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FFC003: Talking Nonsense

growing farms podcast

Topics covered in this farm podcast:

  1. Scott’s microphone is marginally improved, though slightly robotic
  2. John’s feelin’ good post-meltdown and the farm’s running smoothly
  3. Bears! A bear on the farm
  4. There are B.S. artists out there. Dr. Oz is one. The Food Babe is another
  5. The Food Babe makes some pretty outrageous claims
  6. John gets questions about “chicken hormones” at the market
  7. Among other things, worrying about food trends (e.g. uh oh, eggs are bad for you again) encouraged John to pay closer attention to food
  8. John read a book about how information spreads on the internet, Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
  9. Generating ad revenue from content tends to dilute credibility
  10. A portion of the internet runs on “Google University
  11. John started Food Cyclist Farm as a result of reading about how approachable and profitable farming can be
  12. We think Joel Salatin is great…
  13. … but his is one of the books that paint a rosy picture of farming
  14. Poultry farming was tough, but it resulted in an opportunity to manage Camps Road Farm
  15. The “farming is easy” content seems to mostly homesteading-skewed
  16. Young people getting into farming use the blog posts and books as a means to convince them it’s easily achievable
  17. Call to action: share your story. Share your insights with the farming community
  18. YouTube has become the great source for how-to; a major change from 10 years ago
  19. Hacking/remix culture has been a great way to iteratively improve methods over time

 

Right click here to download the MP3

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.

GFP078: Commercial Kitchen on Farm

growing farms podcast

Have you considered diversifying with a commercial kitchen?

Diversifying your farms’ offerings is always a good idea. Many of the guests who have been on this podcast have talked about it, and it is a large part of my business model. Have you considered diversifying with a commercial kitchen?

On today’s episode Laura McKinney of Riverbank Farm talks about how her kitchen got started. She also talks about life on farm, how she got started in AG, and where she sees it all going.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • triumphs and failures from an experienced farmer
  • pros and cons of starting a commercial kitchen on farm
  • good advice for farm apprentices
  • great advice for dealing with farm apprentices
  • perspective on why we toil

Riverbank Farm

Since colonial times, the farm has passed through the hands of four different families who raised crops and milked cows. Currently, Riverbank Farm grows a diversity of certified organic vegetables, cut flowers and hay. Nourished by the fertile bottomland soil of the Shepaug River, the farm uses no herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or synthetic pesticides.

Laura & David, Farm Owners

laura mckinney riverbank farmDavid Blyn founded Riverbank Farm twenty years ago and was joined by his wife, Laura, in 1996. David originally moved to the farm in 1989 in hopes of running a carpentry business. Although, the barn and house were in poor condition, David was drawn to the landscape and river bordering the farm and decided to call it home.

As David began to work on the barn, he also decided to grow a half acre of vegetables. The half acre increased each year until David began farming full time in 1991. He continued to farm on his own, jumping from tractor to tractor as he managed his small, diversified operation with old cultivating equipment and an array of farm machinery.

In the summer of 1996, while delivering produce during a full moon in Long Island, David met Laura. She had come east for the summer after finishing sustainable agriculture studies in Santa Cruz, CA. Laura knew she wanted to farm, but never anticipated being on the east coast. Their love for farming and each other blossomed into a bountiful farm.

Through hail storms, deer damage, late work nights, frosts, unpredictable weather patterns, and bug and weed outbreaks, they have learned to build a resilient farming operation and truly enjoy the harvest. They now have three children, Lily(8) and Alice(5) and Stella (2) who add love and laughter to each farm day. David and Laura believe that once you eat vegetables from the farm, the farm becomes part of you.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

 

Take aways:

How can you add value to your unsold harvest?

Do you have an “apprentice guide” that you have new workers sign? Could save you a lot of headaches.

 

Farm quote of the episode:

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka

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.

June Farm Finance Reports

Itterating Year to Year

Dan Berube – Berube Farm June Farm Finance Report

zucchini

Zucchini on June 20

Income on a farm does not always come steady. Sometimes you can manage to earn something each month and some times you have a high season where the majority of your money comes in all at once.

This month Dan did not post big numbers, but they are certainly bigger than last year. Last year he learned a valuble lesson when he got burned taking orders when he didn’t have product.

Find out how he changed his practices in his report this month.

 

 

Bring on the Pork!

Austin Martin – Squash Hollow Farm Finance Report

pastured porkAustin is a heck of a marketer. When there is a need in his market, some kind of opening, he fills it. Seeing how his customers have reacted to past pig orders he has adjusted his offerings and has several repeat customers because of it.

Being nimble and ready to pivot is a big part of doing business. It may make sense to you to stay the path but the market wants what the market wants. Adjusting your plan will help keep you afloat, keep your customers happy, and keep your finances in the black.

Check out Austin’s June report for how he changed up his business plan.

 

Remember Why You Are Doing This

John Suscovich – Camps Road Farm Finance Report

farm babyIn June I began to lose sight of why I am farming. I got caught up in my own self-inflicted rat race that I forgot to enjoy it. Sure the summer is the high season in the NorthEast, but that’s not news. So what was the big deal?

I thought to myself, “If I only work a little extra here, push harder there, it will all come together and I can back off.” That’s just not the case. And if it is, you’re certainly not going to be able to do it alone.

With June now past I can see the errors of my way of thinking and I truly am enjoying farm life once more. The hours are no less, the work isn’t physically easier, but I have a sound peace of mind and a fresh perspective.

Check out my June finance report for the rest of the story.

 

Links to Farm Reports:

 

 

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $360.04
  • Expenses: $403.46
  • June Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $3,023.75
  • Expenses: $4,503.62
  • June Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$7,720.00
  • Expenses: $3,590.00
  • June Report

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin’ H Farm

  • Vegetables, fruit, livestock, eggs, and honey
  • Gross Income: $642.71
  • Expenses: $1,047.84
  • June Report

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $1,100.47
  • Expenses: $4,915.64
  • June Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $2,738.91
  • Expenses: $1,472.00
  • June Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

SugarWood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $100.00
  • Expenses: $2,324.73
  • June Report

 

FFC002: I Call Shenanigans

growing farms podcast

Topics covered in this farm podcast:

  1. Scott traveled to Iceland and Denmark
  2. John tailoring FMS to different situations than New England farming
  3. John disliking possessions/responsibilities as it relates to travel
  4. Scott taking stock of possessions while moving, realizing there’s very little
  5. Micromanagement and preventive measures to extend the life of possessions
  6. Having “your name on something” resulting in high standards
  7. Soylent follow-up: John had Soylent, Scott might not rebuy, case closed
  8. John’s getting a root canal, Scott hadn’t been to a dentist in a long while, Dr. Oppenheimer
  9. Mini excavators versus regular ones
  10. Dr. Oppenheimer wants some chickens
  11. We’re not yet very good at segues
  12. John’s still post-meltdown
  13. Recycling doesn’t matter? Sustainable farming doesn’t matter?
  14. Chipotle is great. Scott even had it three meals in a row

 Right click here to download the MP3

scott and john

 

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.

GFP077: Permaculture Voices

growing farms podcast

What we are about at Permaculture Voices..

How can you change the world if you can’t make a living in the process?

It’s too common for people within the permaculture and sustainability movement to do work that they care about, but scrape by financially.

And the reality of that is, at the end of the day that type of lifestyle isn’t sustainable – the values are there, but the economics are not.

Can you make a living from a career that aligns with your values?

We believe you can.

Our mission at PV is to help people who embrace permaculture’s ethics to make a profitable and comfortable living doing work that aligns with who they are and what they stand for.

This means doing work that is financially profitable, and looking beyond the numbers to make sure that the work is environmentally, social, and emotionally profitable.  Think of it as whole systems business.  Without looking after each of these components the whole thing falls apart.

And we believe that when more people start doing that type of work, then we change the world.

We are at a point in time where there is a lot wrong out there. And we can either complain about it and accept it and live with it, or we can step out of our comfort zone and change it.

Permaculture Voices is a catalyst for that change.

Many times that change comes in the form of business. Whether we work for someone else or for ourselves we spend a huge part of our lives doing work.

Does that work matter? Does the world care about your work? And more importantly do you care about your work?

On the flipside, are you doing work that matters to you, but is it financially sustainable? Not just now, but into the future. Will the work that you love support the life that you want to live?

These are important questions to ask, and difficult questions to answer. We are here to help you with that process.

We want to see you align your work with your values and grow your business, revenue and impact so your life both purposeful and sustainable.

diego footerIt’s totally possible.

Stick around for a while and you will hear the real stories of people out there doing it.

Cheers,

Diego

Founder & Head Story Teller

 Right-click here to download the MP3

 

In This Farm Podcast You Will Learn

  • Ideas evolve, keep them in check
  • “Behind the Scenes” of Permaculture Voices
  • “You are not going to achieve great things flying close to the middle.”- Diego Footer

 

Resources Mentioned in This Farm Podcast

 

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.

FFC001: Farm Fantasy Camp

growing farms podcast

The Growing Farms Podcast was started to share my journey into agriculture. Like most journeys this one has been made more enjoyable by sharing it with others. One of the people I share my agriculture experiences with is my good friend and business partner Scott.

In this every other week podcast series we talk about the kind of things that come up when one friend lives in the City and the other in the Country. Scott works in advertising in New York City and I manage a 52 acre farm in Connecticut. The dichotomy of our lifestyles is married with our shared values for a better world.

This is an experiment for us without a clear ending. We are counting on you, the listening audience, to provide feedback, share your stories, and if nothing else enjoy being a fly on the wall for a conversation between two good friends who are trying to make sense of what it all means.

If you have opinions about the show or would like us to cover a specific topic please let us know in the comment section below.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

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.

GFP076: Burnout Follow Up

growing farms podcast

Losing your sh** is not an easy thing to talk about. No one is really proud of not being able to keep it together under pressure, yet as small business owners it is something we all go through.

While I do not feel comfortable being this open and vulnerable (yeah, even me) I think that it is an important topic to merrit a few episodes about the different elements of why burnout happens. I am bringing on some guests to discuss the topic and we’ll keep it light.

There is a community that has formed around Farm Marketing Solutions of honest hard-working people. You are literally and figuatively out in the weeds just as I am, and you know what it is like to be in my shoes.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast episode you will learn:

  • Contributing factors to burnout
  • What to do if you feel yourself in the “tornado of negativity”
  • How deep the politics can go at a farmers’ market
  • How Humble Hill Farm has developed over 15 years

Interview with Courtney Sullivan of Humble Hill Farm

humble hill farmHumble Hill Farm is a family-run farm in New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes region, close to Ithaca.

For almost 15 years we’ve been growing flavorful food which is totally free from pesticide residues.

We passionately practice sustainable agriculture by relying only on natural methods to increase our soil fertility and never use chemical fertilizers.

We offer affordable accommodations in the hills of Spencer, just 18 miles south of Ithaca, NY. In less than 30 min you can trade the constant construction, traffic and heat of the city for a peaceful stay in the country.

Humble Hill Lodge is one of the Ithaca area’s longest running culinary agri-tourism destinations.

Fuel up with our delicious breakfasts made from farm fresh foods. If you have special dietary needs or preferences please let us know in advance so we can meet your needs with excellence.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

 

farm marketing patreon

That’s right, you have the opportunity to support and sponsor the podcast. Patreon is like a recurring KickStarter where you donate $1-3 per episode that I publish. That way it is a little easier for me to keep generating content which makes everyone happy.

How do you do it?

  1. Visit the FMS Patreon Page
  2. Create an account
  3. Choose to donate either $1 or $3 per episode
  4. Walk through the rest of the set-up (it’s easy)
  5. Wait for me to publish new episodes

By supporting me on a per-episode basis it encourages me to create more of the shows you have come to enjoy. By having flexible support options (like putting a monthly cap on your donations) it keeps me from abusing our relationship. That, and you can quit any time.

Scott and I plan on maxing out at a once a week podcast to ensure we keep the quality up and to make sure we do not detract from the farm. That’s 4 episodes a month tops.

You support will:

  • Pay my hosting fees
  • Help me repair my equipment
  • Help me purchase new equipment to produce better content
  • Compensate me (and Scott) for the many hours we commit to serving you
  • Help to keep the content free for those who need it but cannot afford it (farming is a tough gig)

 

Take aways:

What repetative stress injuries, physical or mental, can you avoid with a slight shift in your work or mindset?

When is the last time you took time for yourself?

Farm quote of the episode:

You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.” – Sabrina Bryan

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.

May Farm Finance Reports

Nice to see black!

Jonathan Woodford – Sugarwood Acres May Finance Report

farm fencing

When you are coming out of the winter months it is always great to have a moneth when you are making more money than you are spending. I mean, that makes sense right? Even though at times it may not be entirely too far in the black.

Keep the perspective that a lot of the farms in the FFC are start-ups where they are investing in their farms future with equipment, infrastructure, marketing, etc… Many of these case studies and the common story of any beginning business is that most of the profits go back in to building the business.

In the beginning of the year nad the beginning of your business there will be periods where you are constantly spending money and it seems like it will never come back.

But every year Summer eventually comes and crops start to grow, customers come out of hibernation, and markets open up.

 

Back at the Market

Courtney Sullivan – Humble Hill Farm May finance Report

farmers marketSummer Farmers’ Markets are opening everywhere. Camps Road Farm’s summer market started May 9th. Humble Hill Farm is part of the crowd returning to the farmers’ market.

The market is not just a place to sell, but a place to market. There is a difference there and here’s a little story to prove it.

A couple of years ago when I was starting my Chicken CSA I could not yet (legally because I was processing chickens on farm) sell at the farmers’ market. The other vendors were nice enough to let me come and talk up my CSA though. For the first month of markets I came with a chicken tractor, a tent, painted signs, an e-mail list sign up sheet, and marketing materials. I got most of my CSA members from people at the market.

Even if you don’t have a lot to sell, or anything to sell yet, going to the market, if you are able, can prove to be very valuable. I hit my CSA member goal that year and I am still farming!

 

Too Busy to Make Money?

Austin Martin – Squash Hollow May Finance Report

pig roastA weird statement right? Until you’re in the postition you would almost think it is ridiculous. Imagine being “so busy” that you forget to take someones money for something that you sold them.

Well it can happen. Especially on farms. You get so busy with the tiny details and the day to day tasks, not to mention the big projects, that you start to forget the other parts of your business. It is a business after all. There’s HR, customer service, marketing, advertising, finacial planning, billing, insurance, etc…

If you are so busy working on a pig roast, fixing a tractor, making hay, and there is no one to follow up on open invoices they can get lost in the fray. If you do not have a good book-keeping system in place to track all of that in case you do get distracted then that could be money lost forever and you’re left at the end of the year wondering what happened.

Even if you cannot immediately get on your accounts receiveable make sure you are writing everything down!

 

Links to Farm Reports:

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $787.71
  • Expenses: $2,240.77
  • May Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $929.95
  • Expenses: $1,615.40
  • May Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$3,574.00
  • Expenses: $4,975.00
  • May Report

 

 FFC January | Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

  • Vegetables and Fruit
  • Gross Income: $2,677.62
  • Expenses: $1,776.60
  • May Report

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin’ H Farm

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

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $1,684.00
  • Expenses: $3,802.64
  • May Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $350.00
  • Expenses: $1,972.00
  • May Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

SugarWood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $7,138.35
  • Expenses: $7,075.71
  • May Report

 

GFP075: My Big Meltdown

growing farms podcastThis was a tough podcast episode for me to publish. I have been dealing with burn out lately and that has lead to depression.

I am definitely not the only person to have run a small business and have experienced this. There are high highs and low lows when it comes to small business management and farming is perhaps worse than most.

I wanted to share this story, as vunerable as it makes me feel because:

  • This is the stuff you will not find in any text books
  • I’m not the only one going through this right now
  • If you get into agriculture there is a very good chance you will go through this
  • You have my support

Right-click here to download the MP3

Please Do Not Worry

Yes, I have felt lower than I ever have in my life. And no, it’s not over yet. I am actively working on changing my mindset and getting myself emotionally back on track. I have already instituted changes that have had a positive effect onmy well being.

The day this publishes is a day off for me. Something that I really haven’t let myself have this year. I am sleeping in, the farm is covered, and I am going to take it easy.

As low as I felt it never reached complete rock bottom. I am coming back up for air a little quicker than I imagined. I am definitely able to put on a happy face when I need to and part of the vulnerability I feel is the people close to me finding out. But trust me, I’m going to be fine. I just need a readjustment of my goals, my perspective, and my work load.

This All Ends Positively

Most people would not have known about this if I had not said anything. I am only sharing because I have fully embraced transparency with Farm Marketing Solutions. This is my case study of my journey through agriculture. It would not be complete without the lows as well as the highs.

The beautiful part of all of this is that I have an amazing support system. Thanks especially to Kate.

The next podcast episode will be back on track and all positive, I can already feel it. Scott and I have some great stuff in store for the coming months and we are planning to implement them in a way that does not add to my work load. In fact, the new stuff we’re going to roll out actually decreases my workload if you’ll believe that.

Both on farm and on Farm Marketing Solutions I am regrouping, getting focused, and spending time working on me.

Quote of the episode:

“Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” – Jim Rohn

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.

GFP074: Farmers Using Instagram

growing farms podcastIs social media all it’s cracked up to be? It is still working for some and yet, not for others. I speak with one farmer in this podcast episode who is gaining some attention through his efforts in Social Media.

I have found that in particular I have been unhappy with Facebook as a platform. You have to pay to get people to like your page, then, if you have a post that is popular or you wnat people to see you have to pay to reach all of your “fans”. These are people who have liked you page and would like to see your update show up on their home page.

In the end I’m calling shenanigans on the lot of it. Yes, it is still useful, but I have a feeling that we’re in for a big shit in how people are using the internet. For me, that shift is going back to a time before Social Media. I am narrowing my scope and my efforts this year not to try and capture everyone on every platform, but to deliver a lot of value onthe platforms that I remain active on.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • My opinion on the current state of Social Media
  • What hashtags are
    • How to find them
    • How to use them to get discoverd
  • What instagram take-overs are and how they are good for all involved
  • The benefits a smartphone can bring to the farm

 

Interveiw with Colby Layton of Sandia Pastured Meats

At Cottin's FM

Howdy!

I am Colby.  On the 14th of May, I took over as the full time Farm Manager and the President of the business.

It was outside of the middle of nowhere on a warm day in the midst of the watermelon ripening season  when I was born to a cotton farming family.  Later we then moved to the city where I attended high school learning that people talk back to the teachers and other enlightening aspects of the city.  Before senior year, I enlisted as a medic in the Army and attended basic training with the medic training occurring between high school and college.  Coming from the farm and being in the military influenced my collegiate school choice.  From Texas A&M I gathered a baccalaureate degree in Animal Science, an Army commission in the Medical Services Corps branch, and a wife whom you will meet below.

After Texas A&M, Kelly and I moved to the employ of Sandia Agricultural Enterprises, Inc.  SAEI was a dairy milking purebred Jersey cattle.  This land and family was a part of the former “World’s Largest Jersey Dairy, the Knolle farms.  From this chapter in our lives, we determined that we would need to have a career change in order for us to obtain our own piece of the pastoral lifestyle.   In order to achieve this lifestyle, I earned my doctorate in microbiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.  With this new piece of paper in hand, our first child, as well as a tour in Iraq during OIF I & II, we moved to New Mexico where I performed research in biodefense areas.  This research moved us to a position in Kansas City, MO.

During our first moths in KC, we searched a 60 mile radius from downtown for a large tract of land.  Our criteria included a small home, outbuildings, fencing, and a nearby country church.  We also talked with the extension agencies in both Missouri and Kansas.  From these talks and the information provided we concluded that our dream of a commodity-cattle-ranch was not feasible for us with having only limited capital.  We then reduced our land size requirements and found the place we now reside, our home.

While settling into our home, we began to learn more about nontraditional, non-commodity ways of agriculture which were not included in our formal nor in our experiential education.  We are now practicing beyond organic, natural animal stewardship to directly bring you the nutritious products you deserve.

 

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

 

Take aways:

What ways are you approaching farm marketing this season?

What do you think of Social Media and has it had an impact on your farm?

Farm Quote of the Episode:

“There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

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.