Throughout the winter, we took a class Saturday mornings entitled “Growing Your Small Market Farm.” The culmination of the class was to write a business plan for your farm operation. Along the way, we formed High Hopes Gardens LLC for legal and financial protection of our non-farm assets, learned a great deal, and met some good people. We began writing a plan for an on-farm store – thinking that we spent too much time driving to and sitting at farmer’s markets and that our time would be better spent selling at retail from our farm – with poultry as one of the main draws.
The poultry processing rules put a kibosh on that aspect, but we still went ahead with a survey to other on-farm stores nationwide and to about 200 local consumers to gather info on profitability factors of on-farm stores and attitudes of local people towards shopping at an on-farm store.
Although not totally discouraging, we realized that it probably wouldn’t work on our location on a gravel road. So although we did lots of research, much of it original, we did not think it would work. We had our on-farm visit from our instructor last Friday and had looked at our schedules and life and found no room for a business. In some ways, Linda is starting a business in getting the sustainable and entrepreneurial program off the ground at school. The time in feeding ourselves, raising the kids, and having two other jobs doesn’t leave a lot of room for new adventures. Another challenge is that if we wanted to take the leap, having about three acres of hilly ground would be hard to replace one off-farm income.
So we’ll not have this immediate expectation of starting quite yet. We’ll look back and see if we’d like to do more long-term crops (christmas trees, nuts, lumber) or just try a short season at market with fruits, flowers and berries, or perhaps off-season hoops.
Deciding to let this drop, if even temporarily does not come easily or without its own angst. We’ll try it on for a while, breathe for a few seconds a day, and see where it brings us.