January Reports for the Farm Finance Challenge

http://youtu.be/UhpgBGMGh5E This is the first ever public Farm Finance Challenge report! We are breaking ground on a whole new level of transparency and we hope that it is as exciting for you as it is for us!

You may remember from our post yesterday that there are over a dozen farms involved in this Challenge. Each one of us comes to the table with different stories, diferent scales, and different ways to do things. However we are united under one ideal, to solve the problem of financial sustainability in small scale agriculture.

Each month we will be publishing our records on the Farm Marketing Solutions blog to collaborate on finding answers to the hard to ask questions like, "Can we make it? Can my farm succeed?" While this Challenge highlights a bakers' dozen of farms the over-arching principal stretches to small farms everywhere.

Give Us Feedback

We invite you to comment on the reports published. Find your favorite farms and follow them. Keep the conversation going and give us feedback. Farming is a struggle and we are going to make it work only by working together. We only ask that you keep it nice. If you post anything mean or inappropriate about the participating farms we will remove the comment and ban you from the website. This is not a critique on different farming practices but rather a place to go for mutual respect and support.

Highlights

Every month we will pull a few highlights from the various posts by farmers. We'll start the post with those highlights and then give you a chance to click on whatever farm you wish from there.

 

January Farming in New England

What January farming in New England looks like.

Dan Berube - Berube Farm's January Report

"For a New England vegetable farm, January is really a prep month. Berube Farm sells from July-October, and we don’t have any greenhouse space so as far as farming goes, we’re shut down. January is when I get organized, so that’s when things get busy outside, I have plans to refer back to. So for January I decided how many CSA customers I’ll be able to take for 2015, and put shares on sale to my returning customers. In February I’ll open sales up to new customers."

Dan doesa great job at sharing what he is doing on farm in the Winter. The FFC will create a cash flow statement throughout the year. Ifyou are beginning a farm it's good to really know that winter gets pretty thin as far as finances and work. There seems to be plenty to do with looking at seed catalogs, updating your record keeping systems for the year, creating budgets, editing your farm website, etc... But in most cases the income is just not there.

 

Record Keeping Is Easier Than We Thought

Amanda McKelvey Hall - Rockin' H Farm's January Report

Rockin' H Farm

Every month all the participants are sharing some thoughts on the month and maybe a hard lesson learned or two. This month Rockin' H Farm brought up a really good point. Early in their post when they thought to compare January's numbers to December's numbers they did not put anything down because "We did not keep a good record last year so we do not have this data for December."

Then at the end of their January report they comment on their recordkeeping and how it has changed,"Tracking all of our finances is a lot easier than we thought it would be when you set up a system and commit to updating daily or at least every-other day."

I have very much found the same thing. The real trick to this whole thing is discipline. No matter if you are doing it on a notebook, in Quickbooks, or on an excel spreadsheet, as long as you are actually taking the time to write things down you will have the information. If you cannot seem to put the time aside then you will be left in the dark.

The Farm Finance Challenge exists to encourage maintaining that discipline. The participating farmers are already feeling the positive effects of accountability and it shows in the fact that we have numbers to share.

 

Building Farm Infrastructure On The Cheap

John Suscovich - Camps Road Farm's January Report

messy farm storeHere on Camps Road Farm we have been doing a fair amount of "setting up for the year" like Dan Berube mentions up above. Reworking the business plan, upgrading things on the farm, and preparing for the year.

One of the projects we have in the works is setting up a farm store on the property. We have an old milking room as part of an old milking barn. It was full of ...stuff and was an absolute mess. However, it is structurally sound, really only needs a good cleaning and a coat of paint, and is in a great location on the farm.

We saw a need on farm to have a dedicated retail space, we took stock of what our assets and infrastructure were, even if they were looking pretty ugly, and we are taking action to ustilize our existing building to solve the problem of no on-farm retail space. In the end it will only cost some labor and some paint but will result in a cute little marketing avenuefor our farm products.

In addition to clearing it out we checking with the town zoning about putting it in and attracting customers. There is a permit process, public hearings, and a $210 fee just to just to use a room that already existed on our private property. Isn't that nice? When dealing with small town politics I find it's best to just jump through the hoops and get the job done. It may seem unfair to pay $210 for something that you already have considering the tight margins of a farm, but whatever. Grin and bear it and make the best effort to make your new farm store a success.

 

Links to farm reports:

Berube Farm

Berube Farm

  • Vegetables including squash, tomatoes, and beans
  • Gross Income: $730.00
  • Expenses: $1,909.60
  • January Report
Bird Creek Farms

Bird Creek Farms

  • Organic vegetables, 200 chickens, and alfalfa
  • Gross Income: $0.00
  • Expenses: $1,807.48
  • January Report

 

Camps Road Farm

Camps Road Farm

  • Hops, apples, pasture-raised poultry, and events
  • Gross Income:$2,528.00
  • Expenses: $1,501
  • January Report

 

  FFC | Fresh Farm Aquaponics

Fresh Farm Aquaponics

  • Aquaponics and Consulting
  • Gross Income: $2210.31
  • Expenses: $262.27
  • January Report

 

 FFC January | Humble Hill Farm

Humble Hill Farm

  • Vegetables and Fruit
  • Gross Income: $1043.00
  • Expenses: $6365.23
  • January Report

 

 Loony Acres

Loony Acres

  • Eggs, vegetables, and mixed livestock
  • Gross Income: $400.00
  • Expenses: $92.00
  • January Report

 

 Naked Ginger Farms

Naked Ginger Farms

  • Vegetables, fruit trees, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $0.00
  • Expenses: $278.74
  • January Report

 

 Rockin' H Farm

Rockin' H Farm

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

 

 Sandia Pastured Meats

Sandia Pastured Meats

  • Dairy, eggs, and livestock
  • Gross Income: $2,469.50
  • Expenses: $1,810.60
  • January Report

 

 Squash Hollow Farm

Squash Hollow Farm

  • Pastured pork and chicken
  • Gross Income: $231.99
  • Expenses: $540.00
  • January Report

 

 Sugarwood Acres

Sugarwood Acres

  • Maple syrup, wood, and hay
  • Gross Income: $114.00
  • Expenses: $3520.87
  • January Report