GFP034: Advice on beginning a farm with Shawn Scott of Hoosier Roots Farm

The single most important thing when starting a farm is research. This podcast covers some great research information used by myself and my guest Shawn as we start and run our own farms. It does seem at times like there are a million things to learn and get done when starting and running a farm. It takes copious amounts of planning, diligent note-taking, and a whole lot of luck to get it right. In the end, "getting it right" is entirely up to you.

There are as many types of farms as there are farmers to work on them. I am doing my best to talk with as many types of farms as I can through the podcast and even just for my own personal growth. I have found that as the market shifts and changes there are three things that many farmers use (at least one of) and that I use in my farm marketing.

  1. Farm Website
  2. E-Mail List
  3. Printed Materials

My farm website acts as a digital brochure for my farm letting everyone who visits know what I produce and where they can buy it. I also build value into my products and my business by sharing my story and updating visitors.

My e-mail list has been a money-maker for me. With just a small e-mail list I managed to sell out all of my chickens every week. In my e-mails I update people when I have chicken available, what vegetables I may be selling, and I also include recipes and farm news.

Printed materials work the good old-fashioned way. Whether it's business cards that someone can take home to remember to visit the website, or a flier in a store window announcing the beginning of my CSA and the start of my farm, printed materials have surely helped me build an audience. After all, not everyone spends a lot of time online.

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In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • How your background plays into starting a farm
  • The importance of supports systems
  • When to do research and when to take action
  • Balancing finances and investments when starting a farm
  • Unexpected expenses of time and money
  • Tough lessons learned year one on the farm
  • How to set your prices
  • How to find your market
  • Reaching out to other farmers

Interview with Shawn Scott of Hoosier Roots Farm, Bedford, IN

Shawn was born and raised in Cicero, Indiana. He went on to earn an engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and has always yearned to be his own boss.

Amy was born and raised in Fort Wayne. She went on to earn a masters degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Indianapolis and has been inflicting pain on (ie: helping) people of all ages since 2001.

Their paths crossed in 2004 and, being consummate risk takers, they decided to start a life together in Oregon.They spent countless weekends exploring the mountains, rivers, and beaches of Oregon. They purchased a house and remodeled almost every square inch, built a huge garden, learned to keep bees and tended to three urban chickens.

They gained a deep appreciation for locally grown food, farmers' markets and locally crafted beer. In 2012, baby Eloise was born and, as often happens, life was forever changed.

In the simplest of terms, we want our daughter to be a farm kid. So, in April of 2013, we packed up our belongings and moved back to our home state of Indiana. Hence, the name of our farm, Hoosier Roots Farm. In May of 2013 we actually bought the farm, 35 acres and a small home in Bedford, Indiana. We want our daughter to know where her food comes from and be part of a diverse, responsible and local food system. Our mission is to grow healthy plants and animals in a sustainable and transparent manner while informing and supporting our local community.  Our ultimate goal is for the farm to provide enough income to sustain our household expenses so we can quit our day jobs and get our hands dirty on a full time basis. Stay tuned for the rest of our unconventional story....

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

What can you accomplish in the "less-busy" months that will help you in the very busy months?

What systems are currently in place for dealing with problems and tasks on the farm and what do you need to work on?

What aren't you doing to market you farm and what steps can you take to increase sales?


My skills are ever-evolving as an interviewer. 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 Twitter, or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.