GFP023: Boot-strapping when you are beginning a farm with Nathan Winters of Hill Hollow Farm, Petersburg, NY

Starting and running a farm is no small task no matter who you are. You can plan until your heart's content, but there are variables and things will inevitably change. That doesn't have to be a bad thing though. You will learn a lot through farming, about farming itself, and about who you are and what you are capable of.

I will be honest with you. I feel like I am constantly behind. I have three weeks worth of things that needed to get done yesterday. It wasn't for lack of planning on my part. I did a ton of planning. You can listen to the beginning episodes of the podcast. But, even though I had a well-laid plan, things have changed.

Everything takes longer than you expect (plan for that). The weather happens, outside forces happen, family happens, sh** happens (especially with 480 chickens). The best thing you can do is to stay positive, still have a plan, and do you best to become a success.

When you are just starting up you want to do a lot of testing. You will be testing what plants grow best, what feed your animals like the best, and you will be testing the market to see what sells the best. I know farmers that never thought they would get into the type of farming they are in now. However, they are good farmers And good farmers are good business people. they listen to what their customers are telling them and they respond with an awesome product.

With all that testing you are not going to want to buy all the infrastructure right away, even if you are able to. Beg, borrow, and steal (don't steal, it's just an expression) until you know two things.

  1. You have a market to sell what you are doing.
  2. You love what you are doing.

If you find out the market is going one way after you bought everything and set it all up, you're going to end up with either a pile of equipment that you cannot use, or worse a pile of product that might rot.

Boot-strapping is not just about saving money. It is about making sure you have the right tools for the right job.

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In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • Connecting with customers through "new media" (Social Media)
  • How to find the resources you need for your farm
  • The benefits of boot-strapping
  • Good "old fashioned" farm marketing techniques
  • How to make yourself present in a community when starting a farm
  • How to keep yourself sane when times get tough

Interview with Nathan Winters of Hill Hollow Farm Petersburg, NY

Nathan Winters Hill Hollow Farm

Hill Hollow Farm is a beautiful, family owned and operated, small-scale farm located in Petersburgh, NY.  As family members we work together and support each other in our farming endeavors. Currently the farm produces grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, and poultry and operates an organic vegetable CSA.

On our farm we believe in leaving the land more fertile than when we found it. This means that anything that goes into our soil needs to be beneficial for the entire biosphere of the farm, from the songbirds to the microbes. As we harness the nutrients in the soil to grow the vegetables in our garden and the grass in our pasture, we also return nutrients to provide continuous stability. Our goal is to encourage people to break free of the industrial food model, enjoy and restore the art and value of cooking, share meals together and buy food that is in line with their values and that enhances our soils, keeps the interest of our future generations at heart and provides optimal nutrition.

Our Basic Values:

  • Everyone deserves good food. Organic and natural food should be available at an affordable price.
  • We farm in a way that is sustainable and restorative to the soils we occupy.
  • Animals raised for meat are treated with compassion and are eaten and sold with dignity and are raised in a manner that is as close to their natural environments as possible.
  • We strive to build symbiotic relationships with all of the humans, plants and animals that exist on the farm.
  • We believe that the core component to bringing back the value in social capital, local economy and community involvement is local food production. We all must eat and therefore food has and always will be the one thing that connects us all together.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

Do you have at least a rough plan that your follow?

Where is your business headed next? Do you have the resources to get there? If not, do you know where to find them?

If you don't mind helping me reach people:

Positive reviews in iTunes help be a lot. Other farmers are searching for this type of information and your endorsement helps me reach them. Would you mind taking a second and signing into iTunes to leave me a 5 star review. Hay, I might even read your feedback on the show. Here's the link.


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.