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…)

Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – On training and learning

Forager Farm - training - box of greensEvery single week we learn something new. We never stop learning. Farming is a profession where your weakest link and your biggest problems are apparent almost immediately.

When Jonathon and I decided to start Forager Farm, we had a combined vegetable growing experience of roughly 10 years. We also had one full CSA season under our belt from our time spent working and learning at Captain’s Creek Organic Vegetable Farm in Australia. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – When You Have A Job To Do

Nightfall - training pic - with lambThis blog was in danger of sounding like an acceptance speech where I list off all the names of the people responsible for me being in a position to run a farm. I can’t separate the lessons I have learned from the people who taught me. So to really talk about my training to be a farmer, I’ll pretend it was a planned out education instead of just happening. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Building a Farm from Scratch

Nighfall - seed drillThe differences between working on an established farm and starting your own were evident this month. Rather than learning the ropes and falling into developed routines, we’re recreating some systems that have worked on other farms. We’re solving problems unique to our farm. We’re spending a lot of time cobbling together equipment and systems. And often, that costs money.

The animal groups we are raising this year afford us the luxury of not needing big equipment. We rely on temporary electric net fencing powered by solar chargers. We are taxing our family well while we wait for the funds to dig a well dedicated to our pasture. We drive a 1989 Ford F250 to pick up feed from the mill, deliver chickens to the processor, and move our hay wagon/shade shelter/water tank around the field.

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Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Making the Right Choices on Farm Equipment

If the farmer paused briefly from his ceaseless toil, taking up pen and paper to list the various equipment he relies on continually in his daily labor, an afternoon would surely be lost and the farmer would retire to bed with cramps in his writing hand. Roller tables, harvest crates, wash tubs, pruners, hand hoes, soil knives, drip tape, row cover, lay flat hose, pitch forks, spades, backpack sprayers—hundreds of simple tools and supplies cluttering the dusty corners of barns and sheds. Tractors, rotary tillers, disc harrows, grain drills, box blades, wood chippers, log splitters, cultivators, cultipackers, flatbed trucks, skid loaders—the imposing diesel guzzlers and implements lined up in garages and parkways.

Wild Ridge Farm - tractorWhile I can assure you that hundreds of those simple tools and supplies can make as big an economic impact as a single big-ticket items, still, tractors have captured our agricultural imagination and are the heroes of children’s books and the pride of weathered old planters and harvesters. In or last century, the scale of farming in America has been transformed to favor 1000-plus acre plots which necessitate fleets of powerful tractors and mammoth machines.

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