February Reports for the Farm Finance Challenge

https://youtu.be/ZOlBSzqKFwA Welcome to the second Farm Finance Challenge post of the year! This is a monumental post because it is proof we're here to stay and we're dedicated. Henry Ford said, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." I believe in that whole-heartedly. This post is testament to the motivation of the participating farms to make a difference in small scale agriculture.

After the 3rd and 4th post well, then it will just be habit, and we'll really start to see the change we are seeking by doing this. Response to the first post has been overwhelmingly positive and we want to thank you, our community, for following along and supporting our efforts here.

 

Keep the Conversation Going

We will continue to invite you to comment, ask questions, and leave feedback. Each farm post has a comments section at the bottom for you to share your thoughts. You can also reach out to any of the Farm Marketing Solutions Social Media Channels which are primarily Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Don't just feedback, but feed-forward (did I just coin a phrase?). If you like what we are doing please shareit forward through your various networks. This project is rooted in a desire to help other farmers and to support the community. We are doing this to raise awareness that your farm is a business and should be treated as such. It is a mindset shift and that shift is only going to happen if it is on people's minds.

 

Highlights

Every month we'll select three farms to highlight. We'll try to provide equal exposure for all the participating farms. The complete list of the farms and their respective pages can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the post.

 

A Sinking Feeling In Your Gut

Colby Layton - Sandia Pastured Meats February Report

My last scheduled market day at Badseed Farmers Market.

It is that time of year where the winter stores are running low and Spring hasn't quite shown it's beautiful green face yet. Farmers everywhere are preparing for the season, purchasing livestock, seeds, feed, and making final repairs on equipment before the extended sprint that is the growing season. As you'll see from everyone's numbers there are quite a bit of purchases and not a lot of money coming in. "Seeing these costs together, causes a sinking feeling in my gut."

When you're farming with the seasons this is a thing that comes with the territory. This is the point when you have been dealt your cards, you're sending one or two back to the dealer, and you're getting ready to play your first hand of the season. It is risky and a little unnerving. At some point you are going to have to play that hand because Mother Nature is not going to wait for you.

You will rack your brain and torture yourself with questions like, "Is this the right amount of chickens?" and "How am I going to sell more CSA shares this year?" The good thing is that as you crawl into your head and obsess about what's to come, the sun comes out and  brings a warmth that you almost forgot since the end of last season. The bight rays of sunlight pull your out of your own head, remind you why you are doing this, and give you the confidence that Summer will be here and that you can do this.

 

Creatively Diversifying Your Farm Income

Austin Martin - Squash Hollow Farm February Report

Squash Hollow FarmMore and more small farms are surviving and thriving through a diversification of not only production methods, but marketing as well. Jean-Martin Fortier and Eliot Coleman are published authors, I have Farm Marketing Solutions and my chicken tractor book, and Jack Spirko and Austin have podcasts. There are  benefits to this other than just the monetary value of what we are providing. Let me explain.

In conversation with older and more experienced farmers I noticed a common thread of concern. That they would hand the reigns of farming over to the next generation and there would be knowledge lost in their passing of the torch. Their tips, tricks, and techniques would go unshared, undiscovered, to be lost and found again through trial and error. No one of the people above completely invented the techniques they use on their farms, they're just the first to write or talk about it. Their stories are the distillation of their life experiences of talking to those more experienced farmers.

We are living in a time where information is almost too easy to share. Within the mindless chatter that is most of the internet are these individuals who are taking their knowledge and experience and sharing it in a meaningful way with those who care to listen. Now something like Jean-Martin's book The Market Gardener can get exposure like never before. JM told me that he discovered that his mission in this life is to "grow more farmers".  He put that sentiment into his book and I heard it in his workshops at PV2.

That is also the heart of the Farm Finance Challenge, to grow farmers in a smart and effective way. If we all want to see positive change in the world we have to do it in a way that provides an alternative to the industrial food system while working around the red tape and loop holes within that system. Change will not come quickly but it is happening and the free sharing of information is what is going to get us there.

 

Record Keeping Will Make Pricing Easier

Jonathan Woodford - Sugarwood Acres February Report

sap bucketPricing your farm products is always a tricky process. It is a balancing act on what you think your market will pay, wanting to cover all your costs, and staying competitive with other farmers and the supermarket. Unless you have all the information that goes into those various elements it can be a guessing game with potentially bad results.

Doing market research to see what other farmers are charging as well as what the prices are at the local supermarket is a great way to give you a ball-park for what you should be charging for your farm products. When I was pricing chickens originally I went to every store in a radius that I thought my typical customer would travel to buy food. I took my notebook and wrote down every price for chicken that I could find, from conventional to organic. Those numbers combined with my Cost Of Goods Sold analysis gave me the price I thought would be appropriate for selling chickens.

When you are starting a farm that's about as good as it can get. Once you have started your farm however it is good record keeping that is going to win out. If you keep good records you will then have an exact number on what you spent on feed, labor, and other expendables that you need to produce that product.

Jonathan acknowledges that in the end of his post saying, "I believe this challenge and record keeping, will make pricing my hay and syrup much easier to figure out."

 

Links to farm reports:

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $630.00
  • Expenses: $627.98
  • February Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $11,700.00
  • Expenses: $3,471.28
  • February Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$1,986.00
  • Expenses: $1,646.00
  • February Report

 

  FFC | Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Aquaponics and consulting
  • Gross Income: $792.64
  • Expenses: $183.31
  • February Report

 

 FFC January | Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

 

 Little River Eco Farm

Little River Eco Farm

  • Grass-fed beef, fowl, and free-range eggs
  • Gross Income: $2,152.00
  • Expenses: $3,889.00
  • February Report

 

 Naked Ginger Farms

Naked Ginger Farms

  • Vegetables, fruit trees, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $120.00
  • Expenses: $5,422.00
  • February Report

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin' H Farm

  • Vegetables, fruit, livestock, eggs, and honey
  • Gross Income: $443.00
  • Expenses: $4,402.77
  • February Report

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $1,845.24
  • Expenses: $6,217.59
  • February Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $556.00
  • Expenses: $961.00
  • February Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

SugarWood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $1,531.77
  • Expenses: $2,176.13
  • February Report