Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Farm businesses

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from someone who has been there, done that in several small operations.

     People are very concerned about the foods they eat. We are encouraged to "eat healthy" and "eat fresh" every day.

     Roadside farm stands are common. Farm markets are popular. Organic farming and all natural production methods enjoy rising acceptance.

     Some of this is a reaction to big agriculture. Large corporations long ago discovered they could make a buck raising grains, veggies, fruits, and meat animals. The problem is, they have taken big production a step too far--frequently ignoring taste, nutrition and the utter joy found in a vine-ripened tomato. 

     Increasingly, people are moving away from big agriculture. It has its place, but "not on my table" seems to be the siren song attracting people back to small farms.

     Supermarkets advertise freshness and establish an organic veggie section. Chefs attract people with fresh inputs, grown locally. And farms are eagerly supplying the herbs, veggies, fruits, berries and meats.

     Example: Working full time, a lady had little time to tend the garden behind her house. She had a few roses, some bulbs, peonies, and a patch of lawn. She cut the grass herself with a manual mower, and everything else took care of itself. One day she had an idea. First she got rid of the grass. Then she had two raised beds built, each 4 feet wide and 20 feet long. Today, she plants more than a dozen types of lettuce in the beds. With successive plantings throughout the season, she harvests and sells to restaurants. She emails availability to chefs, and they email orders. She left her corporate position and is now a full time farmer.

     Example:  A small farmer grew tired of the government price support program for the corn he grew. He had four small fields, and he rented additional land--just to make ends meet. He figured he could do better. The following spring, he planted corn in all his fields except one--this began his transition. In the smallest field, he planted about 3 acres of strawberries. The following year, in another field, he planted raspberries. Today, he no longer plants any corn--except the sweet corn which he sells in his farm stand. All the berries are offered to the public in a pick-your-own operation, and he sells at farm markets as well as at his own farm stand. Chefs love the fresh berries. Any left overs from these marketing endeavors are made into sugarless preserves. He's making more money and enjoying it more.

     Example:  A teenager converted his grandmother's greenhouse into a farming operation. Here the teen grows a wide variety of herbs for the local markets. He is experimenting with different types of eggplant. He tends the operation before and after school, and he is putting away savings to expand or go to college. 

     Example:  A few chickens in the backyard led Jennifer to establish her current small business. She raises free range, all natural chickens for the eggs and the meat. She sells at local markets and direct to the general public.

     Farming is a business. All these examples show what can be done on a small scale. You must adjust your operation to the local needs or reach out beyond your area. Small operations grow bigger all the time--it's all a matter or your ingenuity and sweat. 

     Questions? I retired when I turned 75. You can email me your questions at and put BLOG in the subject line (so I don't delete). Quick answers from my 40+ years experience founding and growing small businesses. Your privacy is always respected.  

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