Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – The Farming Community

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetCreating a community of food lovers has always been at the top of our to-do list. A community that is centered on food but goes beyond just the consumption, one that supports sustainable practices in not just farming, but day-to-day living.

Our first year of operation hasn’t allowed for much community building. In fact, it hasn’t allowed for much beyond just surviving. We realized quickly we bit off more than we could chew and decided we needed to focus on our priorities as a first-year vegetable CSA.

However, within the CSA model, and in particular how we chose to set-up Forager Farm, community is at the heart of it. Our process of pick-ups meant we met with our members on a weekly basis, face-to-face, to deliver their boxes of fresh vegetables. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Farmer Training

Wild Ridge Farm - training - tractor in fieldIt was clear from the beginning of my farming internship at Chubby Bunny Farm that my boss, Dan Hayhurst, loved the work of growing vegetables. Most mornings I would be lying in bed, just waking up around 6:30 am, and I’d hear his truck roll up to the barn. I’d listen as Dan got out and started hauling sacks of feed out of the barn to drive out to the small flock of chickens and few pigs on pasture. This was my cue to get up and stumble about my trailer, putting on filthy work pants and shirt, probably mildly hungover, quickly frying eggs and making coffee so I could meet him and my co-interns in the greenhouse or at the tailgate of his truck in time for the morning meeting. I knew he’d been up for hours thinking on the farm, planning the most efficient way of doing all the days’ many tasks, and it was barely 7 am. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Building Community

Nightfall - community pic - turkey in handIn the last five years, each place Liz and I called home came with a vibrant agricultural support network. Simply by the virtue of location, we were surrounded by farmers, friends and food that guided and taught us what we know and how we act. We still rely on this former (and yet current) network, calling with questions and concerns that are answered with generosity and encouragement. But now we live in a different state, and our Indiana home is a bit different.

Because we started a new farm rather than joined an existing farm, we didn’t plop down into a well-developed network. We are still finding our support but this month especially we are realizing that the voice in the corn was right; if you start to build it, sure enough, they will come.
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Bootstrap @ Forager Farm: Where Policy Meets the New Farm

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetAs a first-year farm selling direct-to-consumer vegetables policy is not something we’ve had to deal much with as of yet. However, the overarching Food Safety Modernization Act or FSMA rules still to be implemented tend to hang over the decisions we make as a farm in the next couple of years.

We have plans of integrating livestock into our vegetable operation, including a small goat dairy as well as laying hens and pastured pork. This allows us the ability to turn waste from the vegetables into a saleable product and also provides a built-in fertility program. Not to mention utilizing the animals to manage weeds (especially perennial), clean up finished crop, and incorporate cover crops. (more…)

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…)

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…)

Bootstrap @ Lemonade Springs Farm – A Modern Farm Education

Lemonade Springs Farm - tomatoesIt’s important to remember that the greatest investment you can make for the health and success of your farm is you. This is a platitudinous sentiment, perhaps, but accurate enough. If your farm is to be, like many of us hope, a hand raised up against the monoculture- a place of resiliency amidst collapse- then you would do well to train and educate yourself towards such ends.
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Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Looking Back on Training

Alissa seeding at Chubby Bunny.

Alissa seeding at Chubby Bunny.

It was clear from the beginning of my farming internship at Chubby Bunny Farm that my boss, Dan Hayhurst, loved the work of growing vegetables. Most mornings I would be lying in bed, just waking up around 6:30 am, and I’d hear his truck roll up to the barn. I’d listen as Dan got out and started hauling sacks of feed out of the barn to drive out to the small flock of chickens and few pigs on pasture. This was my cue to get up and stumble about my trailer, putting on filthy work pants and shirt, probably mildly hungover, quickly frying eggs and making coffee so I could meet him and my co-interns in the greenhouse or at the tailgate of his truck in time for the morning meeting. I knew he’d been up for hours thinking on the farm, planning the most efficient way of doing all the days’ many tasks, and it was barely 7 am. (more…)