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 @ 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 @ 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 @ Forager Farm – On Equipment and Capital

Forager Farm - equipment - water wheelUnlike many other young farmers, we had access to land even before we made a concrete decision on whether to grow vegetables or not. We were fortunate enough to have family and friends willing to rent us a slice of land. Ultimately, we decided to rent land from some of our friends. This option allowed us access to some equipment as well as a place to live.

Renting versus buying, whether land or equipment, allows us to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. We realize now after operating for a few months, that the tractor we’re renting doesn’t fit all of our needs. The wheel spacing prohibits us from using the tractor for cultivation and weeding and limits the size of our raised beds.

Forager Farm - equipment - water in fieldsWe realized that hand weeding and using wheel-hoes and stirrup-hoes isn’t enough, especially when you get just under three inches of rain in one night and a continual rainfall for the next 10 days, amounting to double the average rainfall for the month of June. Let’s just say, once it dried up and we were no longer drowning in water, we were drowning in weeds. With that said, going forward we’d like to invest in some sort of mechanical weeding equipment, which we feel is necessary until we can get the weed seed bank under control.

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Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – Each Seed Has a Story

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetEach seed has a story. Some seeds have been passed down relatively unchanged for generations. Others have been breed for certain characteristics and traits. And others have been adapted for climates like North Dakota.
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Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – Why I Became a Farmer

Forager Farm - dirty handsWhen I was young I wanted to be many things: an architect, magazine editor, zoologist, but a farmer was not one of them. The closest idea of a farmer I had was my grandpa. I knew he had cattle, and a barn, and a lot of farming equipment, but eactly what he did I was unsure. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – Welcome to the 2014 Season!

My name is Hannah Sargent and I am a marketer turned farmer turned marketing-farmer. My fiancé Jonathon Moser and I own and run Forager Farm, a vegetable CSA in central North Dakota and are in our first season!  We are on a mission to revive our food culture by providing fresh, local produce directly to our members.

Forager Farm - intro post 2In January 2013, we jetted off to Australia to live and work at Captain’s Creek Organic Farm, an organic vegetable farm located one hour north/northwest of Melbourne, Victoria. While there we managed a vegetable CSA (or vegetable box scheme as they say down under) with an average of 100 boxes going out to local customers within 100 miles of the farm every week. We learned the ins and outs of the operation and fell in love with it. (more…)

Announcing the 2014 Bootstrap Writer Series Winners!

We are excited to announce the start to the Bootstrap Writing Series of 2014!

This year we’ve selected four farmers from across the country who are in the early stages of starting their farms to share their season with the NYFC community.  Wild Ridge Farm - carrotsEach writer will be writing an piece once per month through the rest of this year, sharing the inside scoop of their operation. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Blue Sage Farm – Reflections on Policy and Regulation

Blue Sage Farm - In the barnI have to say I feel really lucky that I have a great dairy inspector.  I’ve heard horror stories about how an inspector can make your life miserable but I haven’t experienced that.  I think it helps that we built our facility new and didn’t try to retrofit an old barn.

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – A Year in Review

North Country Creamery - catching up on paperwork 2 - smallNow I understand how Kristin Kimball filled her book The Dirty Life with stories from her first year farming. I’ve been working on farms for over a decade, but this was my first year running a business, and goodness gracious, I could fill a volume with this month’s blog topic “year in review”. I started this business because I predicted I would always love the bovine, and enjoy milking them like crazy. Luckily, I still do. Little could I imagine how much else would be involved in realizing that dream. (more…)