Seeing Instagram posts of having little kids on a farm would probably make you think of how picturesque parenting is alongside farming life. Unfortunately, it’s not like that 100% of the time. In reality, farming is hard work with or without parenting, and parenting is hard work with or without farming.
Today we have farmer Kim Doughty-McCannon on the show today to share what it’s like to be a farmer and a mother—her expectations, her reality, and how she manages to do both.
Today’s Guest: Kim Doughty-McCannon
Kim Doughty is a farmer and owner of Bell Urban Farm in Conway, Arkansas. Before setting up her own farm, she has worked different jobs and worked on different farms. By the time she was in the midst of starting her own farm, she and her husband found out they were pregnant. Now, she’s balancing her farming life with her family life.
In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart
- Getting into farming (03:05)
- From working on a farm to starting your own farm (06:00)
- Starting a farm while pregnant (07:15)
- Are there any regrets as a mother or as a farmer? (09:55)
- Farming seriously while caring for a young child (11:55)
- Childcare vs. earnings on the job (15:55)
- Selecting daycare (17:00)
- Fitting the farm into the family (18:30)
- The farm on an economic perspective (23:15)
- Farm efficiency and growing the farm income (28:50)
- Flowers, flower bouquet CSA, flower arrangement (36:20)
- Expectations put on hold (45:00)
- Time management (49:35)
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Diego: [00:00:00] Despite what you might see on Instagram farming while having kids isn't easy. Find out more about that. Coming up. Welcome to Farm Small, Farm Smart. I'm your host, Diego. DIEGO. Today's episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart is brought to you by PaperPot Co. PaperPot Co. is your source for all things, paper pot transplanter.
And one thing that we are now carrying that is paper pot--related are solid bottom flats. This has been an item that has been requested again and again and again, since we opened up shop almost two years ago. They didn't exist before, but they do exist now. They've been about a year in the making. They can be used for indoor growing or bottom watering.
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For today's episode. We're talking farming with kids specifically farming while being a mom with kids. Not easy, not easy, not easy but doable because today talking to mom and farmer Kim Doughty-McCannon, Kim's a farmer who started up a farm while she was pregnant.
And today we're going to be talking about that journey. What was it like? How did it go? How did she manage being a mom and running a farm? She's going to get into a lot of time management strategies of how she balances her time and how she plans out her time. And I think that's something that applies universally, meaning if you don't have kids, I think you're still going to get a lot out of this episode.
She's also going to be talking about starting a cut flower CSA and how that worked for her. And then she'll be talking about balancing it, being a mom, being a parent, being a business owner. How does it work? You see a lot of images on Instagram with kids on farms, and I'm not sure how those farmers get any work done with those little kids around.
Because I know I can't get work done with my little kids around at least serious work over a long period of time. So I think those Instagram images you see are solely up there for the cuteness factor and have quite a bit of false advertising associated with them. Kim's going to share her thoughts on that and the reality of what it's like. Farming and being a mom, let's jump right into it with Kim Doughty-McCannon.
So Kim for you, what was the initial draw into farming itself?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:03:09] Actually, I worked with the state before I worked in an office setting after college and I just wasn't I wasn't feeling. Fulfilled or passionate about that.
So I actually started volunteering at a local farm and then I'm working at that local farm and I just, I really like it being outside, working in the soil. And I mean, local food is something thing I'm really passionate about. And so that's really why I wanted to get into it. And just as a lifestyle choice for my family, I think it's really important. And it's something I really enjoy doing. It's like a job that I feel is not a job if you know what I mean.
Diego: [00:04:09] Yeah, for sure. And that the job. That's not a job that I think a lot of people try to take on, and there's a lot of paths to get into this for you. You worked on some other farms before you started your farms in hindsight, how valuable was that experience?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:04:30] It was just definitely a must. I think for me, I had experienced just in my own, personal garden. But I worked at an urban farm in Arkansas called Little Rock Urban Farming. And they had a small farm market garden. Sold at the farmer's market. So that really helped me learn about, growing produce on a larger scale and selling it at market actually making a business out of it.
And then after there, I actually worked as a service member at an urban farm here in Conway, Arkansas, where I live now. And that really helped me work more with the community and kind of let me experiment with growing all these different things and deciding what grew well here and didn't.
And I also did some garden education programs where for kids in the neighborhood. So I think, all this experience was really invaluable and I think it really helped.
Diego: [00:05:51] What was it that flipped the switch from working on somebody else's farm to wanting to start your own farm? It's one thing to think, I can do this, or I want to do it, but it's another thing to say, Hey, like, this is the moment I'm going to do this. I'm making this decision. What catalyzed that?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:06:11] Hmm. That's a good question. I don't know. I've just always been interested in working for myself, starting my own business, doing things.
You know exactly like I wanted to do then. So I was at a point where I had the experience, I had a little plot of land. I had all these ideas that I wanted to try out. And so it was just a good time for me to give it a go. But I I don't know. I've just always had that entrepreneur mindset, I guess, that I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to be my own boss and I just felt like it was time.
Diego: [00:07:06] And prior to starting your farm, your farm experience was you in the sense of, it was you. And then when you made the decision to start your farm, and as we talked today, it's now you plus more because you started your farm while you were pregnant and you're now a mom. How was it starting up a farm? And balancing pregnancy.
We've had three kids. I know what pregnancy was like for my wife and I've started up businesses. So I know what that was like, but I don't have the unique perspective of combining both.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:07:45] Right. Well definitely challenging. I actually found out I was pregnant really right before we actually started the farm full on.
So, I found out I was pregnant and then, I was like, oh, okay, well, we're so meant to do this, but now I have to kind of dial back my expectations quite a bit because, I want to make time for having a baby and enjoying that time of having the new born. So we got going with the farm and then what we did was we decided to kind of scale it back.
We were going to plant a certain area. I decided to scale it back to half that area. So it would be more manageable for me after I had the baby. And I mean, I just, I was working, working, working, and just trying to get as much done as possible, really, up until the day I gave birth. And then, after that, I just tried to really take some downtime and enjoy that time with my new baby and my husband, and really had to rely on friends and family and my husband really to pick up the rest of the farm work for that season.
So I mean, it's really challenging. And I think you know, just, I really had to rely on family, but you know, we did it. And it was tough, but we did it.
Diego: [00:09:47] Do you have any regrets on either side, either the mom's side or the farmer side for having both overlap here? You're making it work. Are you happy with just how it turned out or no? Or would you have done them separately in a perfect world, but Hey, I mean, I realize we're not in a perfect world.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:10:04] Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely not ever a perfect time to have kids. I think a lot of people wait for a long time, like trying to find that perfect time, but there's just not. And looking back, I don't really have any regrets.
I tried to for a while after I had the baby, I was really trying to like, get a lot of stuff done on the farm. But I felt like I was not doing the farm justice and I was not enjoying the time with my new baby. So I really just said I have to quit worrying about the farm so much.
I mean, we're in our first season, nothing major is going to happen if we don't harvest everything, you know? So I did let some farm things slide the first year in order to spend more time with my new baby and with my family. I was a full-time mom for my son's first year of life.
So he was here with me on the farm 24/7. He now is going to daycare. So I do have time during the day to work on the farm. So yeah, no regrets, but I definitely learned a lot. So going forward whenever we decide to start planning for a new baby, I'll definitely like try to keep these things in mind and really try to plan to set aside extra time to spend with the baby.
Diego: [00:11:51] Yeah. And one of the things you mentioned in the email that you sent to me is you're really inspired by what Jenny Kleiner was doing in Iowa. And I recently talked to her and I asked her about being a mom, being a farmer. And she said having the kids on the farm with me might be this great romantic picture, but it's not realistic.
When I was a teacher, I didn't bring my kids to work with me. And so now when I'm a farmer, I can't bring my kids to work with me. For moms listening to this or even dads listening to this, what would you say based off of your experience for somebody who wants to farm and farm seriously, doing everything you need to do while having a young child around on the farm itself?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:12:45] Yeah. I mean, I definitely agree with Jenny. I had these like really, I think, unrealistic expectations going into farming and being a mom, like I just imagined I would carry my baby on my back and harvest things and I would just set him down and he would play in the dirt while I waited. And maybe some babies do that, but that was just not my reality.
Your children need your full attention. So I think if you want to give farming a full-time, serious go, then you need to treat it like a real job. Like a nine to five job, you need to be able to farm and either have your kids in daycare or have a babysitter or your spouse or a friend watch your kids so you can fully focus on your farm. I think when you try to do both things at once, it just doesn't ever work out exactly like you want it to.
Diego: [00:14:03] I'd a hundred percent agree with that. Like I still do harbor some of those romantic visions of the blend and I can't get the blend to work. It just leaves me. Angry or I feel like it leaves them disappointed because�
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:14:21] Right. You just get frustrated.
Diego: [00:14:23] Exactly. I feel like when I have to be a dad, I have to be just a dad. And if I try and do work while I'm being a dad, I'm either being crappy dad or I'm doing not as good of work as I should have. So it's like why even do the work? And then if I'm trying to do work and then kind of babysit on the side, it's the same thing. I just start getting real angry. Like I got to get this done and as hard as it is, I've had to learn like divide and conquer between myself and my wife for childcare. And when I work, I work when I parent I parent.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:15:03] I mean right now, so I work full time at the farm during the week. And I always kind of set aside the afternoons or the weekends when we can have some family time and we can actually be together on the farm and play outside in the farm and we can do things together as a family. So I'm, I'm having this farm time with my kids, but just in a more enjoyable manner, I'm not trying to get work done but we're out there in the farm enjoying that lifestyle together.
Diego: [00:15:44] Well, one challenge I think a lot of parents face regardless of career occupation, and this may vary around the country is the tradeoff of childcare versus what I can make at a job. How have you found that balance?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:16:01] I was really kind of nervous going into that because you always hear about childcare being so expensive and unaffordable, and it's just better to keep your kids at home, but that's really not what I found. We have a really affordable daycare as far as I'm concerned and it's totally worth it to send my son there for daycare so he can have some time to play with other kids. And they're learning and reading books and playing outside while I can work on the farm. And so what I make when I work on the farm is definitely more than daycare costs. So it's really worked out for us.
Diego: [00:16:58] And for a farm parent out there listening to this, what advice would you have for selecting a daycare based on your experiences for a young child?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:17:07] Our daycare is close. It's about I would say less than a mile away from our farm, so I didn't want to have to drive a long way in the mornings because we live in the South. It gets really hot and humid here. And during the summer, my main working time and harvesting time is early in the mornings. So I need somewhere super close where I can usually wake up early, go out on the farm. We're in harvest, we live at the farm, so it makes it easy for me to go out early.
Then I�ll come back in, wake up my son, ready for daycare. You know, my husband's getting ready for work. So either me or my husband will take him to daycare. And then it's back to work on the farm. So the closer you can find, the better. If you have friends or family that are willing to come in, we did that the first year we had a family. We had someone come in and watch my son on busy days, harvest days. So they would just come right to our house. So I would just run outside and get started.
Diego: [00:18:27] Thinking about raising children, building a business. How do you view the farm as best fitting into the family? Do you look at the farm as for the farm?
I got to do whatever I gotta do for the farm to make it work. And if the family has to bend temporarily to that, so be it because this is a longer-term plan, or have you had to really alter your farm growth or farm plans? To make it so you could have either your expectations and or somebody else's expectations for the family balance to be met.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:19:14] Well, I mean, I think it's a little bit of both. I don't want to bend too much in either way because I, on one hand, want to make the farm a profitable business because I am helping support my family. So we need the money from the farm, but I don't want to kill myself working on the farm to turn a profit and miss this time with my family that I'm never going to get back.
So as you know, it's give or take. One example would be�I was going to farmer's market every Saturday from, I guess it was April to July, early August. So that was taking me away from my son and my husband for the better part of a day on the weekend, which is really the only time we have together.
And you know, at the end of August, we were really seeing that we weren't getting as many customers come through the market. You know, the kids are going back to school, so we made the decision to pull out of the market. At that time just before, because we weren't really making enough to stay there every week, it was a lot of work for me and I would rather enjoy that time with my family. So yeah, I think it's a give and take you just, kind of see what's working and what's not after you get in there.
Diego: [00:20:56] Dropping hours at the farmer's market to, or with dropping the farmer's market to have more time with the family, do you try and do it? Some farmers have talked about on the podcast before about set work hours, enforce boundaries around the Monday through Friday. Like I have to get everything done from S to B time. And I'm only going out at that time if there's an emergency. How do you handle not letting farm work, which can be endless if you let it, be finite and define?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:21:32] Uh, I do. I really do set myself hours really, it's eight to five for me. Monday through Friday at the farm. And since we're doing the market on Saturdays, it's just Monday through Friday, eight to five as soon as my son goes to daycare, I'm like, I'm on the clock. You know, as soon as I get back here at, at eight o'clock, and as soon as I pick them up at five I'm a mom, I'm in mom mode.
I tried to get everything done between those hours. I mean, of course occasionally. Things will pop up that I need to do, but I really try to limit them. And you know, it's really busy in the spring and summer here. Now that we're heading into the fall, it's a lot calmer. But yeah, I I just try to treat it like a nine to five job just like everybody else.
I'm working from home. Our farm�s at our house. So sometimes I'll have family or friends that just want to kind of pop by or chat because they know I'm here. They know I'm always home, but I really try to limit that and just let them know Hey, I'm at work. I can talk to you after this time, but I'm working now.
Diego: [00:22:59] One thing that I think is really important, anytime you start a business, especially if there are other people involved is really defining what that business needs to be from an economic producer. When you decided to start the farm, did you all look to have the farm be a primary economic producer? Was it like this is extra bonus income for us?
Did it have to replace a wage? Meaning, if you came out of the workforce and you're going to start a farm, you got to replace that workforce wage. How did you guys approach that?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:23:37] So my husband, he works full-time off-farm. And I was working before. I was working with the state and then I was working as an AmeriCorps service member.
And for anybody who has AmeriCorps experience, you get a living allowance. But it's definitely not much. So we had already kind of learned to live with my reduced income and on my husband's income. So we were looking to replace my salary with the farm, but it wasn't a lot that we had to replace. So it was really kind of relaxed.
I knew I had to make a certain amount per month, but it wasn't a ton, so easy goals to hit. And now that we're into our second year and the farm�s growing. I definitely do want to start pulling more income in just so we have more for savings and more to put towards building up the farm.
I mean, we have a lot of goals for our life and our farm that we need to start producing more income now. So long-term, we hope for the farm to be profitable enough to where possibly my husband could leave his job someday in the future and work with me on the farm. So we're looking to kind of reach towards making enough to make that happen.
Diego: [00:25:36] So growing the farm to potentially add labor to, it sounds like that's a goal. And then that could be your husband, which, maybe that's a great fit. Do you have any desire to grow where you could hire in and really you all, because I'm assuming maybe your husband would want to come on the farm before you hired outside help.
But as a new business owner, as a mom, as a family, would you find it advantageous or is it in the business plan to bring in outside help? One thing I've gotten a lot of questions about I've had some emails about lately is small farms. While it may be like owning a business. It's really like owning a job because it's very you and you-dependent.
And if you're not there, work doesn't get done. And the way you shift it from job to business is you bring in outside help. The problem with that though can be with small businesses is they don't generate enough revenue or profit to pay for that outside help and yet still meet the goals of the farm owner. When you hear that, when you think about your context, maybe you want to have more kids. How do you think, how do you feel about that?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:26:59] Yeah. So, I mean, right now it's just me working full-time here on the farm. II want to expand somewhat, but I think we still are. I mean, I think I can still do a lot on our, like one acre to make it more efficient and where we can grow more where, I mean, I don't really have to hire someone.
I don't want to go down that rabbit hole of getting too big and having to hire help. I do see us maybe possibly hiring like one or two to help during the summer, during our busy time. So I don't, I want to do the most I can to be more efficient by myself and in the future, if we need to hire someone, so be it.
But I really want to be able to do as much as I can on my own so we don't have to worry about hiring help and paying them. And I think we're always going to be more profitable the smaller we stay and it's only me, maybe me and my husband. We're really not trying to outgrow ourselves.
Diego: [00:28:41] Yeah. Being in the second season, how do you balance growing farming income with finding out what works and proving farm-efficient?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:28:53] We have definitely kind of already changed what we're growing just to improve profits. We started out growing a lot of mixed veggies, salad greens, like everything. I think everybody kind of starts out with wanting to grow a little bit of everything and having like an awesome spread at their market booth.
But this year really switched to cut flowers and micro greens as our main items just because we found in the last couple of years that that's really our niche here in Conway. We don't have a lot of other growers doing cut flower bouquets or microgreens. So we've really seen that�s what we make money on. That's, what's profitable. I really enjoy growing flowers, making bouquets. So we've really kind of switched towards that. And next year we're planning to do even more flowers and more micros.
I mean, a part of me is kind of, I don't know, like feels kind of sad. I kind of feel guilty for not growing more edible produce. But when it's all said and done, I just have to realize that flowers for us is where we make our money. So that's, what's gonna help support our family.
Diego: [00:30:35] Yeah. I think at the end of it, they, you got to find what works for your context and your location. And in some areas, vegetables can be really competitive. And that might mean businesses, and so great. And I think flowers are another niche people can look towards to in this space to expand and grow their farm.
And I visited the farm of Benny and Courtney Pino this summer. And I'll probably be doing some podcasts episodes with them, but they switched over completely from veg to cut flowers because that's where the opportunity was. And that's what fit their lifestyle because of the way those crops were grown better. And it's been off to the races for them ever since.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:31:23] Yeah. I mean, we found that flowers really grow well We have a small plot of land so we can fit a lot of flowers in. And I think the flower market, the local flower market is really starting to take off as were like 10 or 20 years ago is local veggies, local food.
Now it's local flowers because you have all these community members and just like brides, wanting to purchase locally grown flowers. Flowers from a florist that are usually shipped in from across the country or overseas. So, yeah, I mean, I think the flower market is really a profitable area to get into right now, if you're a small farm.
Diego: [00:32:16] When you think about growing the farm to get profit up so you can add to savings, potentially bring your husband onto the farm. Beyond, like what crops you can grow, what are the market streams that you think you can grow to do that? Is it farmer's markets? Do you have to look in a different direction?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:32:40] I think we definitely need to look in some different directions. We have a couple of farmer's markets here in Conway. They aren't very large. And so we can't really pull in a lot of income. We could go to larger farmers markets outside of the city, but that's not something I really want to do just cause you know, travel time and it would mean less time with my family for me. And I really want to stay in our community and like help grow it.
So we do sell on an online farmer�s market weekly as well in our town. And we just started selling to a produce cooperative that aggregates produce from all organic and certified naturally-grown farms all over the state. They will buy our produce or flowers and wholesale them, or they also have a CSA. So they have, I think this summer, it was like a 500 member CSA that they have different pickup locations all over the state. So that's been a really awesome way to sell our flower bouquets. They'll just come to our farm, pick them up, and then off they go, we don't have to do any of the traveling.
We do a kind of a bouquet CSA program. And we do a, like a weekly bouquet, a subscription service for restaurants and businesses in Conway. So mainly the restaurants will order a certain number of bouquets per week and they'll sign up for the whole season up front. And then I make them and deliver them fresh to their restaurant each week.
And all these little things we've just kind of invented to help produce straight market streams for ourselves. Eventually I would like to start selling flower bouquets to grocery stores around town. And I would, I'm really interested in starting a farm stand on site. That's really my goal within the next five years to help increase our profits is to start a farm stand on site, where we could sell all of our flowers, our micro greens, like any other produce we have directly to consumers so we'll sell them at retail prices.
And also I could sell other produce from other local farms and locally made goods similar to Jenny at Dogpatch. That's why I really enjoyed her episode. And that's kind of the model that we want to follow. And I think our community would really benefit from something like that �cause there's just nothing like that around here. So that's what I'm really excited about.
Diego: [00:36:05] Definitely a lot of market streams there. And that's good in the sense of, it gives you some optionality and different places to push product around too if one stream can't take it. Thinking of the flower bouquet CSA, how would you say that's gone over so far? It sounds like it's working.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:36:25] It's definitely working like last season. I was really pushing to businesses and restaurants in our town and it definitely worked this year. I've pushed more to just residents and community members. So they would have a pickup day where they come on farm to pick up their flowers.
With the restaurant and business model, I was delivering them, which I still want to do next year, but obviously that takes some time driving around town. We also have a on-farm CSA. It's through the produce cooperative that I was talking about earlier. So it's not produced from our farm. It's mixed produce from all farms around Arkansas, but we haven't picked a day for the CSA on our farm, so that would be easy for me to mix in a pick-up day for flowers on our farm.
Diego: [00:37:37] Within those CSA�s, what are you charging for a bouquet?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:37:39] I have a pint sized or a quart sized option, so it's either 10 or $20. And then they'll pay for the whole season up front. So we, last year we did a three-month season. It's whatever option they order times three months and they pay it upfront. I next year, I think I'm going to do a four-month season because we have flowers growing all summer long.
So I think I can do a little bit longer season next year. We were just kind of getting into it this year, but I think those are pretty reasonable prices as for the market goes.
Diego: [00:38:26] I think they are. I think they actually good prices. And from what little I know about flowers, but all of it comes from talking to Benny and Courtney, it's pretty profitable. Have you found that within that model? You're making the money you need to make to support that enterprise.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:38:46] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Flowers is where it's at. There are definitely profitable and some flowers are difficult to grow here. We can't grow them all. And you know, you have some flowers that are cut and come again, they'll grow all season long.
But some are just one cut and you're done. So you have to be careful when you're picking your varieties and you have a nice mix and you have greenery to add in there. So there's a lot to think about, but if you get the right mix, I think you can definitely turn a profit with flowers or early on.
Diego: [00:39:30] Yeah, I think one key to moving flowers. Isn't just growing. It's knowing how to arrange them. Also it's much harder than like I'm just going to pick a bunch of stuff and throw it together. What tips would you have for people to get some basic flower arranging aesthetic?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:39:50] Wow. I think it's just something you have to practice at. I have a friend who has bouquet-making experience. She's taken some classes before. So I've learned a lot from her. I know online, Erin from Floret farms, it's a big flower farm.
She has a book and then she has several videos that show you how to make a balanced bouquet, what ingredients you need, what types of flowers. So there's a lot of resources online and in books that you can check out
Diego: [00:40:31] and then thinking of the onsite farm stand. How possible do you think that is? One of the concerns you mentioned in your area was your zone�s residential. You don't want to stir up a bunch of trouble, so it sounds like a great idea to do after you hear Jenny talk about it and I'm there too, but when it comes time for the rubber to hit the road and put this into practice, do you think you're going to face obstacles there?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:41:00] I assume we will face obstacles. I just, I don't really know at this point, it's this big dream I have in my head. I mean, we have the space for it, but we're not zoned correctly. And just like Jenny, this is something that our city doesn't have. Our city has never really had these questions before, so I feel like if I were to start this farm stand, it's just a lot of new territory I would have to be going into with the city.
We are residential, but we're close to commercial. I mean, we're right across the street from a public library, we�re less than a mile away from a college and our downtown, so we're definitely on the edge to where I think a business like a farm stand would be welcome.
We would have to make a lot of infrastructure changes and I don't know. I assume we're going to face some obstacles, but I don't I think we're going to have to work hard, but I don't think it's something that can't be done. I think we're just going to have to go into some new territory.
Diego: [00:42:32] So that continual exploration and that comes with trying to grow any new business for where you're at and what you're doing with everything overall. How have your first few years of farming been running the business on your own, compared to looking back to the days where you worked on those other urban farms?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:42:54] I think that our first couple of years have been good, mainly because I kind of set realistic expectations for myself. And having a baby in the midst of it, I try not to be too hard on myself. I have lots of goals for us. Like the farm stand and growing.
I definitely think they're attainable. Of course, when I worked on other farms, we had two or three or four people always helping. It was of course, a little bit more efficient. We got more work done. You know, everything was harvested. The farm was weed-free. You had people to talk to during the day. But now, I think our farm is so small and it's been easy.
Well, I wouldn't say easy, but it's been doable for me to maintain it these past couple of years now. And next year, I am wanting to expand our growing area a little and we'll see how it goes. We'll see how I'm able to maintain it by myself. And then either I'll be scaling back or if profits are enough, I'll be looking to hire some help.
Luckily for us, we're really close to a couple of colleges in town and they do have these wonderful internship programs for their students during the summer. So I'm also interested in trying to get one or two interns for our farm next year and we'll see how that works.
Diego: [00:44:56] Knowing that those are some of the challenges that you're facing. And then you're also balancing family, balancing being a mom. What are some of the expectations that you just had to put on the side, be it either permanently or temporarily given the overall context?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:45:17] With being a mom I'm a mom every day at like after five I'm on mom duty and you every weekend. There's definitely been some times when I've needed to work on the farm or I wanted to go to a market or somebody invited me to come sell at a market or something and I've just had to say, no. I just had to set boundaries, like this is family time.
Maybe we haven't grown as quickly as I wanted to, but I've always wanted to have a family, wanting to have kids and I mean, you just have to do it. And like I said earlier, you know, for a while I was searching for the perfect time to start a family, but there's just no such thing.
And especially if you're a business owner, there's no such thing as a perfect time. So you just kind of have to do it, but with that being said, I don't want my family or my child to really limit my goals for my business, because this is my business and this is what I'm passionate about and I want it to grow and I want it to thrive.
And I know it will be easier when our son gets older, he can actually help out and be more of a part of the farm. Right now, it's tough because he's a toddler and all he wants to do is run around and you have to watch him like a Hawk.
Diego: [00:47:22] Yeah, no, I completely identify as a dad and sticking with a farming metaphor. It's like you have two plants that you both want to thrive, but you only have one cup of water. And you're constantly trying to pour a little on this one, pour a little on that one, because as an individual, you don't want to starve yourself and your own individuality of your goals, your dreams, your aspirations, and then feel like you left stuff on the table later in life and become bitter because of it or start getting angry at people.
And then you also don't want to give up you being a parent. Because I think then maybe you're not being the best parent you can be because you're not actually, you you've had to leave the individuality behind and maybe the child's missing that.
And then this is probably eternal forever and time struggle that parents have to face. I have these two things calling for my attention and I've just found everybody. You do the best you can do. I think if you're well-intentioned, you try the best, you can never be perfect for everybody, but the thought�s there, and if you zoom out, it probably is more perfect than you actually think it is.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:48:54] Yeah. I couldn't have said it better myself. It's definitely a balance every day. I think some days you get it right, some day you don't, but if you're giving it your all and you do zoom out, I think you will see that you're doing an okay job.
Because if you're passionate about your job and you're also passionate about being the best parent you can be, then I think you're probably doing something right.
Diego: [00:49:28] And really shifting beyond parenting, just to productivity. One thing that you did there is you set your work hours eight to five.
What are some things that you've done to try and either organize your week or things you've gotten rid of. Anything that allows you to do the bulk of what you have to do from eight to five and not spill over too much, because that's going to be a struggle for anybody, kids or not, is really compartmentalizing the time and using that time you have wisely.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:50:02] So I'm a big planner person. I have a paper planner where every week, I write down what I'm going to do, when my big harvest days are, when I need microgreens, when I need to harvest them, when I need to harvest flowers for bouquets and how many�
Diego: [00:50:27] Is that like a Sunday night thing?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:50:29] Usually I would say Saturday, Sunday, I kind of go through and write down everything. But as orders come in through the week, I'll jot them down immediately, so I don't forget anything. Like as soon as something pops in my head throughout the week, I jot it down in my planner. And so every Sunday night, I usually I'll turn over to the next week and kind of scan through what I need to do for that week.
That really helps me. I know some people use their iPhones and put everything down on there. I really like having a paper planner and then I can even carry it with me out in the field and make notes. I think it's always a little tricky at the beginning of the season, cause we're just trying to get going, but now we're kind of at the end of our season, so I already kind of have a schedule like this is when I harvest, this is when I package this. This is what I deliver already in my head. But for me just writing it down is super helpful.
Diego: [00:51:33] Do you find you're a pretty good estimator of what you think you can do and what you actually can execute in the time you have?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:51:41] I am right now just because I've been doing it for the season.
So I kind of know like what takes, like how much each item takes. I do when we're at like in the heat of our flower season or making lots of bouquets that really takes a long time to pick all the flowers and arrange them. I do have a lady come help me on those days when she's available.
And that's awesome because she really helps speed up the work. I try my best not to get in over my head with big orders. I kind of know what I can do on my own. I'm not one of those people who really wants to be like harvesting microgreens and the dark with a flashlight or processing stuff in the dark. Maybe I could, if I didn't have a kid, but now I just try my best to get everything done, so by the time he�s home, I can enjoy the time with him.
Diego: [00:52:59] It sounds like you're a realist and you figured it out. And I think time management can be tricky for a lot of people when they run their own business, because it can feel like you have all the time in the world, which is a blessing and a curse.
We're recording this later in 2018, 2019 is most likely when this is going to air, how are you going to handle your winter in terms of reviewing the year that was and planning for the year ahead?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:53:32] Right. So we live here in the South in Arkansas and we can easily grow veggies like greens year-round. We did last year this, year we're going to take the winter off. So instead of sowing kale and chard and lettuce like I would normally be doing right now, we are not, we are just cover cropping.
We're going to work on building up our soil over the winter and I'm going to take some time off to dig into our notes and our plans and our bills, and to just see how much we made, see what we need to continue, see what we need to cut out, see where we made the most money.
And I am going to use the winner for that for planning for next year. I actually, I also do some artwork and some illustration work, graphic design on the side. So I really kind of focus on that during the winter as well. So that's another reason I am taking some time off from farming this winter.
So I will be selling my artwork at some holiday craft shows and that's another profit stream for me and for our family. Like when the farm is in its downtime and I'm actually selling art. So that helps keep the money going throughout the winter months. And then come January, February is when we really start get getting up again and going with a seed sowing.
And we do a lot of plant sells in the spring. Besides starting plants from farm, we're starting hundreds of plants to sell. So the winter months, it always seems like such a wonderful time to relax and reflect and plan. And I always look forward to this time, but when it comes down to it, you have maybe a few weeks of true relaxation and planning time before you really have to get up and go on again.
Diego: [00:56:08] Yeah. Enjoy it where you can get it when you can get it. And thinking that ahead to 2019. Is there anything that stands out now is a big goal for the farm and or life in 2019?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:56:23] It's 2019. Yeah, definitely. I have this farm stand in. My site's definitely not going to start in 2019, but we're going to try to start taking some steps to get there.
As far as the flowers, I want to try to go grow more. I really want my big goal for 2019 with the flowers is to try to get into at least one grocery store here in our city and just continue selling the flowers that market and through this new South produce cooperative. And I even have this idea of maybe renting this a field next to our property and growing flowers for just photo opportunities for local photographers to come take photos, like senior photos, maternity photos, that kind of thing. So those are the kind of things I'm thinking about for 2019.
Diego: [00:57:32] Yeah. A lot in the works and best of luck with it all for people who want to follow along with what you're doing at Bell Urban Farm. Where's the best place to go?
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:57:44] Probably the most active on Instagram. So you can just search for Bell Urban Farm on Instagram. I also post quite a bit on Facebook. Just search for Bell Urban Farm and our website is BellUrbanFarm.com and that'll Give you a lot of info and link you to all our social media.
Diego: [00:58:05] Yeah. I'll link to it all in the notes for this one. Thanks for taking the time to chat today, Kim and best of luck.
Kim Doughty-McCanon: [00:58:12] Thank you so much, Diego. I really enjoyed it.
Diego: [00:58:15] There you have it, Kim Doughty-McCannon. If you want to learn more about everything that Kim's doing, be sure to check out the links to her farm below in the show notes for this one. And if you're a mom who's farming with young children and you're struggling, or if you're successful doing it, let's chat.
I think this is an underdiscussed topic and I'd love to talk to more moms out there or dads who are raising young kids while farming at the same time. So if that's you and you want to do an interview, shoot me an email: email@example.com. Or hit me up on Instagram at Diego footer. And who knows? Maybe we can have a chat.
That's all for this one. Thanks for listening until next time.
Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.
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