Payoff from Consumer Conundrum

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA 

Love it or hate it, the government is getting good at identifying food safety problems and
notifying the public when illnesses occur. Here is the latest. 

But it still lacks the ability to trace and identify the producers who caused the health threat.

At the same time, it’s also promoting more consumption of fresh foods, going so far as to identify PVF’s – powerhouse vegetables and fruits – based on a nutrient dense  measurement that not long ago was considered fringey.

The consumers who care about any of this now find themselves in the position of wanting to eat more healthy foods while being supplied continual reasons to mistrust the far-flung food supply chain that produces it. “Got romaine?” was the refrain at this month’s farmers markets, so more consumers are starting to connect the dots between local and safer. So we should thank the government for keeping everyone on
high alert, and if need be, use a food safety premium to justify our prices.

SF photo Recall

Remember, even though you may be using municipal water and do all the harvest yourself, you need to keep Food Safety top of mind. Farms of all sizes benefit from abiding by GAP standards, and attending a GAP workshop is a worthwhile investment for any farmer who is serious about their business. Take it from Wally. 

FIND OUT HOW BACKYARD FARMERS ARE KEEPING GOVERNMENT ON THEIR SIDE IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE

Local Flower Business Pops Up

Courtesy of Roxanne C.,  Philadelphia PA

How do you break into the cut flower business? By setting up a pop up florist shop inside a retailer that;s looking to establish its local cred. This is SPIN farmer Lourdes Casañares’ display inside a fruit market she frequents in Manitoba.

SF photo fb flowers

She hopes to build up her market here because it is close to her backyard farm, and it is on the busiest highway east of Manitoba. The market owners have been tagging her in their own social media account, which will help increase her own followers. Selling bouquets direct is a cross-selling opportunity for her wedding and events services.

We held a member meetup with Lourdes one year ago where we reviewed how to start a flower farm the SPIN Way, and plotted out Lourdes’ land base, crop repertoire, sources of supply, marketing plan and financial goals. Her trailer cooler should be done next month, which will support her production goal of 50 bouquets a week. Her income goal this year is $9k on 1,660 sq.ft. We’ll see how close she comes at the end of the year. In the meantime you can follow her progress via her   FB and IG accounts: masaganaflowerfarm.

LEARN FROM ENTREPRENEURIAL BACKYARD FARMERS LIKE LOURDES  CASANARES IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE  

 

Beautifully Easy Economics

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Market Garden

There’s an easy way to get into the habit of tracking and covering your cost of doing business. Itemize your expenses, like gas, seed costs, farm stand fees, plot rental, sales bags, and then figure out how many units of a crop you need ot sell to cover it. Here’s an example.

What a SPIN farmer sees here are beautiful bouquets and gas money.

What a SPIN farmer sees here are beautiful bouquets and gas money.

These are my gas money crop. Flower can bouquets. Cost to produce them is minimal. Most of the flowers are perennial or gathered from the roadside. Cans are brought to me by customers and other vendors at market. Time to gather and arrange is about 2 hours for 10 cans. 10 stems per can. Price is $10/can. Two hour round trip gas expense is about $50.

The point is to produce just enough units of certain crops to cover your operating expenses. So you develop the mindset of tying together your business goals to your cropping strategies to be sure whatever you grow is earning its keep.

LEARN THE BUSINESS OF GROWING FOOD FROM THE BEST MINDS IN FARMING TODAY IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE

 

SPIN-Farming Member Meetup with Cathy LeValley

SF photo PPT Cathy LeValley mailchimp healthy snacks

WHEN: July 12, 2pm ET

WHERE: Online

REGISTER: Members can register here.

LEARN FROM THE BEST MINDS IN BACKYARD FARMING TODAY, LIKE CATHY LEVALLEY, IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE

# 1 Success Factor No One Talks About

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

Soil building. Sustainable growing practices. Eliminating waste. These are what new farmers obsess about. They’re overlooking something that has a far more important impact on their business. No matter how good a grower you are, your farm’s success is dictated by something you can’t always control, and don’t think too much about until your gas bills start coming in or you start nodding off at the wheel. It’s distance to market.

Even if your market commute isn’t taking a big toll on your expenses or health, it’s a key business factor that needs to be weighed when considering new or different markets, or figuring out how to reach your revenue goal. Here is your key decision:

Longer drives to bigger markets with greater revenue versus shorter drives with potentially less revenue

To help you decide you need to calculate gas expense, commute time, and hours spent at market for each type of commute. Here are some of the trade-offs:
  Longer drives require that you are able to reach your revenue benchmark and has to justify the gas expense

  Short distance drives means less gas expense, but also maybe less revenue

  You might have to go to several short distance markets to meet revenue, but that means more time at markets

There are no easy answers to this crucial question, but not addressing it means your farm business is less likely to go the distance.

 Don't assume a long commute isn't do-able or worth it. And yes, farmers are commuters too.

Don’t assume a long commute isn’t do-able or worth it. And yes, farmers are commuters too.

LEARN THE BUSINESS OF GROWING FOOD FROM FARMERS WHO KNOW HOW TO GO THE DISTANCE IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE

Best Tool for Beginners: Cash Flow

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon, SK 

Many beginning farmers who enroll in our learning programs already know the standard operating equipment of a SPIN farm – a cooler, tiller and seeder. An important tool they haven’t thought about is cash flow.

Cash flow is crucial for any small business, and it’s variability is a source of a lot of stress. One of the main objectives I had in creating the SPIN-Farming system was to make cash flow more steady and consistent.

One way to do that is to get off to a strong start early in the season. Being first at market with crops gives you early cash flow, before many other farmers have even started harvesting. It also gives you a jump on establishing regular customers. Examples of some of my early season crops: carrots,radish, scallion, spinach

Your crop repertoire also has to be diverse enough to support sales through mid and late season. So you need to aim to have a wide variety of crops,,consistently, as long as your season lasts.

Another way to achieve steady cash flow is to plan for it. That’s why important factors in SPIN’s business planning process is setting a revenue target and determining the number of your marketing weeks. Divide the two to get your average weekly revenue target. That’s your cash flow, and by tracking it each week, you can gauge your progress and be able to make adjustments as you go along to keep you on target, or change your targets, if need be.

Maintaining cash flow is among the most stressful parts of any business, but farmers have a lot more control over keeping it steady than they realize. They just have to plan for it, by thinking through their production strategically, and applying SPIN-Farming’s business framework. You may not always like the numbers you see, but you won’t be left at the end of the season asking what happened.

SF photo blog $1,000 spring farm stand

Early season cash flow is what SPIN farmers plan for. This is a $1,000 market stand in early May. .

LEARN THE BUSINESS OF GROWING FOOD FROM THE BEST MINDS IN FARMING TODAY IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE

 

Be Ready to Be Dynamic

Thanks to Ray Derksen,John Greenwood, Darmaris Katt, Beth Hagenbuch and Adithya Ramachanrdan for helping Wally lead last week’s meetup. and sharing their end of the year assessments in 5 areas: crops, marketing, work flow, gear and revenue.

SF photo fb Taking Stock 5 members non holiday aThe main theme was in-season revamps to farm plans are now the rule rather than the exception. SPIN farmers are constantly having to change throughout the season in response to food trends, customer tastes and competition.

What that means for 2018: 2 plans – one that is “core”, based on predictable, steady best sellers. And another that is a flex plan, based on more niche, experimental crops that can be changed out quickly throughout the season. Real-time analysis and record keeping are more important than ever. Lots of software out there to help you do that.

Flowers are a blooming trend, along with farmers having to take a more active role in building traffic to their farmer’s markets. Finding motivated labor is a key challenge, and controlling costs is the top 2018 priority. Lots more insights on the current state of the backyard farming business in the replay. Now playing 24/7 when you log in here.

How Long Can You Keep SPIN-Farming?

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

Over the 10 years I’ve been doing SPIN-Farming workshops this question comes up at just about every one. SPIN-Farming is certainly more labor intensive than riding around on a tractor all day. And I know I’m not getting any younger, so the age issue isn’t going away.

SF photo blog Wally selfie young

Eventually you get too old to do anything, and that’s true for many vocations. Based on my experience, I would say going into your 60’s you should be good, if you’re in decent health. If you’re obese, then probably not. My wife Gail is in her early 60’s and works harder than people 30 years younger. But she is starting to feel it.

This is where SPIN-Farming concepts can really be put into play. You can adjust your intensity level and crop repertoire. I don’t think anyone in their 60’s wants to do a Curtis Stone-type intense greens production regime. Instead, you can skew intensity levels to 1 and 2 type production. Or maybe even do just 1 type production, or specialize in one crop, say garlic.

Once you get into your 60’s and 70’s many have supplemental sources of income, so they are not relying on SPIN-Farming solely for their bread and butter. When you’re younger, yes, you can be full out earning 6 figures at the top of SPIN’s revenue benchmarks. As you get older, not so much.

You can cycle through SPIN’s four models of operations many times throughout your life, ramping up and dialing back your business, depending on circumstances. As you get older you might change from full-time year round to part-time year round or part-time seasonal, with non-intensive production. If you’re multi-locational, you can give up the plots furthest from home base and start downsizing. SPIN-Farming is readily adjustable to the energy you can you put into it, and totally predictable because you can quantify the rewards you’ll get back. It’s up to you to make the calculation on how, when or even if, to quit. When those outdoor plots get to be too much, there’s always the den or basement.

GET TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE FARMING EASIER ON YOURSELF FROM SPIN FARMERS ATALL STAGES OF LIFE IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP COMES WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY SPIN GUIDE.