Bootstrap @ Lemonade Springs Farm – The Tough Reality of Marketing the Start-Up

Lemonade Springs Farm - packaged meatMarketing is the worst part of farming. Contrary arguments and examples exist, I suppose, outside my wallowing amidst the misery of my chosen profession. But this is a known truism; that the dirt-farmer’s is a challenging existence, a rough lot, made worse by the gristmill of the soul that is “sales”. I doubt anyone gets started in farming to get rich, nor do I think most farmers much care for marketing their products. Most of us would rather be digging carrots than hocking them.

Sales is the most essential thing to master if you wish to do this for a living, though, and while I wish dearly that I was writing this from aboard my yacht, the truth is that I’m damned poor and not getting much less poorer. Marketing, it turns out, is hard. But, we (mostly) pay our bills, and while money worries are never absent, I am able to keep myself in fine jugged wines and pay my Harper’s subscription, which is what counts. La vie bohéme, y’all. (more…)

The FSA Microloan Expansion is Coming November 7th!

Microloan ProgramYesterday, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced a major expansion to the microloan program. Starting on November 7th, the cap on microloans will be raised from $35,000 to $50,000. We are thrilled to see FSA expand this program that is critical to young farmers!

Microloans provide operating loans to small and beginning farmers. They have less paperwork than a typical FSA loan and allow for a repayment period as long as seven years. Since the program’s inception, over 7,300 microloans have been made. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Developing a Market for the New Farm

Wild Ridge - Marketing - new logoWild Ridge Farm relies on three converging streams of revenue: CSA membership sales, Farmer’s Market sales, and Restaurant sales.

Approximately half of our revenue comes from CSA membership, which provides an essential preseason financial boost allowing us the crucial funds to buy seeds, potting mix, compost, and all the other bits and pieces necessary to get plants started early and ready to transplant as soon as soil and air temperatures allow. This early income also allows us to fire up the greenhouse as early as February. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Marketing and Sales for the Animal CSA

Marketing and sales – I’m all for them. I’d like to do a bit more marketing and a lot more selling. In our first season, we’ve built our budget on the assumption that we will sell every animal that we raise. Man do I love that assumption.

Nightfall - marketing - chickOur focus is on the CSA model. We offer a chicken share, which includes a chicken every month. We offer a poultry share, which adds to the chicken share a Thanksgiving turkey. These two options have been our bread and butter thus far. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – Marketing the Start-up Farm

I’ve always viewed marketing as telling a story and there’s no better story to tell than the one of growing food and community. I feel a bit biased discussing marketing in farming. Before I decided to be a farmer, I was a marketer. I have a degree in Public Relations and Advertising and have done a lot of self-teaching on graphic design and web design.

Forager Farm - marketing - pictographicTherefore, I knew from the beginning that we’d have to create a feeling of community via social media networks, blogging and email. It was a struggle to understand what exactly would draw people in. Ultimately, we went with approaches that would interest us if we were on the other side.

We discussed for months how exactly we wanted the CSA set up, the price points, how much we could grow for the money asked, etc. Once we decided on that, we knew we needed to create a brand that embodied all things Forager Farm. (more…)

Farming is Public Service: Farmers Need Student Loan Forgiveness

This article was originally posted by Eric Hansen and Sophie Ackoff on the Food Day Blog.  Click here to read the original.

Student loan debt is on the rise. For our nation’s young farmers and ranchers, paying off these loans is a critical barrier to starting a career in agriculture. Young people graduating from college with debt are finding that they either cannot afford to farm and pay down their loans, or are prevented from financing their new farm businesses because of this existing debt.

Just as we’ve provided incentives for Americans to enter medicine, education, and other public service careers, we need to encourage young people to make careers in agriculture. Farming is a public service – we must add farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. (more…)

A Re-Focus on Food Safety

Brian Snyder, PASA

Brian Snyder, Executive Director of PASA

This piece is re-posted with permission from “Write to Farm” by Brian Snyder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.  Click here to read the original.

Food Safety Back On the Agenda

If you thought we were done with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), you can think again. It has been most of a year since the process of responding to newly proposed food safety rules seemed to be smothering every waking moment of our lives, and late December since we heard the good news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had “heard” our concerns loud enough to force serious reconsideration of those first drafts of the Produce and Preventive Controls rules. (more…)

September News: Climate Justice, Food Safety News, and Land Access Training

It’s officially fall  — we hope you’re catching your breath in the fields and watching the new season edge its way in. 

The FDA just released a new draft of Food Safety rules and significant improvements were made. The agency certainly listened, but we’ll need your help to ensure that the final rules work for local farms. Read more about this campaign, NYFC at the People’s Climate March, our work to make farmland affordable and upcoming events in this September newsletter.

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Food Safety Regulation is Back on the Agenda!

Last Friday, the FDA re-proposed draft rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These rules aim to ensure a safe food supply by changing the food safety regulations on farms and food facilities.

NYFC members discussing the new regulations at a letter-writing event last year.

NYFC members discussing the proposed regulations at a letter-writing event last year.

The original rules, proposed last year, would have placed disastrous burdens on small, diversified farmers. In response, NYFC members sprang into action.  NYFC volunteers hosted an incredible 70 letter-writing parties across the country, generating nearly 1,000 comments, out of the 18,582 total submitted. (more…)

NYFC Takes a Step in Protecting Working Farmland with Land Access Innovations Training

Land Access Training

Representatives from over twenty land trusts listened as Equity Trust and other mentors, along with Jen Smith – the farmer and owner at Crimson and Clover CSA – talked about their land access innovations.

“Forty years of farmland conservation, and we are watching it unravel before our eyes.”

That was the warning that John Halsey, president of Long Island’s Peconic Land Trust, delivered to a room full of conservation professionals at this weekend’s Land Access Innovations Training in Providence, Rhode Island. He was referring to the acres of farmland the land trust has protected from development, only to subsequently watch fall out of agricultural production as non-farmers purchase the properties for second, or third, homes. (more…)