Farm Update January and Audio Test

I wouldn't say that 2016 has come in with a big! More like a pop, and a sizzle, a little shuffling, and then a nap. Scott and I have been working on getting the website back to 100% with only some luck. It is taking some time to undo several years of technical blunders in order to save everything and move on.

The site did not get hacked, it is not unsafe. What happened is that we were getting mired in technical updates, code fixes, and general nerdy stuff. What we really want to do is produce content to share with you.

With that in mind we have made the move to SquareSpace. In oder to get everything changed over and still maintain some online presence there are inevitable blips. Getting the podcast feed to update is one of those blips.

Let's see if this works! If it does and you come to the new site let us know what you think. We know about the broken links, fixing that. More curious what you think about the design and direction.

GFP084: Starting a Farm Crawl

There was a problem that I now had a farm stand, I did a lot of work to make my farm beautiful and accessible, but no one was showing up. How do you get people on your farm without breaking your marketing budget? The answer: Farm Crawl

A farm crawl is a one day event where multiple farms in the same area open their doors, hold tours, and cross-market each other to the benefit of all. Customers travel from farm to farm to see what the farms have to offer, get tours, meet the farmers where they work, and become more connected to their food.

My farm is off a back road that’s off a back road. There is no such thing as incidental traffic from someone just driving by. I needed to think of something that would draw people to let them know that I was back here. As usual when looking for inspiration I looked to the other farmers that I know. Ethan Book of Crooked Gap Farm has a great podcast where he talks about his farming journey. Some one those episodes mentioned a farm crawl and BOOM, inspired.

I borrowed the concept from listening to the Beginning Farmer Show with Ethan to start my own farm crawl. In this episode Ethan and I discuss my new farm crawl, his established farm crawl, and how both of them came to be.

 

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • How setting up systems will make your life better
  • How to look for efficiencies on your farm
  • How to start your own Farm Crawl
  • My “first world problems” with getting a new computer

 

Interview with Ethan Book of Crooked Gap Farm


Ethan Book grew up on a quaint little street in Cedar Falls, Iowa playing with toy tractors on his bedroom floor and pretending to farm with his John Deere pedal tractor in the driveway.

Weekends were often spent on his dad’s farm or the farms of his uncles and extended family. As Ethan grew up his dreams of being a farmer faded a little bit, but never truly went away.

Ethan has pursued that dream of becoming a farmer and has done a great job of documenting his journey through his blog and podcast over at The Beginning Farmer. I am honored to call him a friend. Though we have never met in person I feel like I know so much about him through the stories he shares on his podcast, through his writing, and in conversations I have had with him “off air”.



Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:



Take aways:

How are you going to get people onto your farm?

What is one area on your farm that is in desparate need of increased efficiency?


Farmer quote of the episode:

“Computers are like Old testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.” – Joseph Campbell

“Never trust a computer that you can’t throw out a window.”- Steve Wozniak

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.

GFP083: 5 Lessons Learned On Farm This Year

I know we have all learned a lot this year. There have been good times, there have been bad times, and everything in between. This farm podcast episode focuses on five lessons learned by one of the Farm Finance Challenge participants Jonathan Woodford of Sugarwood Acres.

  • Better record keeping is the key to success.
  • Things don’t always go according to plan.
  • It’s important to take time to help others.
  • Do what it takes to get the job done.
  • A farm is a wonderful place to raise a family.

 

What is my name?

Jonathan Woodford

What is the name of my farm?

SugarWood Acres

A brief description of my farm:

160 acre certified organic farm on which we produce hay, maple syrup, small amount of grain and corn. We raise couple beef and pork for meat.

Where is my farm located?

388 North Third St. West Farmington Ohio, 44491

What are my main operations?

In 2013, we ran a 700 bucket operation, increased to 1200 buckets for 2014. 2014 we sold small square bales, mostly for horse feed. We also did some large round bales, which sold for a beef operation. We bought two angus heifers to start a breeding stock. We have raised a couple feeder cows in our front yard for a few years prior. This year we started with three feeder pigs. For 2015, we are looking into expanding into bees, more feeder pigs, two dozen chickens and half dozen turkeys.

How big is my farm?

We have about hundred acres of fields and forty acres of woods. My wife and I both work at the local school. I farm to provide my family with food that we know where it comes from and how it was raised. I enjoy farming and try to make a little extra money while doing it.

How would I want people to contact me?

SugarWood Acres on Facebook

@SugarWoodAcres on Twitter

Why am I participating in the Farm Finance Challenge?

I started keeping track of hours spent collecting sap for the past two years. I try to start keeping track of tractor time but failed to do a good job at it. I have wanted to get a better idea of how much time we spend doing things and if we are making our time back in our sales.

What is one thing you are struggling with on your farm?

This year will be the first time doing farm taxes. I have no clue what to expect. I have a hard time pricing my products for sale.

What do you hope to get out of the Challenge by the end?

At the end of this challenge, I hope to have a better understanding of where I spend my time. I also will have a better idea of how much time and money it will cost me to run the farm.

 

Take aways:

How will better records effect your decision making?

How do you create those positive habits that will propel your farm forward?

 

Farm quote of the episode:

“Decisions are the hardest things to make. Especially when it is a choice between where you should be and where you want to be.” – Anonymous

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.

GFP082: Managing Employees

I am super pleased to bring Curtis Stone back on the show for another episode to talk all about managing the farm, employees, and growing more farmers for the future. We cover the nitty-gritty of harvesting information on farm and what to do with that information once you have it.

Managing employees can be one of the most emotional and difficult things you can do farming. Forget crop losses, acts of God, and poor markets, other humans have the potential to drive you insane like nothing else. I am finding however that there is a way to mitigate and even eliminate that stress. Data.

Data is the key to most things. Knowing where you’ve been, where you are at, and where you are going using cold hard data to drive your decision making.

Alright, so I have fun writing “cold hard data” because I’m sure I saw it in a movie once. I’m not a cold hard person. Far from it. I mean, have you seen my daughter Mabel? She turns me to mush every time I think of her. The problem I run into as a manager is that at times I need to be cold and hard and without concrete facts that can be very difficult to do.

However you do it, and for whatever reason, tracking things on your farm is critical to growing your business. I get asked all the time, “John, I want to start farming, where do I begin?” Begin by tracking your personal finances, budgeting for yourself, using a calendar to keep organized, and if you do all that go out and try to grow some stuff.

 

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • Spreadsheets don’t have to be scary
  • Curtis’s three most used spreadsheets on farm
  • It’s good to dork out about data management
  • Using data to:
  • discovery market trends
  • sort out best practices
  • maintain a financial picture of your farm

 

Interview with Curtis Stone of Green City Acres

Before starting his urban farm in the fall of 2009, Curtis had absolutely no previous experience in farming or even gardening. Up until 2008, he had been living in Montreal, trying to make a go at being a working musician. It was many years ago, when he heard the old cliche, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. That was a turning point for him in that he knew that it was important for us to be active participants in our society, rather than just being by-standers.

But it wasn’t until Curtis discovered Permaculture, while searching around on the internet for sustainable building methods, that it opened up a pandora’s box of information and inspiration for him. From there, he knew that he wanted to live in a way that was life affirming, not destructive. He left Montreal in March of 2008 to return to his home town of Kelowna, BC, to try and pursue this kind of life style. It was a bike tour down the west coast from Kelowna to San Diego in fall 2008 where he visited off-grid homesteads, eco villages, and urban farms, that inspired him to try to make a difference through his own actions.

Upon returning from the trip totally inspired and ready to do something involved in sustainable ag, but not exactly sure what yet, a friend of his directed him towards SPIN farming. The stars must have aligned at that movement because once Curtis discovered that there was a way to farm that required very little investment, no need to own land or heavy machinery, he was confident that he could do it. He spent the rest of the fall and winter of 2009 studying SPIN farming and various other gardening and farming books, and then decided to go for it. With a little bit of money saved from a 6 month season of tree-planting, he had everything he needed to start a farm.

After completing a successful and profitable first season in 2010, Curtis is a case study example that the methods taught in the SPIN farming models, are simple and easily transferable to anyone, including those who have no experience.

Through the off-season, Curtis works as public speaker on food related issues, and is a consultant for multiple community food projects throughout Kelowna. In September 2010 he was awarded ‘gardener of the year’ from the city of Kelowna’s Communities in Bloom.

 

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

 


Take aways:

Can you think of at least one stressor in your life that could have been solved by having better information?

Ever want to strangle an employee? Think about it. Was it actually your fault as a manager or theirs as a worker?


Farm quote of the episode:

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness.” – David Dunham

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.

GFP081: On The Shoulders of Giants

What separates professionals from amateurs is experience. There’s no getting around experience. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, take all the classes, but until you try and do whatever it is you’re trying to do it’s all just theory. What I cannot help be be fixated on these days is tracking that experience, documenting it, so it is easier to learn from past experiences and work toward my holistic goals on farm.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” means that you are picking up where someone else left off. Learning from their experiences and building your own. We live in an age where information is processed and passed along at lightning speed, why not take advantage of it and start to share some of your own?

There are two sets of “giants” in your life. The first are the farmers that came before you who have written books, made the videos, set the stage, and carved the path that we’re following now. Those include the people who are discussing what they are doing in real time much the way I am doing with Farm Marketing Solutions.

The second giant is YOU! You have the opportunity every day to gain experience and build on what you have already done. You don’t need to share your experiences with anyone else. Not everyone is comfortable with airing their dirty laundry for everyone to see. But internally, within your farm, you can take pictures, take notes, create records, and detail your actions so that at any time you can go back and see exactly how and why you did something.

You make the best decisions you can at the time based on the tools (which includes knowledge) you have at the time. Looking back and thinking “man I wished I had done that” is pointless. Instead look back and say, “man, I did that and it didn’t work out. Why? What can I do to improve?” Figure out how to improve, and then go do it! Take action! No more theory! Get out there and gain more experience and embrace failure as openly as you do success.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

 

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • the story of a guy who keeps trying
  • $75k on 1/3 of an acre farming
  • the benefits of being specialized
  • the necessity of being agile
  • how being organized can save time, money, and headaches
  • DATA, F-ING DATA
  • it’s ok to make mistakes

 

Interview with Curtis Stone of Green City Acres

Before starting his urban farm in the fall of 2009, Curtis had absolutely no previous experience in farming or even gardening. Up until 2008, he had been living in Montreal, trying to make a go at being a working musician. It was many years ago, when he heard the old cliche, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. That was a turning point for him in that he knew that it was important for us to be active participants in our society, rather than just being by-standers.

But it wasn’t until Curtis discovered Permaculture, while searching around on the internet for sustainable building methods, that it opened up a pandora’s box of information and inspiration for him. From there, he knew that he wanted to live in a way that was life affirming, not destructive. He left Montreal in March of 2008 to return to his home town of Kelowna, BC, to try and pursue this kind of life style. It was a bike tour down the west coast from Kelowna to San Diego in fall 2008 where he visited off-grid homesteads, eco villages, and urban farms, that inspired him to try to make a difference through his own actions.

Upon returning from the trip totally inspired and ready to do something involved in sustainable ag, but not exactly sure what yet, a friend of his directed him towards SPIN farming. The stars must have aligned at that movement because once Curtis discovered that there was a way to farm that required very little investment, no need to own land or heavy machinery, he was confident that he could do it. He spent the rest of the fall and winter of 2009 studying SPIN farming and various other gardening and farming books, and then decided to go for it. With a little bit of money saved from a 6 month season of tree-planting, he had everything he needed to start a farm.

After completing a successful and profitable first season in 2010, Curtis is a case study example that the methods taught in the SPIN farming models, are simple and easily transferable to anyone, including those who have no experience.

Through the off-season, Curtis works as public speaker on food related issues, and is a consultant for multiple community food projects throughout Kelowna. In September 2010 he was awarded ‘gardener of the year’ from the city of Kelowna’s Communities in Bloom.


Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:


Take aways:

What are you doing to document and learn from your mistakes?

Are you making time on farm for record keeping? Is it enough time?


Farm quote of the episode:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

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.

GFP080: Welcome Back

Hello everyone! The podcast was on hiatus as we deal with the technical issues of a 3 year old website and podcast. Technologies change and I was unable to farm and keep on top of the changing times.

But that’s OK!

Because the Growing Farms Podcast is back. Back with the every other week schedule. Scott has a new day-job which is monopolizing his time so Farm Fantasy Camp is on hiatus until further notice.

In today’s show I go over what I’ve been up to on farm and with Farm Marketing Solutions as well.

 

Items Mentioned in Today’s Farm Podcast

 

Take aways:

If you had to pare-down to the minimum you needed to do to get by, what would that look like?

Is there anything you can take a break from in order to come back fresher?

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 iniTunes if you liked the show.

FFC004: Lightbulbs

Topics covered in this farm podcast:

  1. John & Scott do not like Skype
  2. Windows 10 might reinvent how we look at garbage
  3. John’s going on vacation, Scott too has gone on vacation
  4. Is there valor in working long hours?
  5. Hours Tracker App on iPhone for logging work hours
  6. Accepting that things will not be perfect
  7. How many things would fix themselves if I did not touch them?
  8. John uses an iPhone 6+ to shoot, edit, and upload videos
  9. Lower polish and increased iteration
  10. Adjusting what you grow to suit your needs and the needs of your market
  11. John goes camping in Canada
  12. Why take time off in the summer?
  13. Things are going to go wrong, and that is OK!
  14. John speaks nonsense…
  15. Mabel is the 4th generation going to this camp ground in the Suscovich family
  16. Sugar Island of the American Canoe Association
  17. Does camping losing its’ novelty when you live on a farm?
  18. Scott loves to take trees out of the ground, very exciting.
  19. Flame weeders are not sophisticated
  20. Work-life blend vs. work-life balance
  21. Finding work that you love makes everything easier (surprise)
  22. Four lightbulb theory: family, friends, work, health
  23. Getting to the core of why John & Scott work together
  24. John strokes his ego and thinks he’s super-human
  25. How easy is it to “check out” and quiet the chatter in your brain?
  26. The E-Myth Revisited
  27. Diego and Curtis on The Urban Farmer: Systems
  28. John recaps the Farm Crawl, it was a success

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.

GFP079: How to Start a Hop Yard

Topics covered in this farm podcast include:

  • Mistakes made when starting a hop yard
  • What hops are
  • How hops are grown
  • How many plants can you fit per acre for production
  • Sometimes there’s just no choice but to spray
  • Insight into the Craft Beer Industry’s effect on hop production
  • Where do you find good farming information

 

Interview with Geoff Keating of The Hop Yard

Geoff has spent the majority of his life as a Maine resident, leaving only to earn his bachelor in Communication and study the principles of marketing at colleges and universities in Vermont, New Hampshire and London England. He returned to Maine in his 20’s to co-found Level8 Design Studio, a design and development studio focused on innovative web solutions.

Beyond internet technologies, Geoff’s passion and curiosity has led him into the world of craft beer. Captured by the allure of beers intangible flavors, and retained by the continuous exploration of craft beers industry pioneers, Geoff has embedded himself into this exciting field.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

 

Farm Quote of the Episode:

“The basic thing is that I want to do the best work possible, and I can only do that if I’m relaxed and have a lot of energy. And that can only come from taking time off.” – Jason Scott Lee

 

Take aways:

How can you help spread useful information for other farmers?

What mistakes have you learned from that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

 

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 iniTunes if you liked the show.

FFC003: Talking Nonsense

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

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

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.

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

David 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 iniTunes if you liked the show.

FFC002: I Call Shenanigans

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

 

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

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 footer
diego footer

It’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

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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

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:

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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

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

courtney sullivan humble hill farm

Humble 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:

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

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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

 

 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

This 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

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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

Is 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-Cottins-FM-e1428906180916-150x150.jpg

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

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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.

April Farm Finance Reports

https://youtu.be/sQ_nJ7VcMCE

Highlights From The Month:

 

Farmers on Instagram

Colby Layton - Sandia Pastured Meats April Report

This lamb would not go to the flock and its ma.  I ended up tackling it so that I could carry her close enough that she could see the others.  Once there, she ran to them and drank from her mother.

A smart farmer is one that is willing to adapt to new information and resources. Colby is no exception. Having now watched his online farm marketing efforts after he became a participant in the Farm Finance Challenge this guy does it all.

His latest adventure is into the world of instagram.

Any small business and even life itself is an iterative process. You try something, you test the results, and you try again. That's Colby. Not afraid to try something new on his farm or with his farm marketing.

In this month's report Colby shares his success with this new social media channel and what it has been doing for his customer engagement. He proves a point that new technology doesn't have to be a bad thing if it gets the job done.

Keeping your customers engaged and up to date with what is happening onthe farm will increase customer retention and word of mouth. That is most easily done these days with a smart phone and a social media account. Be open, be honest, and be ready for positive feedback.

Looking at You Business Holistically

John Suscovich - Camps Road Farm April Report

john suscovichYour tractor breaks, you lose a field of crops to pests, it downpours at a farmers' market and you don't hit your sales goal, stuff happens. Due to the nature of farming we tend to get caught up in all the details big and small that seemingly matter a lot with how your farm operates.

I mean, this stuff really weighs on us, and it is hard. While it is important to have a certain level of focus on the details it is also important to keep an eye on the larger holistic picture. How is that small loss or victory weighed against the benefit of the whole.

On Camps Road Farm we oftenhave to make a sacrifice to benefit the whole of our business model. The farm may fall a little behind in a certain area but the whole moves forward in a positive direction. The farm will purposelfully and intentionally fall short to help our brewery or distillery, and that is ok. The small picture stuff might be a little annoying, but weighed against the whole it all makes sense.

Farming is a possion and a vocation. It is not about making money, producing food, or being a steward of the land. At the end of the day it is self-serving act of selfishness. You are working harder than you ever have before because you love some part of it. Your trials serve a greater whole of self and community.

 

Links to farm reports:

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $357.71
  • Expenses: $408.17
  • April Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $1,440.00
  • Expenses: $5,415.24
  • April Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$4,428.00
  • Expenses: $3,691.00
  • April Report

 

  FFC | Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Aquaponics and consulting
  • Gross Income: $5,705.00
  • Expenses: $2,105.00
  • April Report

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $1,270.45
  • Expenses: $5,022.38
  • April Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $679.00
  • Expenses: $1017.89
  • April Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

SugarWood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $640.00
  • Expenses: $2,383.25
  • April Report

 

GFP073: How to Start A Slaughter House

Imagine that you built a business that relied on someone else doing their job well in order to properly satisfy and impress your customers. Sounds like a lot of small businesses right? Now imagine that you lost that important connection and you are suddenly up a creek without a paddle. There are people in this world more brave than I am who are willing to take a seriously leap of faith and take control of the critical step in their business. One of those people is my guest on the show today. She saw that her business relied too heavily on outside resources, and not only that, she was paying a lot of money to those sources as well.

She took matters into her own hands when she decided to start her own on farm slaughterhouse or abattoir.

Right click here to download the MP3

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • To "go big or go home"
  • What it means to "go big"
  • What vertical integration can do for your farm
  • What happens when you keep hearing "yes"

Interview with Kate Stillman of Stillman's At The Turkey Farm

kate stillman
kate stillman

Kate quite literally grew up in the business of farming- helping on her parents veggie and her grandparents dairy farms- she learned early to embrace her farming roots and hone her skills as an entrepreneur, caretaker, manager, vet, sales person -even undertaker- she has managed to leave no stone unturned.

Kate attended the University of Massachusetts, today she farms her two properties with her sons Trace and Jaide. (They have a little ways to go before they approach helpful!).

Kate has successfully brought Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm to Stillman Quality Meats- developing am extensive CSA network, and creating a vibrant farmers market system.

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Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Farm quote of the episode:

see a need

Take aways:

What is one thing you currently out-source that is crucial for your business? Would it make sense to take that task over yourself?

If you took no this new project, what would it mean for your farm?

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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.

GFP072: Proper Farm Planning Makes All The Difference

Does it feel like sometimes you want to just not have a plan? If you don't have a plan then nothing can go wrong, right? Let me tell you, it is that time spent planning that helps you figure out what is going to wrong and how you will be able to handle it when things take a turn. Without my planning time and the time spent researching and organizing I would be a total wreck right now. My farm plans for the year have completely been turned on their heads several times already and we're only not just about to get into May.

Today I interview two farmers from my area that are taking their planning and analysis to make some very positive changes on their farm. I'm even going to cut the text short today and really encourage you to listen to what Paul and Rebecca have to say.

 

In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • Analyzing what your farm goals are
  • How farming kicks your butt every year
  • How farming is a business if you want to make a living off it (I know that seems obvious, but trust me)
  • How the CSA model can end up costing you (the farmer) a lot of money

Interview with Paul and Rebecca of Fort Hill Farm

Paul Bucciaglia

Like many small-scale, direct market farmers, Paul did not grow up on a farm. He grew up gardening at the family home in Naugatuc, CT, and studied agriculture at Penn State University and plant biology at the University of Minnesota. After spending time in mid 1990s working with Paul and Chris Burkhouse on their operation, Foxtail Farm, just northeast of the Twin Cities, Paul decided to leave the laboratory and explore small scale organic farming.

In 1999, Paul returned to New England to apprentice at  Brookfield Farm CSA in Massachusetts, and later mangaged Holcomb Farm CSA in Granby, CT. After two successful seasons at Holcomb, Paul had a clear vision of what his own farm would look like. In the fall of 2002, Paul moved to New Milford and plowed the first four acres of what would become Fort Hill Farm on the sandy soils of the Sunny Valley Preserve.

Now, after many years of cultivation and the hard work of friends and family, Paul and Rebecca continue to work the land with the help of a talented crew of aspiring farmers and workers.

Rebecca Batchie

Rebecca came to farming through her combined love of plants and food. She trained in horticulture at Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, NY, and then ran her own horticultural business for 10 years. During that time, she became increasingly drawn to vegetable crops and spent much of her time designing, building, and growing vegetable gardens.

Farming was a natural transition for Rebecca. She worked summers with Paul while earning a degree in Critical Social Thought at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. After graduating in 2011, she joined Paul in running Fort Hill Farm. She and Paul joyfully welcomed their son, Luca, into their lives in July of 2013. In her “spare time,” she enjoys hiking, sourdough bread baking, photography, spiritual practice, traveling, and (in her next life), cheese making and fiber arts.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

Are you giving away too much on your farm?

What is one thing you could track better to make your farm more efficient?

Farm Quote of the Episode:

"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." - Paul J. Meyer

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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.