concerned with helping farmers sell and distribute their products. The truth is we do need help with marketing and distribution. I know I do at least, and I’m the guy who started Farm Marketing Solutions. I’m looking for and experimenting with solutions to these problems every day.

As my/our customer base gets more and more online at home and on their phones, having a marketplace that connects with them where and when they want to buy is a beautiful thing. But let’s get into some of the disadvantages.

No:

The hard truth about life is that no matter what you do, if you expect to pay your bills then something that you are doing has to make money. No big shocker there. The tricky question is, “where is that money going to come from?” For me as a farm producer my money comes from the eggs, chickens, hops, apples, and vegetables that I grow. For an online farmers’ market, that money has to come either from the people buying the product or the people selling the product. They’re a middle man, and every good middle man takes his cut.

I sell my chicken for $6 a pound retail. I have to sell it at that price or more (currently contemplating a price increase) in order to remotely come close to making a profit. Now imagine my position when someone is going to take a cut of that, or imagine being the consumer and having to pay $8 a pound for chicken when you can get it in a grocery store for $1.29 per pound. That’s tough either way.

Now granted there is theoretically less time marketing my products and distributing them. That’s what these services provide. However the price of that can be pretty steep. Here’s a real life example:

For Camps Road Farm we used to use GoodEggs.com to market and distribute products in Brooklyn, NY. We would put up a list of things we had for sale, GoodEggs would take orders and let us know what customers wanted, and then we would harvest, process (clean and bag), and drive them into Brooklyn from the farm which is roughly 1.5-2 hours away. After the expense of growing the item, packing it, and driving it into the City, GoodEggs would take a 30% cut of of the sale price. That was more than our net profits in most cases than if we sold it locally ourselves. So we were operating at a loss selling through GoodEggs.

goodeggs

We started out at a 25% commission on GoodEggs and then it was up to 30% . On products where we make 10-30% net profit in the first place that was a steep loss and we couldn’t handle it. Especially with the added expense of driving a lower volume of food into the City each week.

Now there’s a solution to the driving and distributing problem presented by GoodEggs with GrubMarket. The customer orders it, the farmer harvests it, and GrubMarket comes and picks it up and delivers it to the customer. At least that’s how I understand it.

grub market

 

 

While GrubMarket seems to solve several of the pain points that consumers and producers face with GoodEggs I still have trouble seeing it work long term. I have a hard enough time making money as a farm without having to pay someone to sell and distribute my products. Granted there are farms that function selling primarily wholesale and maybe the margins here will work for their business structure, I don’t know. I can only speak to my situation specifically.

Farming is a business of extremely tight margins. Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank would hate everything about it. Getting rich is not why we do it, but staying afloat is necessary in order to keep farming. So often is the case that the farm is subsidised in some way. Those subsidies can take the form of the Federal Government, a spouse who works in town, a team of investors, or a winning lottery ticket. Whatever the case may be, giving up any more money then we have to is a sure fire way to go backward quickly.

Is this a band-aid to a much larger problem?

I hesitated to even write this post as I try to keep it positive on Farm Marketing Solutions and I really hate to say anything remotely bad about anyone besides myself. My mother always used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” On this topic I have to admit that I am a little negative.

Our food system is broken. That is the truth of it. It is wrtten about in countless articles, spoken about in videos and by speakers all over the world. Things are not really working out and we’re heading toward some sort of global tragedy. The inevitaility of the eventuality of an international food crisis is written on grocery store shelves around the world.

What then is the solution? What can we do to help solve this problem?

The solution is happening, but it is happening on a relatively small scale. People are falling in love with food again. Everywhere new farmers’ markets are popping up, people are traveling further and investing more in their food. But until our food policies better support small farms, until more people are willing to buy locally, and until food becomes more of a focus for people instead of an after-thought, we will have to struggle with finding a solution for how to get food to the people who actually want it.

I applaud GoodEggs and GrubMarket for their efforts and ingenuity. Thank you for what you are trying to do. Hopefully we can figure this out.

A Solution for Farmers:

There’s something you can do to help further the slow food movement, get good food on people’s tables, and grow your business. Tell your story. Transparency sells better than anything else and people are looking for it. Talk about your story, the products you produce and why you love them. The more open you are about your business, both the good and the bad, the more people are going to be drawn to what you are doing which leads to us having a bigger affect on how food policy is written.

If the creation of GoodEggs and GrubMarket is proof that more customers are online then you should be there to. Get to marketing online through: ( links below to free tutorials)

People vote with their dollars and politicians are greedy. Market your farm, tell your story, and buy change with every tomato sold.

2015 Young Orchard Yearly Budget

While the orcahrd is not a money maker on farm at the moment it is an important part of our narrative. As part of the farm we work very closely with a distillery who produces apple-based spirits like Apple Brandy, Hard Cider, and Bourbon. We invested in putting in an apple orchard for a number of reasons.

  • Our orchard will help provide rare apples that are good for distilling that the current growers are having trouble supplying because of the increased demand in the market.
  • It adds marketing juice to the distillery to esentially have their own orchard where they source locally from.
  • It further diversifies our farm so that down the road we have several operations to keep our income diverse.
  • The farm can use the apples for cider, you-pick, apple pies, etc… if we so choose to go down that road.

So while there is no return this year as far as apple yeild, that has been planned for in the budget. The distillery helps cover part of the cost, the other operations on farm help cover part of the cost. It’s a tricky endevor, but also quite exciting. Personally I really enjoy watching the trees grow up.

To download the excel file:

If you would like the excel file shown in this video then you have the option of scrolling to the bottom of the page to sign up for the Farm Marketing Solutions Email List. When you enter in your information then I will send you a free copy of the excel sheet for you to do as you wish.

As part of the email list I will automatically send you the future budget sheets so you only have to sign up once. You will also receive exclusive content, news from FMS, and a little bit of hilarity in your day.

young apple orchard

Starting an Apple Orchard

Establishing an orchard of any kind is a process that takes years. The first year you plant trees which look like weak little sticks that you hope survive. Over time with love and attention you eventually get trees that bear beautiful fruit that you can eat raw or turn into delicious apple pies or distill into apple based spirits. Here’s the timeline for our orchard as I see it:

  • Spring 2013: Apple whips were planted on a hillside with good drainage, plenty of sun, some nearby hedgerows to help buffer winds but plenty of air circulation still the same.
  • 2014: Trees were pruned in the winter after having a year to grow. We are pruning them to have a central leader and to take on the shape (kind of) like a Christmas Tree.
  • 2015: They will get another winter pruning as they will get each year further shaping the tree. Still no fruit because we pinch all the buds back to encourage tree growth and not fruiting.
  • 2016: Still no fruit as we are working on developing strong trees.
  • 2017: Hope to see our first harvest this year, but who knows? Maybe that’s too soon. Maybe I waited too long. I hear both stories at this point. If you have advice please leave it in the comments below.

Now, I’m really new to starting and maintaining an orchard. I will tell you one thing, there are 100 conflicting ways to do it! We are attempting to do it organically which I am also told is impossible. More on that in just a second.

Wait, you keep talking about a Distillery

fresh apple

I took that picture of the apple. Fun product shot right? Anyways, yes, we have a distillery. Camps Road Farm, the farm that I manage is part of “The Food Cycle LLC”. Under the umbrella of the LLC operates three separate but interlinked and interdependent businesses. There is the farm, a craft brewery, and a distillery. The Brewery iswhere the hops from the farm go and in turn we get their spent grains to do with as we please. The distillery is where our apples go and we get the spent apple mash.

The distillery is Neversink Spirits,and I’ll let them tell you their version of the story:

Neversink Spirits was founded by two long-time friends with a passion for spirits, wine, food, and nature.  After years of tasting, tinkering, sipping and planning, Noah Braunstein and Yoni Rabino found a project in which their passions could be realized – and Neversink Spirits was born.  Making spirits is their calling, apples their muse, and they finally found the vehicle in which to share their vision with their fans.

A spirit’s quality can only be as high as the ingredients from which it’s made.  When they formed a team with Camps Road Farm and Kent Falls Brewery to form a local collective known as “The Food Cycle,” they knew they had found a way to make their spirits truly unique.

Working together, the partners carefully developed a growing plan for the farm, cultivating ingredients specifically designed to make exceptional spirits and beers.  Being able to verify the supply chain’s provenance allows Neversink Spirits to make spirits of the highest quality, while minimizing the footprint on our planet.  Waste from the brewing and distilling processes is recycled back on the farm as compost and animal feed, increasing the productivity of the farm and closing the sustainability loop.

Apples are the cornerstone of Neversink Spirits’ production.  In 2012, through a grassroots effort from volunteers and friends, we planted over 350 apple trees on Camps Road Farm.  Spirits produced from the over 15 varieties of apples, all difficult to obtain heritage varietals that produce excellent cider and brandies, will excite the palate with new ways to experience of America’s favorite fruit.  We are passionate about apples and want to share that passion with our fans.

Based in Port Chester, NY, Neversink Spirits is currently setting up its facility and refining recipes. The opening is being planned for the fall of 2014 and Neversink Spirits will start releasing its line of fine spirits.  Look out for an apple brandy, an apple and herb eau-de-vie, a whiskey made with sustainably produced New York grains, and a surprise collaboration with the brewery!

We love spirits.  We love apples.  We love our planet.  And, we love you.

How we grow our apples:

We are attempting to grow our trees organically. We are following the organic standards on farm with everything we do potentially working toward actual certification. At the moment it doesn’t make sense for use to certify, I also think we’re not yet eligible.

I have started a YouTube playlist with videos about what we have done so far in our orchard. Here’s that playlist to show you more specifically how we have started our orchard.

If you have any further questions please leave themin the comments section below and I will do my best to help you out.

camps road farm orchard

Here is a look at our trees late summer of 2014.

Other apple orchard information:

There have been three great places where I am getting a lot of my orcahrd information. The first is my neighbor Averill Orchards who has been in the apple business for I think a million years, or at least the family has. The youngest generation to pickof the pruning sheers is about my age and I have to admit, they’re awesome. I constantly badger them with questions about how they start new trees and how they maintain a healthy orchard. They are low-spray, not organic, but that doesn’t stop them from being a weatlth of information.

This is a good point to bring up that the best information that you will get is not going to come from a book, but from another local grower. They know your climate, they know the minutia, they have the examples on their farm to show you, and they probably have been doing it longer. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Just a word of advice, do more listening than talking, take notes, and bring them a gift for their time. They’re as busy if not more busy than you.

The second place has been my local agricultural extension agents. Same thing as above, but they are designed to answer your questions. Make use of your extension agents, they’re great, they’re nice, and they know where to find the answers you are looking for.

The last place is indeed a book. “The Apple Grower” by Michael Pillips. I have learned a lot from this book. Not all of it I have taken action on and there’s even things I do a little different. It’s all about learning as much as you can and adapting it to your situation. Here’s a link:

A favor to ask of you orchardists out there:

What is my budget missing? I don’t pretend to have all the answers for everything farming. I am only a handfull of years in and I am learning as I go. If you have more knowledge or something to share I want to invite you to comment in the comments section below and I will add it into the blog post here and give you credit. I am constantly lookingto improve all areas of the farm and I know this is an area that I could stand to get some growth.






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GFP065: Is a homesteader considered a farmer?

Growing_Farms_Podcast2 (300x300)When it comes to owning and operating a farm business there is a lot of talk about scale. Are you big enough? Are you too big? What is right, what is wrong? There is only one right answer, whatever works best for you is what works best for you.

I operate at a large small scale. I mean that I only have 52 acres and at the same time I can’t believe I have 52 acres, it’s insane. It is not 10,000 acres or even 1,000 acres, but there is a lot that can go onwith even just one acre. On the show today is a guy with about 10 acres and he is striking a balance that works for him and his fmaily. He is also approaching farming or homesteading in a very smart way and has a lot of good information to share from doing so.

Is there a right or wrong scale, it depends. It all depends on what your holistic goal is. What are you looking to get out of your hard work on farm. And it will be hard work no matter what scale you operate at. For me personally I have been trying to balance the scale of the many different operations on farm to balance the fact that I am unable to do any one of them at a large enough scale to benefit from the economies of scale.

Not only have I been trying to balance how big or small things need to be to make money on farm, but taking into account that I miss my friends, I love spending time with my family, and I want to have a semblance of a life outside of farming. It all comes down to what your goals are and what life you want to live. Can farming provide that? We’ll find out in this episode and throughout 2015.

So, can a homesteader be a farmer? Listen to the podcast episode and find out.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • Whether you can consider a homesteader a farmer
  • How to start and grow your farm sustainably
  • How much time is spent marketing vs. “in the field”
  • Different business models for farming
  • A great resource for all things homesteading
  • A free cow is not free
  • Getting time off from farming

Interview with Austin Martin of This Is Homesteady

austin from homesteadyIn Austin’s words from his website: “Imagine this scenario. Farm girl moves to city. Farm girl meets surfer boy. Farm girl shows surfer boy country, chickens, and how to shoot. They marry. Surfer boy becomes country boy.

Then came the babies.

After the birth of our son, we quickly realized our third floor apartment was not going to be right for the family we wanted to have. We wanted to find a place where we could put down roots. After a year-long search, we found Squash Hollow.

Surrounded by fields and woods, so began the idea of starting a small farm. With our farm we could provide our family with the freshest food available. Now we grow enough to share our harvest with your family as well!

Our Farms’ Mission:

We believe the earth we live on and the animals around us are beautiful gifts to be taken care of!  We strive to give ouranimals the happiest life possible, and enrich the land around us.”

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

What would be your first step on your farming journey? Or, what is your next step to improve upon your current farm?

What scale do you think you would be most happy operating at?

Answer in the comments section below.

Farm quote of the episode:

“The road is rocky, make Homesteady.” – Austin Martin

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.

2015 Hop Yard Budget

At Camps Road Farm we grow our hops following organic standards but we are not yet organic certified. Growing hops this way adds a lot of obstacles that might be easier to face if we were growing them conventionally but we feel it is worth the extra effort. Nothing against growing them conventionally, just putting it out there so you have perspective on our numbers.

The hops are technically in their third year but there were a lot of mistakes made in teh first couple of years as the learning curve has been very steep. They should perform this year as second year hops. We have done a fair amount of propogating and replanting so there are bines at different stages of the process throughout our yard. The yard itself is 1.4 acres. There are 21 rows that are 250 feet long. I’ll get into a little more detail about how we grow hops and what are some of the mistakes we made a little later in this post.

To download the excel file:

If you would like acopy of teh excel file used to create the video you can scroll to the bottom of the post and put in your name and email address to join the Farm Marketing Solutions email list. If you are already on it you will be receiving a copy of the file in your inbox after this post goes live.

how to grow hops

Wet Hops vs Dry Hops

To figure my production numbers for this years budget I have two numbers, wet hops and dry hops. When it comestime for harvest the hops cones (pictured above) will start to dry out in the field. They get to about 80% of their full moisture level and you want to get them off the bine and help them finish the drying process. Once harvested you dry the hops to roughly 8-8.5% moisture content.

What gives the hops their flavoring quality is the lupulin inside the cone between the leaves. You want to get rid of a lot of the moisture because it can casue off-flavors in your beer due to oxidation and decomosition. We use the UVM moisture calculator to calculate the moisture in our hops as we harvest and dry them.

Brewers can use wet hops to brew beer if they have it available. They have to use more because the flavors are not as concentrated and they have to make up for all the water weight. Dried hops are more valuable because (ideally) they have been preserved at their peak flavor and the variables that cause off-flavors have been mitigated or eliminated. There is definitely a lot of art and science to all this (like everything on farm) and it takes some skill to get it right. I am still learning for sure.

Peak production for out hop yard

The estimations for what you can produce from a hop yard per acre vary depending on who is giving you the number, where you are growing it, how you are growing it, etc… We estimate that when the hop yard is full of plants and all of them are fully grown we will yeild around 3000 pounds of wet hops. We have 1.4 acres and will have roughly 1400 plants.

hop yard from the air

For this years’ budget however we are definitely not at peak production. I anticipate we will get about 1000 pounds of wet hops this year.

Labor on a hop farm:

labor on a hop farm

Whether you are starting or running a hop yard there is a lot of labor. Even just walking around to check for pests and problems takes a lot of time. It is just like any other plant that you might grow on farm. They require love, attention, and a heavy dose of understanding. There are pests, nutrient imbalances ordeficiencies, and of course the dreaded downy mildew.

With such a small yard we don’t benefit from doing anything at a large scale. Most of the work we do in the hop yard right now is by hand or with simple tools. We train by hand, prune by hand, and trellis by hand. All the manure spreading, ammendment spraying, and over-all care is done in a simple and kind of inefficient manner.

As the yard develops we are going to better track the labor necessary so we canplan out our labor better in the future. A good thing about the hop yard is that even though it is 1.4 acres, all the plants are basically the same. That means it can be easy to train in a group to a task and set them loose.

Ammendments:

Even though we are managing the hop yard according to the organic standards there are still things we have to do to ammend the soil and assist the plants as they grow up to be the hearty beasts they become by harvest time. We ran soils tests earlier this year and we are are a little too acidic at 5.7 so we will be adding lime to get us up closer to 7 where hops are happier. We also usecertain foliar sprays like fish emulsion for a boost of nitrogen when the plants are younger, we use OMRI approved pesticides though we do use them sparingly. As in only if we really really need them.

I apologize that this is a very basic and very vague overview of how we are growing hops. This blogpost is about the budget for the year and not meant to go into real detail about our growing practices. I will be posting videos and other content as the year goes on about our hops operation and all the other things we do on farm. If there are any specific questions or if there is anything you would really like to see this year please leave a message in the comments section below.

Other products you can get from hops:

Besides the hops themselves there are other products you can get from humulus lupulus. We have made wreaths from the bines, propagated and sold hop plant starts, and even gone so far asto experiment making tinctures with the hop flowers as a medicinal herb. It can be used as a sleep aid, can be used in soaps and shampoos and in cooking as hop herb butter.

The possibilities are only limited byyour imagination. It is good practice on farm to get all that you can from the things that you grow. We will be testing our market with different products to see what is successful and year to year get better at making the most out of our hop harvest.

hop bine

Lessons learned from starting a hop farm:

There are a lot of mistakes you can make when starting a farm. It is part of the learning process. No one is going to do it perfectly and we can all learn and grow as farmers by sharing our hard lessons learned with each other so that we are not all making the same mistakes. In short order here are a few things we would do better when starting the hop farm.

  • soil tests, soil tests, soil tests
  • ammend soil before planting based on test results
  • till and mulch rows before planting
  • install irrigation earlier
  • make sure the area that the hops are planted is well drained year-round

There are some good stories with each of these examples and I will go into them as the year goes on. One of the best places to follow along with Farm Marketing Solutions and thus my farm is through the FMS YouTube Channel. Subscribe and get updates when I post new videos (if that’s your thing).

What we hope to improve on in the future:

Hops need a lot of love and attention. Because we are a very diversified farm there can be things that get over-looked on farm. Livestock has always taken prescidence because we won’t let the animals suffer at all because we’re “too busy”. As we move forward we are more actively planning out time to observe the farm and make sure we are doing all that is required for optimal health of the plants and animals.

In the coming years I plan on having the rest of the hop yard planted where we haveempty spots, we will increase plant health and yeilds, and we will build a community of people involved in the hop yard to help us keep labor costs down.

chicken tractors in hop yard

We run our chicken tractors through our hop yard to side-dress the plants with nitrogen and to help keep pests down.

Farm Finance Challenge:

All of my record keeping this year will come into play as we launch the Farm Finance Challenge on Farm Marketing Solutions. I will be publicly publishing my production and financial records on the blog to share with other farmers so that we can all learn from each other and hopefully save a few people from making the same mistakes that I have.

There are a dozen other farms that are joining Camps Road Farm in the Challenge and that is quite amazing!!! Starting 2/9/2015 follow along each month as I publish my records and then the next day publish everyone else’s numbers. I am really excited for the transparency and the community that I know will grow from the project. At the end of the day we’re doing it to keep ourselves accountable and to support beginning farmers with the power of knowledge.






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