When starting a business, they always say that you have to be the first one to do something because that’s going to be news. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the first in your area, or to be the first in your country, even, to do something and do it well?
In this episode, we’ll get to know about how it was like for Buddha Browett to be the first urban farmer in Sweden, along with his wife, Sophia, and what it was like starting up that venture.
Today’s Guest: Buddha Browett
Buddha and Sophia met and lived in Barcelona for six years before moving to Sweden and setting up Sweden’s first-ever urban farm. They’re now in their fourth year of farming and business has been flourishing.
In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart
- Diego opens the episode and introduces Buddah Browett (00:30)
- Was the initial plan to cater to chefs and restaurants? (01:33)
- How much are restaurants swaying the direction of the farm? (03:44)
- A restaurant request crop and other crops that sell well (05:34)
- Has being the first and largest commercial urban farm in Sweden given you a marketing edge? (06:59)
- Dealing with land size and seasonality in Sweden (08:22)
- How to go about short farming seasons and sustainably living (12:10)
- The land size, farming season, and being able to support a family (14:24)
- Pricing and Swedish market conditions (15:30)
- Adjusting the crop lineup (18:00)
- Taking on exotic crops and pricing (21:23)
- What chefs look for vs. what Michelin-star chefs look for (21:55)
- Appreciating realistic expectations of customers (23:41)
- The biggest challenges of urban farming in Sweden (24:43)
- Weather: the hardest part about farming (28:14)
- The hardest part about balancing farming and family life (29:22)
- Do you think you’ve figured it out at year four? (31:00)
- Expectations going into farming and the reality (31:47)
- Deciding where to focus effort on going into the fourth year of farming (34:33)
- Advantage and benefits to putting in permanent infrastructure vs. selling value-added product (37:32)
- New farm, different layout? (41:00)
- The initial anxiety when starting their venture (43:00)
- Something you’re most proud of in farming (44:30)
- How different life would be farming right now vs. working as a chef (48:30)
- Where to find Buddha Browett and Los Perros Urban Farming (49:50)
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Diego: [00:00:00] One of the base principles of marketing is have a first mover advantage. Be the first person in your industry or your location to bring a product or service to that location. What's it like to be one of the very first people in a very big location? What's it like to be one of the first urban farmers in all of your country? We�ll find out that in this episode coming up.
Welcome to the world of farming, small and farming smart. I'm your host Diego. Today's Skype takes me over to Malmo, Sweden to talk to Buddha Browett of Los Peros Urban Farming. Buddha and his partner are going into their fourth season as urban farmers, something that's very unique because they're the largest in one of the first urban farms in all of Sweden.
In this episode, we're going to hear what that's like being the first of your kind, what advantages that brings and what challenges they face because of it. We'll also hear what it's like to be growing produce in that type of region, how they're dealing with weather seasonality in season extension and Buddha will also talk about what it's like to balance life with farming, but despite all those challenges in everything that's been thrown in front of them in their path, Los Peros urban farming has made it work and they're going into their fourth year looking to be more successful than ever.
Let's jump right into it, to find out what urban farming is like over in Sweden.
Given your perspective from working in the kitchen, when you decided to start farming, how did you view restaurants and how you wanted to service restaurants? Did you design your farm or plan with the end user being the chef in mind?
Buddha Browett: [00:01:55] I think when we originally started up, it was more, we thought the restaurants have access to this, like this side of the vegetables, and they can get these more exotic things that you can't get in a supermarket.
And our original thought was to sell just to like the public so that they can have access to. it's not every supermarket you're going where you can get purple carrots or candy beets. So whatever it may be, that isn't just the standard, apples, oranges, tomatoes.
So we started rethinking. We can start doing that. Let's try and get creative and, give the public. A chance to eat something that isn't the basics. But then as time went along, we realized that we can do both. I love working in the kitchen at the same time.
More chefs will say the same. It's a love, hate relationship. And, I dunno, this was a way that I can still feel being in the kitchen, but without being in the kitchen. So now it's great fun to be able to talk to the restaurants. And now we're working much closer with just a few restaurants and we're trying to do what 50 50 with doing it, like selling to the public and selling to the restaurants.
And this year, we're really trying to work much closer with like just a few restaurants, instead of branching out and trying to sell to lots. So that way we can build a better relationship and they can be a part in okay. But grow this, so do this, or don't grow that. Or so that's where we're at now. And this other stage of the season.
Diego: [00:03:28] Yeah. Working closely with a few different restaurants, with your experience, how much room do you give them to massage the direction that you want to go with your farm?
Buddha Browett: [00:03:42] Quite a bit within reason. We're really curious, what can we grow? How can we push it? So we want to grow everything possible. I'd like to professional for it, but the climate doesn't let us, but there's always a little bit in like in the brain that sort of says maybe you could do it in like a greenhouse. You could do this. So you could, I mean some chefs have asked us, grow this and given us a list and then it's like, all right, we can do that.
But then of course, we grow everything out in the open here, so we've just got row covers and polygon. So we can't grow mangoes, but the chefs here that we work with, they know what we can grow and they're very like aware of the seasonality and how it works here.
So they're a bit realistic. And then when they ask us, if it's not realistic for us, we just say no. So there's been a few times where we've been asked, grow something. I can't think of a name off the top of my head, where we've gone for it. And then, that chef hasn't wanted that again. But then he does go to the next restaurant and you can move it.
So we're blessed with the fact that we are one of the first commercial urban times in Sweden and. what we're doing is like insanely unique. So we can move that if we need to, I think.
Diego: [00:05:05] Has there been anything a chef has suggested that wasn't on your radar and it's just worked out really well, both in terms of a product to sell and how well it can grow?
Buddha Browett: [00:05:17] Not yet, actually. A lot of the things that we grew or things that we like to eat. And that's been a really easy way to, think, okay, let's grow this, let's do this because if we like eating it, then someone else will as well. And the chef said thing like wanting different types of say like mustard greens have been a big seller.
The first year is I really like mustard greens. So we grow heaps of them, but we had a hard time moving them because no one really knew how to use them or what to do with it. Which sounds crazy when we talk about today, when that's what we sell most of, and that's one of our, our go to products and that's what we're known for.
So I guess it's a bit of, from our point of view, I would say that we've educated a few different restaurants or like people at home, okay, they use this like this, or this is how you can use it and give them those tips. And then that's become a big seller from us pushing it, but we haven't had so much from the other side yet, hopefully because we're always out to integrate new things. So hopefully that'll come soon.
Diego: [00:06:23] The one thing you mentioned there, and that I know about your farm is you're one of the first urban farms or in your knowledge, the largest commercial urban farm in Sweden. How has that uniqueness played out when it comes to selling to these chefs and restaurants in the general public, is it given you a big marketing edge?
Buddha Browett: [00:06:43] Yeah, it's, it's pretty cool. Urban farming has existed and there's been lots of like projects, Sweden Live, but this commercial side, like actually doing it as a business, like we're one of the first, so that's that in itself is crazy. And I know I've had Curtis before. Talk about be the first, because then it's news sort of thing.
So that was good, like publicity wise and there's a huge interest in it. So I mean from us, Malmo here is a really forward thinking and like green thinking city. There's been a really good like response from all directions here with what we're doing. So we're hoping to see more and the fact that we are the largest is, that's what someone told us. That's what we can say. That's just crazy. Cause it's just Sophia and I growing some vegetables. It feels a bit overwhelming.
Diego: [00:07:36] And you're doing this as a business. You talked about earlier in terms of Sweden, they've been doing things like food preservation and stuff for a long time. Seasons are short. Can you talk a little bit about the land that you're working with here? And the seasonality of that land that you have to deal with?
Buddha Browett: [00:07:55] We�re in the South of Sweden. So where, yeah, city called Malmo 300,000 people. Sweden's third biggest city, we�re a neighboring with, Copenhagen in Denmark. So there's the bridge that connects the two. and this sort of area down here in South Sweden has always been like an agricultural area. The soil here is fantastic in this region. So like all around in this area. There's a lot of growing. Most of it sadly goes to animal feed to fodder. And then a lot of what do you say we get done into vodka? And grapeseed is a huge thing here, which get turned into oil.
But then, the seasons are short in the way that we like we have long winters, but in the summer, we have a lot of rain which is nice when, I can count on my hands, like how many times we wanted last year, which is a bit crazy.
And then, but at the same time, we have really long days, the sun is up, for, from like in the summer, it's up all the time. Like it doesn't go down. So when you have that much light, you get a pretty bumper sort of crop throughout that season. So it's quite heavy when it's on, it�s on. And now we're really testing with, this year or this winter, we didn't put so much effort into it, but we tried okay, but how many things can we over winter? And how many things, like, how long can we push the season so that we know for the future, because we are still learning, we are new with this.
We're still harvesting kale. We've got carrots in the ground. We had beets, the mustard greens. So we managed to. Work out that we can push the seasons a lot longer than what we previously thought. whereas if you just go a little bit further North, the temperatures, they dropped, I'm not so good at my Fahrenheit's, but a lot below minus like below zero degrees freezing, down here, we only get like a handful of days where it actually drops below zero degrees Celsius.
I think that we were going to push the seasons even more now in this coming, like we've already started sowing seeds now. And it's the middle of February. If you had asked me that a couple of years ago, I would've said you're crazy. Like you can't plan now. So let's see what happens. It's been inspiring to listen to so many podcasts as well, like yourself and.
And all the other ones that are out there when you hear all these farmers, people like Curtis and JM Fortier who are growing in a similar climate than we are. And it's man, these guys are fast growing almost year round. And there's so many other farms doing it. Like why aren't we doing it? It just feels no, one's really doing it here so much. So I don't know. It just became the normal or something. So now we just thanks to how small the world got. We have. Feeling really inspired to, to push the seasons a lot more.
Diego: [00:10:49] Without a lot of permanent infrastructure to extend your seasons. You're at the mercy of the climate. You're growing outside, you can use more passive stuff like row cover to extend your seasons, but you just something I'm curious about, your seasons May-ish to October-ish and if you want to make a living doing farming and you have a short season. That's very different than if I wanted to try and make a living here in a 12-month season in California. So you have less time to work with.
How have you factored in if we want to make a living doing this, and we only have this amount of time to do it, like you're not going to be selling product in January. How does that play into your decision where it's, I need to support myself doing this, or that's the angle. And I also have this amount of seasonality, which is limited?
Buddha Browett: [00:11:52] I guess this is why we're one of the first, because no one else is crazy enough to do it. I guess the reason like it's terrifying and the fact that we're doing it together, Sophia and I, we�re a couple and we have a child as well. So we like really need to make this work, but we�re believing in it. And we think we can, when it's the season, like when the season finishes, so the actual growing side, we're looking into what I spoke about before, about preserving or about making products. And now having the fact that I'm a chef up my sleeves, maybe as the season gets on, maybe we can start originally we went into this saying let's grow chilis and make our own chili sauce.
So maybe that can be where like, thinking that those things can be more of our like winter projects. Were flying by the seat of our pants. We would see what happens. So the thing is how we've gone into it this year. And that's, exciting, terrifying at the same time.
Diego: [00:12:53] If you only compartmentalized your farming or your business activity to the farm season, can you make that work given the land that you have in terms of supporting everybody?
Buddha Browett: [00:13:07] I believe so. Like you said, we don't have any permanent infrastructure where we're growing, so we really don't have anything. We don't have any storage. We have a shipping container where we keep our tools and that's it. So there's no root cellar or there's no, like anything like that. We don't have electricity up there either. So we've got running like water and, and a container.
I think what we learned this year is we can push to keep more things in the ground and really like aim for that coming into autumn so that like the farm is full and basically just like a big fridge, keep everything in the ground that we can, and then cover everything with row covers, to keep it that little bit extra warm. And I think we'll be out of harvest most of the year. I think that's going to really push us.
Diego: [00:13:55] One thing that plays into this part of the conversation is pricing. So given where you're at, you're in a growing region of Sweden, but on the other hand, I'm sure a lot of produce is coming into Sweden from other regions of Europe. What are you facing when it comes to market conditions there?
Buddha Browett: [00:14:15] Pricing is probably the most difficult part of farming for us. I guess our equivalent to like the cheap things that you can get in California, we have Spain and Holland and they just have these greenhouses where they're producing crazy amounts less than nothing. And there's no way we can compete with them. But here in Sweden, there's a huge like drive and interest for organic. It's really popular here, which is brilliant. Yeah. We�re not certified organic. We, so we can't use the words organic, but we can say that we grow into organic principles using organic, and having that direct contact with whoever's buying our produce means that we can just, we explain it to them and they say, okay, we understand.
Now for us to be able to compete price wise, we sell it. Even when it, like the prices that we put on things were going off prices that, similar to organic prices that they are buying, like the restaurants would be buying. But then at the same time, we're such a small-scale boutique, a seasonal farm that's here in the city that we can charge a little bit extra. We can explain to them, like we just have an open communication with everyone basically.
And a lot of the things like they can't buy. So we can just say to them like, Hey, we think it costs about this much. Does that sound right for you? And a lot of the restaurants, like just having that open conversation with the chefs, they say, nah, that's too much. I can't do it. If you get this price, then I can continue or I can buy it for that price, but I can only buy it once. So then you sorta need to balance it out somewhere in the middle and make it work.
But thankfully we have, I guess the respect and the support from the community. Where are we having a conversation, and that's something that's huge for us like that sort of is how we get to where we are and how we can make it go round.
Diego: [00:16:12] Yeah. It's interesting to hear because I'm thinking here you have limited land, limited season, the prices have to work and be at the higher end if you're going to make a living doing this, because if they go down or if they're a low and you can't compete on volume with other farms in other countries that are producing a lot.
Have you had to adjust your crop line off based upon what you can charge? So you said, a chef might say, I can't pay that much, not going to work, or I can only do it once, but I can't do it again. When you get crops like that, do you say, let's not grow this because we can't sell it for what we need to sell it for?
Buddha Browett: [00:16:53] I guess if we actually did the math, like on how much time, energy, and all that and charged us so an hourly rate, and all that, then we'd be judging, a million crowns for, an onion sort of thing. But there's been a few things that we didn't like regrow that we just thought it as it's not worth it, like a company let's go to English, sorry, slept through it, but we. We just realized that, okay, but this product is it's not making us any money. It's more, it's so much effort. And it's we're not, when we can't get a consistent produce out of that and that's just not worth it. So we dropped a few. This is how it is as well.
When you starting this will be our fourth season now and we've dropped a whole lot of stuff that. When we started, we had big dream, the eyes of having these giant based tomatoes and all this, and then realized it's not a point that like, they take so long to mature and all this let's just skip it.
Let's just go back to having like cherry tomatoes. Cause those foster Bates to maturity and we know we can move them and you're getting the same, like income from it. So there's a few things, When you listen to, when you did the oven Sonoma series with Coda staff, and he was talking about, the 80 20 and taking it all down, like he also spoke about the fact that he had, 150 different crops for the first however many years or how crazy it was.
And then by you said, he'd got it down to l think he had it down to something ridiculous, like four, seven crops, and that's all he grew. Hopefully we can get to that stage in another couple of years. But right now, it also feels like it's really fun to have that diversity and to see what we can grow in and what likes it, like what likes the climate we're in and how it is.
I don't know. Right now we're just growing too much. And as well, the restaurant that we sell to it is like higher end restaurants that are some of them have Michelin stars and some of them are they're like some of the best restaurants in the city and they want to work with us. The best part about those is, or the worst part as well is that they want like the weight of the vegetable, the better for them. So we're like getting out there and trying to find new, strange crops, okay, this is what let's, this let's go for a place.
Diego: [00:19:12] Does that work in terms of farming and pricing? They want something exotic. Have you found that's been profitable for you to take those things on?
Buddha Browett: [00:19:22] Yes. I think, again, you just have to look like, okay, but I can't grow, it can't be something tropical because I don't live in that climate that you think like logical of how it is and where it can grow. And then, yeah, we've pushed and been able to get out some things that you're not buying anywhere else.
Diego: [00:19:39] For those ultra high-end restaurants, the Michelin starred restaurants, do they value different things than a lower ranking restaurant might have you found? Again, you're a chef here. What's your perspective? Like the real skilled chefs, the ones that run a tight chop, the ones have worked hard, got the star or stars, are they looking for different things? I'm not talking variety or exotic, but when it comes to how they want the product to look, when it comes in that type of thing?
Buddha Browett: [00:20:11] Generally speaking, they're using less of everything because they're not, if you think of like a salad bar, they're turning out, big ballad. Whereas if you like some of these restaurants they're putting like one or two leaves on a plate. So when it comes to like pricing, we've been okay, but this is how much, if you want the best leaves or there's no holes in it. So it does take a little bit more time and it ends up costing about the same amount, whereas we're not.
So were quite picky with what we get out, but we're not as high end picky as we, would be like we're really looking into it, making sure that there's, that it's as good as it can get to them, but it's also like sometimes if we speak to the chefs again, it's having that dialogue with them and we call them and say to them, today we have this, like some whatever. There's a couple of holes, it looks like this and they're like, yeah, that's cool. That's how it looks like. That's how we want it. Which is pretty cool. That's you grow it, you grow here in the city. This is that's the product we want. We want when you're growing.
Diego: [00:21:16] It's a cool attitude to have, and it's nice to know that they can work with you and not just in demand perfection, like Chris Thoreau and I were talking recently and he talked about unrealistically high expectations. Now people want stuff delivered instantly. Uber fresh, beyond realistic. And the fact that people can work with what's actually happening in the context of reality is cool to hear.
Buddha Browett: [00:21:42] It's brilliant. And then you get a respect as well, because then they can, they pass that on. So they say Oh, okay. It looks like this or this, later as a whole going up because, and then the customer, okay.
Like they. accept that and understand that as well. So it's really, we all have our food. Doesn't look like perfectly in our caravan or perfect straight, and they're not, we're humans and we grow 30 Cayman. So it's great when they can appreciate the abnormalities as well.
Diego: [00:22:13] And at this stage of your career, you're three years into it going into year four. What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Buddha Browett: [00:22:20] Yeah. We've got a lot of challenges. it's been a lot of learning, that's it? I'd say the last year is it fails if I can say that this year feels almost like it's going to be our first year in the way that you won, Sophia was studying and I was working like two full-time jobs and we had the farm. So it was pretty crazy. But it was a bit more hobby on the hobby end of things. And then year two Sophie was pregnant. So there wasn't so much physical work and there was a lot more, enjoying being pregnant year three, we had a child, that was, balancing life with wanting to be with your child and constantly, but also, needing to sell to get some income by that stage. One of us here in Sweden were blessed with a parental leave, paid parental leave. So one of us could take a paid parental leave and the other person could work that way, we could get an income and still balance farming.
And now this year, not a child has started kindergarten, so we're going to both be out at the farm together. So we're going to, it feels like this will be our first year in that regard. So that's been a challenge, like how to balance time and family.
Yourself how it is to want to be with your family as much as you can, but also, we love farming and we want to do that with her show. We can take her up there every now and then, but it's not as though it's not very productive. it's fun. So that's been one of the big challenges, one, we've got to see challenges when it comes to not having any permanent infrastructure and all those sorts of things, but also now this year we've spent yeah. Everything that we have and our savings sort of thing in seeds and covers and all these sort of. Basic everyday, like we got, a black fabric so we can put down over. So we don't, we can keep down the weights that way we just don't spend time on weights.
Cause that's just wasted time and energy and money. And we've spent where we can to make life easier. But we only have only had so much money where we probably could spend. So that's been a challenge as well. Like obviously it's easier if you go in with a bit of cash and you can afford a BCS and you can afford to a type of post transplant or a quick cut greens, harvester, any of these sort of Staters or because they save time, but they also cost money.
So we're in this weird catch 22 where. So hopefully by the end of this year, we will, have worked up enough to be able to get a few of those tools and make a left even easier. But at the moment where, the cash side of things has been a challenge, but we have made it work because we have been frugal and we have been clever with how we can best use our money and like really look at every sentence that we're spending, where it's going.
Diego: [00:25:19] What's been the hardest part over these last few years?
Buddha Browett: [00:25:22] on the phone. the weather, because it's really up and down. Like last year we had summer, all of a sudden, we had the coldest March on record, and then the first two weeks of April were the hottest, like two weeks of April that has ever happened on record. And then after that, it dropped back down to freezing again. our plants that we went from Oh, wait, we're never going to get a summer two summers here with my late middle Atlantic, wait, winter stack again. Everything's bolted. So we're always like challenged with the weather. Time management has been really hard with family and farm life, but hopefully we reached that and I'd say those are probably the hardest things. just, we love what we do. So we don't really see it as work. We don't really see it like as being that difficult more as okay, this is how it is. So let's work out, a solution to it.
Diego: [00:26:15] What's been the hardest part with balancing the farm and family life?
Buddha Browett: [00:26:20] That's always going to be a challenge because I want to be with my child over time. Now we have her in kindergarten, five hours a day for Monday to Friday. So now we're spending like five hours working.
Whereas, I guess before we never really had a set schedule. So there was always that, Oh, should we go up? Should we not? Should we and ha not having that set schedule, you always had a bit of guilt towards everyone, like guilt for not finding and then guilt for not being present in the present with your family.
So now that I'm a bit of structure and like some actual set work hours, I guess you call them. And also know that she is in kindergarten and playing and having fun and learning and, we've been blessed with the kindergarten she's in, it's like a, what do you call it? A parental cooperatives.
So it's, everyone's involved and the food's all organic and brilliant and we're really happy with where she is. So that takes such a weight off our shoulders. And to know that she's in a safe environment, I mean me, that's a fear I have from here in mama. She's Swedish, I'm Australian. So my family is a lot further South and her family's, a couple of hundred kilometers up in the North of Sweden. So we don't have that grandma, grandpa to come around and babysit. So that's where it's been like a bit difficult for us, but that's the life that we chose as well. We have a great group of friends. We�re just making it work the best we can.
Diego: [00:27:49] Do you feel like going into year four, you figured it out, and would you say that it's working at this stage?
Buddha Browett: [00:27:56] Oh, I figured it out to be good. but yeah, I think on paper, but I think it feels like, yeah, we got this and now we just need to make the women stayed off and get well. But I think so I think this is the year where we show everyone including ourselves.
Like we can make this work. As I said, from the start, like this area has been agriculture land, so people have been growing people and growing around the world forever. So it works. You just need to work out a way to make it work financially, or however else I think it's going to work. We've got this.
Diego: [00:28:32] Did you think it would take as many years as it's taken to get to where you are, or did you have any different expectations going in?
Buddha Browett: [00:28:40] I don't think he had any expectations going in. We sorted data. Like when we moved to Sweden, we moved from Sophia and I met in Barcelona, where we lived there for six years. And then we moved here in 2012.
First thing we did was get like one of these allotments. They have. Around the cities, we had a hundred square meters and from there we just went wow, we want to grow like everywhere. That's what we want to do. And then there's projects happened right place, right time.
And we jumped on board there and everything just grew like the first year we were the first two years, but we're growing on a thousand square meters. Sorry that isn't Imperial. And then now we're up to two and a half thousand square meters. So what's that 0.6 of an acre. It's growing over time. And at the moment I feel like that's a good size.
I don't really think that we need to go any bigger than that. Especially with balancing, like we have pretty heavy weed pressure where we are now. So we need to get on top of that and make it as easy as possible. And then that way we. We don't have to spend like time weeding. And I dunno, I think two and a half thousand square meters is a perfect amount for us to be able to be drawing on them, be able to make it around.
And I think it had a con any pasta, like if we hadn't had that in, you won the, I dunno where would be? I think it's grown at the perfect, Speed and all this, and, last year, Juggling having a new baby and wanting to be with our child as much as we could, but also, having to farm or wanting to farm as well.
We built a really close relationship with one restaurant in particular. And, we've built this relationship where we can, where we have this open conversation and they can come to the farm and they can see and be around them. And we can have this open dialogue. I meant like a quick message here.
Hey, sorry, I need this tomorrow is any chance I need it. in half an hour, I'll find something up the road and there's, cause there's times of time we can solve that. And I dunno, I guess we managed to build a relationship much stronger by not being having so many different customers for the last year because we simply couldn't because. We didn't have enough produce to provide.
Diego: [00:30:57] In this stage of your career where it's going well, but you still have challenges, you have weather, you have seasonality, you have weed pressure. You're growing a lot of varieties and slowly narrowing it down to where you'll finish and what customers want to try, and you also have limited cashflow, so to try and take all those things on is impossible.
How do you decide what you're going to focus your efforts on, say going into year four, what are the goals in terms of here's some struggles we've faced in the past. These are things we'd like to try and solve or make easier
Buddha Browett: [00:31:39] Things that we still are like, especially last year with not having that structure. And not having that. Okay. now we're working now and not working. And instead we felt like guilt to both sides, as I said, so not being present on either now we're trying to set, what hours, Oh, that's never gonna happen. But, I was where we can actually be at the farm when we're at home, where without a child clear.
And then when she goes to bed, sometimes we sit up and very paperwork, invoices, or things like that. But to have Times where we can say we're working out or we're not working, which, which has been huge. Other things would be like, with the weights. I'd say, there's not point in waiting like no one benefits from that.
We just, spend the time doing unnecessary tasks. So to be better and more on top of waiting as has been huge. So this year we, we spent a bit of money and got some, Black, cover where we can put over and that we're going to that way we don't have to wait around that Chili's and we don't have to, we can put it down.
So just stop that. Then that's just a whole section of unnecessary work, put the end. We also, last year we got gifts today, a polytunnel which was three years old and then falling apart and ripped in the side, the whole front ripped off at one stage. And. we sewed it up and we made it work and it was brilliant.
But this year we decided, let's invest in and we took out from our savings and we bought now he's bought a new one. So we, we're trying to work out okay, we have, where can we put a bit of money and to earn a bit of time. So that's, what if we decided that those are the big things here and then.
So as I get these floating row covers to, keep up the buds and the help with the weather and keep the rabbits away and stuff like that. So those are the big areas we've decided to aim at and the money side of it, which is, we just hope that we're going to kill it this year and everyone wants to buy our stuff. And then we won't have that problem either.
Diego: [00:33:37] Given where you're at and with your land tenure. And how much land you have. Is there any advantage to putting in pricier more permanent infrastructure or going into the off season, given your background as a chef, are you better using that time to do the value, add things like you talked about before?
I'm thinking you have six tenths of an acre. Over there. You can only grow so much in the middle of winter anyway, and it's not going to grow that much, given how dark it is, why spend any money on that permanent infrastructure when you can just grow different things over the summer and value, add them in, maybe get more bang for your buck in terms of product that you have produced and time in versus dollars out.
Buddha Browett: [00:34:33] One of the hard parts that we have is the land that we're on. we're only signing one year leases on it. And this year, actually 2018 will be our last year. So it's actually a and by the church and they have plans to extend the, to build it as a graveyard. So we won't be on this land or on now next year.
But the, the city here, really like fantastic and they love what we're doing. So they've been helping us to look for some new land, which is pretty cool. The council on your site as well. we've looked at a few spaces and the next year we've found one area that's previously being an agricultural land, which the council owns.
but for the last 10 years, they've just been growing sunflowers and green and you have that. it's, it looks pretty ideal. So it will be out moving out to there by the look of things. they're going to stop working on it this year and. And building some infrastructure there, by like a drainage.
And we've been in talks with them now last week we were down at city hall and talking to them about, what do we need and what can we do? And what's their budget. And so that's where we're at the moment, which again has been a bit of a challenge with not being able to grow perennials and stuff, because we don't know how long they're going to be there.
Is there any point? So the things so not so much as Barry describing this year, after next year, if we move and we get, at least it's, assigned for at least 10 years, then we can enter that. We also have, because we're renting rent in Atlanta because it isn't in an urban environment.
It's not classed as agricultural land. So therefore you need to get a building lessons, every single structure that gets put up that's over two meters tall or 180 centimeters tall, actually. that becomes a whole new game. There's a lot of hoops to go through with doing something new and so far that's good, but we sorta, yeah, always haven't had those sort of challenges where, we'd love to have a big glass greenhouse, but one don't know if people are gonna like to throw rocks in it, but also And so we can probably afford it, but also we don't have a permit for it. And it would be like a long process to get one for that area.
Diego: [00:36:44] Talked to a few different farmers recently have been moving their farms. Ben Hartman's one, he learned a lot on his farm over 10 odd years. So he's setting up this new one very differently. When you move on to this new land, are there things you're going to do different from the start in terms of how you lay it out?
Buddha Browett: [00:37:07] Yeah. they sound so obvious and almost embarrassing to say, but to standardize everything. so to have, we didn't have beds or we didn't have raised beds at all in the first two years. And last year, like it rains a lot here, as I said, and we have quite heavy clay soils. It becomes quite boggy.
And now this year are last year and this year we've made some raised beds and the differences is huge. Like we had one year where we didn't get out, it was so wet that we couldn't get out. We lost a whole bed of garlic, which was an expensive mistake and now we're realizing, okay. But, so when we moved now, it's standardize all the beds, have rice beds and have them all No facing the same direction, so you can move your Tufts around so that you can then just simple things like that. say we'd put a bit more effort into okay, we need to put in some hedges, cause it's quite windy and this region, so like make it so that it can put some sort of blockage that the way we were talking with, the council about maybe even.
Getting some like Berry bushes as hedges or trying to make it, having that, going into this, new it's pretty like curious to be able to have the counsel behind you as well. So hopefully that will help.
Diego: [00:38:22] Yeah. with a lot of mistakes comes experience, and if you think back to when you started, you were excited doing this, you started on like the smaller community garden plots, scale that up. You were the first one in Sweden or in your area to do this.
Did you have any nervousness around nobody else is doing this? Is there a reason why nobody else is doing this?
Buddha Browett: [00:38:49] Yeah, for sure. But like at the same time, there were a couple of other, fun, like these sort of smaller funds we're doing we're in the same area.
We were all you doing this all at the same time. So we were all terrified together and we were all excited together. And I guess that's what helped us get through. if I look now to when we started, there were maybe 10 farms and now we're down to three and out of those, like there's been members of each different ones that have dropped out or come in and it's changed a bit. But I'd say that having that neighborhood vibe and those like is right next to us that we can, sit and have a coffee with and talk and okay, but why are your potatoes growing better than mine? And they're only 10 meters away, what are you doing differently? And being able to shoot ideas off each other has been brilliant for us.
And that's what's kept us going in a huge way. And of course, the fact that we love it, but having that support of being Jewish and being able to.
Diego: [00:39:48] Having that is huge because feeling alone just makes it that much harder. And there's a lot of struggles that comes into starting anything. If you look back on just the career that you've had so far in the farming, what are you most proud of?
Buddha Browett: [00:40:03] I'd say some of the biggest things where we just, we had the mom of business awards now. Just, they got announced in November of 2017. So Florida year, 2017, quite big wallets. And, we became a finalist in that, which is crazy to think of me.
So these are big companies and that'd be gal and I know this and we will want to three finalists in this category about environmental development and sustainability. So the faculty got that recognition from. The people of the city and from the government was huge. So we had a gala night the other night and sadly we didn't win.
But the best part was that we, one of the, one of our competitors, whatever you say is one of our friends, whoever from the package free store here, where you buy everything like in loose weight and she won, which is great. So it's, it felt like. What's so cool that sort of today there, and, I would say I used to work in the store and how to open it as well.
So it was fun that she was like, it feels like we have quite a good gang here. So that was fun. That was one of, that was a huge thing for us. I say like another gigantic thing is just the fact that knowing that's the food that we're producing is ending up on so many people's plates at the end of the day.
Like that's what keeps us going. And to be able to see it as well, like people are brilliant and this whole social media world slag as much as you want, but it's. It's so brilliant. if you can see the brilliant side of it, like people, we'd get these hashtags that people comment on photos and all this sort of stuff, like how they're using our food or what they're making and how grateful they are.
And it seems so fun to be able to have that direct contact with it. The people consuming the food that you produced, but also from their side as well, wow. I got to meet the farmer who grew this carrot, like that's for both sides, it feels really rewarding. Just the fact that you�re doing it. I think that's been the biggest success. Like the fact that we're going into this, both of us is, is what makes us happy.
Diego: [00:42:15] Was there any part at the beginning where you almost didn't do it and you wouldn't be here today?
Buddha Browett: [00:42:22] There was a few times when it's okay. But yeah, when we started and we didn't have time to do that, it was like, what's it like, what's the point?
You can't do it. And then, that hurt. Oh, that was a time when, I'd sold a whole bed of mustard greens, and then you go up that morning and somehow rabbits ate through the row covers and gone through. And like a lawn mower destroyed an entire bed of the night. It was a few times. And you started failing at it. Like, why am I doing this? what's the point. In January and you're trying to dig up Jerusalem out of checks on the ground. it's minus 10 degrees. You're out. It's another, other than that, there's, we've been saying like, because the last years we haven't been able to farm together cause between being pregnant and having a child, we could only ever be one of us up there now.
So father in the last weeks has been severe and I both they're hands-on at the farm. There's not a, maybe every 10 minutes because they're like so amazing to be up here together. It's so amazing to be doing this. Like both of us to be here. Like we get so much more done, so much more productive. We're so happy. Like we're doing the thing that we love. And then, the fact that we can call it work is crazy. It's so cool.
Diego: [00:43:28] That's one part that I think a lot of people who I've talked to when it comes to farming, value the most. It is a lifestyle and all of a sense of the word, the hard, but also the good and the fact that you can work with your partner, enjoy it, have your baby when you want to around, there's a lot there and that's worth a lot at the end of the day. How different would life be for you now if you are still working as a chef?
Buddha Browett: [00:44:00] but that's the thing. If I was in the kitchen, I'd be leaving to go to work at. So o'clock in the afternoon, she finishes kindergarten two o'clock in the afternoon. I'd be getting home at maybe one. So I wouldn't see her and that's not like that's not out of it.
Like I couldn't do that. And that's the other thing it's not And then she's at Monday to Friday, but I have to work weekends. Of course they would just be completely opposite lives of how we live. And that's. I'm quite grateful. I know there's other types of shipping jobs that other ones I've had, who most of them have been, those sort of crazy hours. And I feel happy that I'm not on that side anymore just now.
Diego: [00:44:43] Yeah, right on, man. I want to thank you for coming on and sharing the story. It's inspirational. It's cool to hear people trailblazing in different parts of the world and enjoying the journey for people that want to follow along with what you're doing. You're on Instagram. Can you tell them where to find you in anywhere else that they can go to phone?
Buddha Browett: [00:45:03] Yes. Instagram at, at Los Perros urban farming or some Facebook let's pedal that and farming, and then we have less part of urban farming.com as a website, Instagram, I'd say we're most active. Send us a message. Tell us what you think.
Diego: [00:45:22] There you have it, Buddha Browett of Los Perros, urban farming. To follow everything that they're doing on their farm. Be sure to check them out on Instagram at the link below, where there's also links to their Facebook page and their website. I really want to thank Buddha for taking some time out of his schedule, time away from being a dad to do the show today and give a different perspective on what startup farming is like in a different part of the world.
From most of the people listening to the show. If you want to hear more past episodes of people that are just starting up their farm or people that have been farming for a long time, be sure to check out the show archives at paper, pot.co/podcast, or just subscribe on iTunes or Google play and you'll get access to all of the past episodes.
That's all for this one. Thanks for listening today. Next week, I'll be back with another small scale farmer making a go of it between now and then keep crushing it and stay tuned for another episode where it's all about farming, small and farming smart.
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