Sold Our Home, Moved Into a Bus, and Started a Farm (FSFS208)

Introduction

What is farming start-up really like?

Today we interview Troy and Cindy Dickens of Tilth and Timber farm in MA. They are only a few months into their journey.

We discuss how they got into farming and what their challenges have been so far. What about their lifestyle changed when they dropped corporate income for farm income? And what is their vision of where they want their farm to go?

 

It’s August 2019 and you’ve farmed this last year, how do you feel things have gone vs. expectations? (2:40)

Being our first season it was hard to even know what goals to set. We’d say we hit our CSA target pretty well and we ended up doing a farmer’s market weekly on top of that. We always see where there are more improvements can be made with situations like weeding and bed prep, but overall we’re happy with where we are. It’s been a big learning curve, especially with how much we can produce per bed. We look forward to doubling our CSA membership next year.

 

What has been the biggest challenge? (5:40)

We haven’t quite found a good life balance yet! We work from dawn to dusk, and even sometimes after that. We try and take some more time in the morning, plan our day and act a little more leisurely before we start at 7:30. We are also working on figuring out where to land. We are leasing from a parent and it takes a toll since we are helping them with their farm chores as well. We also have a lack of infrastructure and need to know where to invest.

 

How do you feel about the market potential in your area? (9:30)

We are invested in getting people to consider where their food is coming from. We are considering putting in a well. We are overcoming other challenges like being without power. We are filling a water wagon up with an extremely long hose from the houses. It’s working but a challenge and we need to look a little more long term.

We are just about an hour outside of Boston. As far as markets go it can be a little slim picking out here. Our farmers market is in Plymouth which is about 40 minutes from here.

 

What is your game plan for seasonality and season extension? (12:30)

Our small 20×24 cold-frame propagation house is about ¼ mile from where we are living and we are using a wood stove to heat it, which in the middle of the night can be a real challenge. We are growing storage crops right now and use old-time root cellars that are here on the property. We will use some of the tunnels to get a bit of a head-start next spring. We also have some perennial beds like for herbs. 

We also have sheep that are raised on the property. We’ll harvest wool during the winter and have it spun locally into yarn and we also do hand-carving woodenware. They sold well during our spring markets. We hope to make more this year.

 

Before you started farming what were you doing? (19:20)

Cindy was an elementary school teacher and Troy was working in the environmental field. We had a big garden and enjoyed it a lot. Cindy was working on a local farm during the summer off teaching and really enjoyed it. Eventually, we became interested in making a radical change and converted a bus into a tiny home and explored the country. We wanted to free ourselves from debt and be flexible. We’ve been in this bus for 3 years.

We love being in the bus since we can spend our time close to each other and we have to face challenges in our relationship instead of being in a big house and always finding ourselves apart from each other. Cindy started farming full time for a few years first, but this last season Troy was able to come on the farm full-time as well.

 

Is the farm paying your way now? (30:00)

We haven’t started paying ourselves yet. We are investing most of the income back into the farm. Our personal expenses are very low. Troy has done some construction on the side and Cindy has worked during the winter some on another farm.

We’ve learned to live within our means. We think that’s what most people do, even when we made more we managed to spend it. Now we don’t have nearly as much and we’re just as happy as we always were.

 

What is your time-frame for the farm’s growth? (34:30)

We have had our goals grow somewhat organically. We’ve enjoyed working with local chefs and not as much going to markets, so we are steering more in that direction. We are realizing we are going to have our business model change slowly over time and we look forward to growing more every year. We hope to double our sales each year. We have 23 CSA members and are growing on half an acre right now. We want to make sure we don’t grow too quickly. We feel like a business delivery CSA model which we think will allow for a lot of growth. The farmer’s market has been challenging since there are 3 other much larger farms that attend and probably make double our sales. We are looking more to get into wholesale.

 

How do you differentiate yourselves at such a competitive farmer’s market? (43:00)

Cindy sets up an excellent display. We put up wooden boxes and burlap that we get compliments on all the time. We also grow more niche stuff like okra to stand out. We are also growing more heirloom varieties. People are willing to come to us to sign up for something new. We are also consistent with our brand-imagining, so it’s consistent across all of our branding. We have a lot of conversations with people to try and bring people into our tent. We are not certified organic but have a sign up that says “ask us about our practices”. Once people see our passion they value what we are doing and come back other weeks.

 

You were talking about leaving the market – why if you are making reasonable sales? (52:30)

There is a lot of travel time and it’s a long day at the market, not to mention we have to start very early in the morning to get ready. Since it’s an afternoon market we can harvest everything that day and not have to store it. We could also split our time and have just one person go to the market and the other could stay back working on the farm, but we enjoy our time together at the market and it’s our one social day of the week.

 

Have you had to change any greater picture plans, like having children, because of how much time farming takes up? (57:20)

We’re pretty easy going, and we’re just figuring it out as we go. It feels good to get a day’s work done. We have lived the lifestyle where we planned everything, had corporate jobs, bought a house, sold it and bought a bigger house, and now we’re ready to try something different. We have a lot of challenges right now with starting the farm and even though we are taking things as they come we are not looking to add more challenges right now. 

 

Are you maxed out on the land you have right now? Are you looking to hire someone else next year? (1:03:00)

We are hoping not to have to bring someone on next year. If we were to bring someone on next year they’d need to be invested in staying on long term. We could double our sales next year without doubling the space we are growing on. We have room for improvement with our growing methods such as turning beds over more quickly, interplanting more successfully, we want to grow better, not bigger. Grow more of what the market wants.

 

After making the transition to this new lifestyle do you feel like it’s lived up to expectations? (1:06:00)

Yes, and more! It’s the hardest work we’ve ever done, but the most rewarding. It’s been challenging losing crops. When you describe full-time as a starting farmer it shouldn’t be considered 40 hours a week, it should be described as every waking second of your day. Even when we go hang out with people it’s inevitably with other farmers. Thankfully we are both doing this all-consuming lifestyle together.

 

Conclusion

If you want to follow along with Cindy and Troy you can find them on Instagram @tilth_and_timber and on the web at https://www.tilthandtimber.com You can also find their journey in their converted bus on Instagram @whitewhaleskoolie.

 

 

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FSFS208_TroyCindyDickens

Diego: [00:00:00] What's farm startup really like today, I'm talking to a young couple who started their farming journey after leaving the corporate world to follow a career and a lifestyle that exhibited their values and let them be who they really wanted to be more on that journey. Coming up. Welcome to farm small farm smart.

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In today's episode, I'm talking to Troy and Cindy Dickens of tilting timber farm they're farming in Massachusetts. And I'm talking to them a few months into their farming journey in this one, we're going to find out what that journey has been like so far. One of the challenge has been, how have they navigated getting into farming?

How did they find land? What do they do when they drop their corporate income and became solely dependent on farm income? How did they have to alter their lifestyle? How did they get new customers and what are their vision for where they want their farm to go? It's a story that's inspiring. And it's one that just goes to show.

Not all farm stories are created equal and everybody has their own path. You just have to follow yours. So let's jump right into it with Cindy in Troy. So Troy and Cindy, we're recording this August 20th, 2019. It's late summer. This is your first year in the farming. How would you say it's gone thus far compared to expectations?

Cindy Dickens: [00:02:51] I would say were really kind of right where we thought we'd be. We've faced some challenges along the way, but also are growing some pretty amazing, honest, good food. And sometimes we need to take a step back, I think, and really assess how far we've come in, such a short time.

Diego: [00:03:10] That's a good point. I think a lot of people do undervalue how much work gets done in a year, half a year, you know, even a month. Do you feel like progress wise and let's say sales wise that both those meters have advanced the same amount?

Troy Dickens: [00:03:32] I would say. Yeah, for the most part, you know, being in our first season, it was tricky too. Even set goals of, you know, okay, how many CSA members do we want to have? How much it's our gross sales target.

and I would say, you know, we hit our CSA target pretty well. and also comfortably, and then we ended up doing a farmer's market weekly on top of that, which has been working out really well for us. you know, of course. There's always shortcomings and you always, you know, or you're picturing everything being ideal and you fall behind on certain things like weeding and correct and transplants and stuff. But yeah, overall, I think we've kind of, it, we're where we want it to be for the most part right now.

Cindy Dickens: [00:04:20] Yeah, we had, you know, wanted to try to set a cap on our CSA shares because we wanted to make sure that we were doing it right. And giving people, their value for their CSA and high quality produce.

And then on top of that, when we decided to do this local farmer's market, we got in touch with a couple of local restaurants that are doing some farm to table stuff. so that's been another outlet for us and. We've realized, quickly realized, you know, how much we can get out of our bed, foot space and how much, maybe more we'd want to grow up some items next year, and also maybe grow a little less of certain items.

it's all been a pretty big learning curve. as far as. Planning quantity when we're planting things out. but I think, you know, for the most part, we've been able to provide our customers with some pretty awesome food. So that feels really good. And we're projecting to next year, hopefully double our CSA numbers because we are now feeling really confident that we can serve that many families, which is pretty amazing.

Diego: [00:05:30] Yeah, given all that progress and where you're at and what's been the hardest thing and it doesn't have to be farming related. It could be, you know, adjustment lifestyle-related any of that. But when you look at where you're at now versus where you were at a year ago, what has been the hardest part of life as well?

Cindy Dickens: [00:05:49] Well, the first thing I'll say is we definitely have not quite found a good work-life balance yet. we. Are pretty much working from Dawn till dusk and even thereafter and have found ourselves, especially in, in July and like, The middle of the season meeting pretty tired and strung out and trying to find a balance on how to access.

And one of the things that we've done to try to cope with that is, take some time in the morning. So, you know, people joke about farmer noon, but. You know, we, we get up in the morning, we take our time to have breakfast and lately it's usually Troy makes breakfast and then I'll be working on what's our harvest list for the day, or, what are our goals of things that we'd like to accomplish today?

So I am still working during that time, but it's a little bit more leisurely and then we really don't hit the ball running until seven 30 or so. So, that kind of helps. We know we're going to be working. Late. So our balance is to try to kind of start off a little bit slower and, that's helped us get a grasp on some things a little bit. so as far as challenges on our lives and not necessarily farming.

Troy Dickens: [00:07:09] Yeah. Yeah. I think the other big challenge stands out to me is that, choosing where to farm, for our first season, you know, we don't own land. we have worked. For other farms the past few years, as we've learned to be good farmers, hopefully.

so we've, you know, tried to figure out, okay, well we want to start our own thing, but where are we going to do it? And, and we ended up on family land. so we're leasing. a small portion of a greater farm that's owned by my stepmother's family. and so one of the big challenges for us is our choice of location, because it's very, not a practical place to, to farm.

There's no electricity, there's no running water. It's way in the back of this farm down long dirt roads that trucks can't get down. And, you know, of course you started doing business with family, which adds a dynamic. At times, we ended up spending a lot of time helping the family farm with their scores, which we're happy to do, but you know, it can be a distraction from our business.

And, so we had to make a decision, you know, did we want to farm here with family or did we want to go do our own thing somewhere else? And ultimately we determined that being close to family was more important. but it certainly comes with its own set of challenges

Diego: [00:08:30] With those negatives, the lack of infrastructure there. Do you think that that's the long-term solution or is the longer term plan to potentially go somewhere else or really put down roots where you're at? And the other thing to think about here that we haven't touched on is the viability of the market. And if it sounds like the local CSA has worked out well, you want to double it next year.

You have some restaurants. That's good. So is. Is where you're at in that location. Good. Or is that the potential like, Hey, this is where we'll get our start. We'll look to move somewhere else locally so we can maintain that customer base. How are you thinking about,

Cindy Dickens: [00:09:13] I think we feel pretty good about where we're at. We're really focusing on trying to build some community in this area. really try to get people vested into where their food's coming from. And we've gotten more traction on that I think, than we anticipated. Which is great. And what, you know, next steps for us to try to really farm a little bit smarter and, and have a little more infrastructure and be more efficient is, you know, looking into potentially.

Drilling a well down by where we're farming and our greenhouses. as far as electricity goes, we have some electric fence fencing out there and it's all solar powered, where, you know, currently living off grid anyway. So we're pretty used to dealing with that and how to overcome some of those challenges.

The water seems to be one of the biggest challenges. And right now we have what we call a, a water wagon and it's. Just, an old hay trailer that was on the prep pretty here, that we've put some, tote tanks on and we fill it up with a extremely long hose that is run over from the houses. And, you know, it's working, but it's just not efficiently.

So starting to kind of, to brainstorm, I think, and, and how we can overcome some of those challenges, because it's really quite a beautiful. A little slice I have in here, and it's a wonderful place to farm and we just need to, you know, start looking a little more long-term. On. Okay. These are the challenges we have this year for how can we face them in the upcoming years and plan on that? Because I think no matter where you are farming, there are going to be challenges. They're just going to be different.

Diego: [00:10:58] Exactly. And that's really well said. And for people listening, what, what part of the country is listen, where in Massachusetts

Troy Dickens: [00:11:04] Southeastern Massachusetts

Diego: [00:11:06] Southeastern Massachusetts. And how would you describe your town that you're in or proximity to a large urban center.

Troy Dickens: [00:11:14] We are about just under an hour outside of Boston. but a half hour from Cape Cod. there's not really much for urban areas in between, so it's, it's kind of like a hustling and bustling area in the sense. There's like a lot of people around here.

But as far as markets go, it can be a little bit tough. our farmer's market is in Plymouth, which is about 40 minutes from here. and you know, Plymouth has a little downtown towards the area with some restaurants. One of the restaurants we sell to is right in downtown Plymouth. so despite, you know, Southeastern mass being a kind of busy area, we've got to go probably 40 minutes to an hour to get to. Decent markets as far as even restaurants or farmer's markets go.

Diego: [00:12:05] So on the new England coast, winter up there first year farming, what's your plan for dealing with seasonality? Is it? We have a goal of the farm up until this date. Then we shut it down. Use the winter to game plan. Are you going to try and do any overwintering of crops the first year? How have you tackled?

Cindy Dickens: [00:12:24] Well, this spring was quite interesting because. So our greenhouses, or I should say our small propagation houses, it's just a 20 by 24 foot, cold frame. And that's nearly a quarter mile from where we're living on the property. So we have a wood stove in there that we were using to, to heat it for our seedling propagation and.

Involved in that was getting up in the middle of the night, you know, one or two in the morning, going out, walking a half mile to stoke the fire if it had gone out, hanging out for awhile. So, the spring was, was tiring to say the least and trying to keep that managed. We did have a small. Propane heater in there, but you know, greenhouses aren't all that well insulated.

So it couldn't quite keep up when the nights got, you know, dipped down below freezing. So that was a challenge, I think, where. You know, looking to not necessarily, you know, with our current infrastructure farm year round, but we are definitely growing some storage crops right now. So we've got onions, we've got winter squash.

we've got cabbage going potatoes. we're going to be doing some winter radishes soon and in some carrots and, So where, where kind of our focus is a little bit more on growing some storage crops. And, some of the houses here on the property has some, really old, old time root styler storage that we're going to try to try to use efficiently.

but you know, our greenhouse and propagation area is so small that to really make good use of it throughout the winter would be a bit of a challenge. we also are. Are planning on doing a little bit of overwintering, but, but not that much, much. And it's only really to get that headstart on the spring season, with some greens and some, like scallions and that kind of thing.

And we've got some perennial beds established, so that's also going to help we have a perennial or bed, and we're really trying to do. Build in a lot of perennial plantings and, you know, try to keep the biodiversity going in the field and, really focus on soil health and, you know, bringing me. The biodiversity and all the pollinators and insects into the farm.

Troy Dickens: [00:14:48] but going back to your question about, winter, I guess the, are our businesses somewhat diversified in the sense where vegetables isn't, the only thing we do. the other thing we do is, my stepmother raises some sheep on the farm here. And so there's animal chores that go along with that.

Of course all winter long, but we take the fleeces from those and we have them spun at a local spinnery into yarn. So we sell, that yarn and then we also do some hand-carved wooden. Whereas we do a us. Spoons and bowls and cups. They're all made from wood off the farm here. So I keep myself pretty busy with that stuff in the wintertime.

Diego: [00:15:31] kind of like the, the hobby side of the business, like you're selling that stuff, you know, it's probably only scalable to some point, but there's a lot of fulfillment enjoyment out of that.

Troy Dickens: [00:15:39] Yeah, definitely. it's kinda funny, you know, we, we really wanted it to be. Significant portion of our business. And we went into the spring time markets with a little bit of inventory. So we were selling some spoons and stuff with our vegetables at market and was really well received. They sold well to the point where we ran out of them more than the first couple of markets. And then, you know, vegetable growing season was in full swing and.

Then we have no time to actually make more of them. So kind of all summer people have been interested in them, but we don't have any to sell. So my hope this winter is to kind of build up an inventory that can be part of our summer markets next year,

Diego: [00:16:26] you know, for farm startup was that greenhouse propagation house experience of getting up in the middle of the night to put wood in the stove. One of the first, you know, big challenges that. It was kind of like a welcome to farming. Welcome to running your own business. Here's what you got to do.

Cindy Dickens: [00:16:47] Yeah. yeah, I would say one of the first, but there have definitely been many, you know, we were. We're very familiar to having to get up in the middle of the night to stoke a fire, just not having to travel to do so.

Troy Dickens: [00:17:00] There's a big difference between crawling out of bed and your own nowhere to stoke a woodstove or in your house at 2:00 AM. And then to having a bundle up to a walk a quarter mile through the woods in the dark to stoke, went out there and then sit in the green officer 20 minutes or half hour while it gets going like that, that takes a much bigger train on you, then stoking the Homewood stove for sure.

Cindy Dickens: [00:17:22] Yeah, we definitely tried to balance it like, and alternate nights or, you know, maybe we'd stay up late one night. So one of us only had to just get up really early and, tried to balance that, but we also had some challenges in the fall too. we, you know, came to this property and it is family land and there are.

There are tools here that we can use, but a lot of them haven't been maintained or use in a long time. So even just breaking ground, we found a lot of challenges, but, but through that, we also found quite a bit of community in the area and some, you know, older seasoned farmers that reached out to help us, which was. Really something special. So I think, you know, looking, looking at the picture as a whole and what you're accomplishing at that time is really valuable.

Diego: [00:18:13] Any business is going to have these startup challenges. It's just par for the course and you face them early on in farming, but you're still going here. And we go back in time to, before you'd worked at a farm before farming was, was anything more than an idea in your head? What were you guys doing at that time?

Cindy Dickens: [00:18:32] I was, an elementary school teacher. I was working in the public school districts and a, pretty impoverished area. And. Was was really starting to get a little bit, more invested in knowing where my food came from and being able to really trust the source of my food.

And, Troy was working in the environmental field and who were both. Really working away from home every day, you know, paying for this house that we were living in, that we weren't ever really in and going separate ways each morning and kind of realized w what, what are we doing here? Like working our lives at these jobs that we're really not feeling satisfied with.

And, we really, we had a big garden at the time and we're really enjoying that. So, that summer I had off of teaching, which. You know, you never really have a summer off when you're an educator, but you know, in that time that I had that summer, I started working at a local farm and really highly enjoyed it.

So, as the school year kind of started to get back into full swing Troy one day, messaged me and said, so. Cindy, you might think I'm crazy, but you should look up school bees. And, I mean, I always wanted to do a bit of traveling. So I did a little research and we together decided that we were ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives.

So we bought an old school bus and converted it into a tiny home and sold our house. And. That has really allowed us to, to focus more on living a lifestyle that we want to live and, not have to worry so much about paying the bills and being in debt. And, yeah, I don't know, Troy, if you want to add,

Troy Dickens: [00:20:29] I mean, I guess we just, we knew that we couldn't. Do the things we wanted to do, like explore alternative lifestyles, such as farming, or I don't even know if at that point we really knew we wanted to be full-time farmers, but, we knew that with a house and a mortgage and conventional jobs that, that wasn't going to allow us to kind of move forward the way we wanted to.

so we tried to figure out, okay, well, how, how can we make this work? How can we get out from under this house and free ourselves up and get out of debt and student loans, not sort of thing. And, you know, we were familiar with the, it was crazy, but I didn't, wasn't crazy about like having to move around in this like big, heavy trailer, or it just didn't seem all that portable.

And then we stumbled upon the school bus idea, which seemed kind of crazy at the time, but. The more we thought about it, the more it made sense. You know, we knew we didn't want to be in our current situation, but we didn't really know where we wanted to go wherever we were going to live. What were you going to do for work?

And the bus is just like this ultimately flexible solution that we could drive anywhere park anywhere. so we did that. We sold our house and we moved in and we've now been in the bus full time for two and a half, almost three.

Diego: [00:21:45] How would you say living in a bus has changed or altered your relationship or has it not had any effect?

Troy Dickens: [00:21:52] Probably made it better. Almost one of the things that we used to always think about in our house was there was this feeling of separation and we had a pretty big house, like an old antique new one colonial and, had a lot of rooms and like, I'd be in the kitchen and she'd be in the living room and vice versa.

And you're just kinda like all over the place. And it was just like, Kinda diluted and now it's more concentrated, I guess. And we, we spend. You know, all of our time together, pretty much. We work together every day. And then when we were home were in the same room, I can be, you know, the way we built the buses, it's basically like a kitchen that has some seating and a bedroom and a bathroom in it.

And so I can be cooking dinner and Cindy can be planning, you know, something for the farm and we're, you know, no more than 10 feet away from each other. so I don't think it's been hard for us. We definitely get. Constant comments from bushy, like older couples would be like, Oh, what do you do when you want to get away from each other? And I'm like, I don't really have that problem. Fortunately.

Diego: [00:22:59] Yeah. It's interesting. You said that because I interviewed somebody yesterday, young farm couple, they lived in a van for a while and they, they kind of mentioned the same thing of. When you're in a house or a different location, you can go to another room to get away.

But when you are in a small space, tiny house van away is outside. And so you learn to maybe face problems that you otherwise wouldn't face or bury stuff or squash it faster. And I think, and this is me thinking, cause I'm not in this situation, but. If you're going to enter a business as, as a couple, the relationship that that business is built on has to be rock solid because life is inevitably going to throw stress in a relationship.

And then you have a startup of a business and a farm-based business, which is tough to begin with. I think that's going to exaggerate. Or amplify any cracks in that relational foundation very quickly. So having that strong relationship, however that comes about, and if it's cohabitating in a very small space is the way to build that strength. Then I think that's just an asset going to,

Cindy Dickens: [00:24:25] yeah, definitely. I mean, we've always had pretty open, strong. Communication. And, you know, we were really looking forward to living in a small space together. And then when we started farming, even something as simple as, you know, working together to try to prepare the fields this fall for cover crop, we came across challenges.

And if we weren't working together, I don't know how we could have gotten through it. And, you know, we do face some challenges sometimes. I. So, you know, we've, we started farming or focusing a little bit more on farming three, four years ago. And I was, I was able, since I was teaching at the time, you know, to work at that farm for the summer.

And then when we moved into the bus, I left my job and started farming full time. And in the winter we start started in the winter, which meant working a farmer's market, you know, selling storage crops for the most part. But. I had the opportunity to start farming while Troy was still working his, his full-time corporate gig.

And, Yeah. So I think when we look at the farm business as a whole, I have a little bit more farming background under my belt. So when we're doing crop planning or seeding or transplanting and, like the harvest schedule and all that planning stuff kind of falls on my shoulders while a lot of the infrastructure.

work falls on Troy's shoulders. And, we really both kind of have, I wouldn't say separate roles, but we have strengths in the business and, you know, really rely on each other for those.

Diego: [00:26:07] given that you were farming first, did you feel like this farming journey was a unified vision or was there one of you that. Well, it was more their thing and the other person's like, yeah. Okay. I'm into it too. Was there a, was there a leader in the vision, even though it's shared, but is there somebody who really spearheaded that?

Troy Dickens: [00:26:32] I think the vision was shared and progressed with both of us, like from the get-go. we just had to make decisions at the beginning where.

You know, we couldn't both dive into full-time farming at the same time, you know, financially it just wouldn't have worked. so Cindy was the first one to do that, which just coincided with what our jobs were and what made more sense for which one of us to do that. So, yeah, I was of course jealous those first couple of years where she got to farm full time and I had to kind of stick out the corporate gig, but we both knew that in the long run, like we had a plan or somewhat of a plan and that in pretty short order, we had hoped to both be in it together.

And, so we're, we're super excited for actually last season, we worked together full-time for another farm up in New Hampshire. Which was relatively short-lived due to some issues that that farm had. But, even that was great having that summer together and then now being in our own business here. but like Cindy said, I.

She has, you know, a couple of years more experience farming. She's worked at more farms than I have. So I'll a lot of that kind of farm planning stuff falls on her. And I have to look to her for a lot of things. Even some things that, as simple as like harvesting a crop that I've never harvested before.

Like, you know, how do I do this? How do I, how do I bunch this? How do I pick this? And I think, you know, sometimes maybe like, she'll forget that, like, I don't know everything that she knows and she'll expect me to. Kind of go take care of that stuff. And I don't always, have the skills available for that, but then, you know, like she said, there's other things that maybe I kind of have strong suits in other ways.

Diego: [00:28:22] in right now on the farm, you're both full-time and this is all of your income or is that, do you have off-farm income?

Cindy Dickens: [00:28:29] This is it. For the most part, we. don't pay ourselves anything right now. So it's really just whatever, money the farm is making is going back into the farm to try to sustain this new business, which I think is, is somewhat, common as a startup farm.

and then that first farm that I'd worked on a few years ago, is local to us now, still. So. This past winter, when we were in our planning phases for our farm, I worked with them a little bit. And that was pretty helpful to be able to run ideas by folks and get some input on things. And then even now, even though where we're pretty busy in our, you know, in the full swing of the summer season, if they need a hand with a farmer's market or they have something going on, I'm more than happy to go there and help them out and in turn that helps us out because, You know, we don't have any income coming in on the personal side of things.

So, and then this winter we're looking to, most likely, well, we are now, working a farmer's market for them, and we're not planning on really doing much for markets for the winter, so on our end. So it's really nice to have that relationship with another farm, to still be farming and, and get some personal income.

Diego: [00:29:51] So it's just enough now to cover your living expenses, which if you're living off grid out of that bus, which you already have, I'm assuming are pretty low.

Troy Dickens: [00:30:00] Totally. Yeah. Our personal expenses are very low. When we sold our house and moved into the bus, we tried to clear pretty much all of our debt and, move into a lifestyle that was not expensive.

And of course that was the whole goal was to do that, to allow us to. To be farmers. So a little, yeah, a couple hours here and there doing some odd jobs stuff helps kind of pay our personal expenses easily enough. I did do a little bit of kind of construction, carpentry work, for our friend last winter a little bit.

Diego: [00:30:37] How was that adjusting to that lifestyle shift of house to boss two incomes. To one income. And then now just farm income. Has that been more of a challenge, less of a challenge than you expect?

Troy Dickens: [00:30:58] The funny thing about income is at least for us, and I think probably a lot of people as you tend to live within your means. And, you know, as we climbed that corporate ladder after college and, you know, Started to make some decent salaries. It, no matter how much we ever made, it always seemed like you just live within your means. I mean, never got any happier either. just because we made more, you know, spent more and, you know, maybe that's not frugal.

Maybe some people are smart enough to not spend more when they start making more. But I think a lot of people just tend to live in their means and it works the same way when, you know, when you go backwards. So, now we don't really make much of anything and you just managed to live within that.

Cindy Dickens: [00:31:42] and I think. Were both pretty happy, like were doing work that we love and we feel good about it. No matter how tired we are. And I think that goes a long way. Sometimes people like to buy material things to fulfill or try to fill this void. Cause they want more of something or they, you know, getting something new, makes them happy.

And we're just really happy with where we're at. And we're not really looking for anything more than what. We do every day. So, we're never out there online shopping or hope wishing if we're wishing for anything new, it's a farm-based

Troy Dickens: [00:32:22] I kind of fill that void with, buying farm tools and still kind of get that little bit of retail therapy, I guess, too.

Cindy Dickens: [00:32:29] Or trying a new seed variety out or getting a new pair of farm shoes. You know, those are the things that. You know, kind of make us happy.

Diego: [00:32:39] Sure. And given that it's your first year, you're not paying yourselves, but you're getting the fulfillment out of it. I get that. How do you think based on your first year experience and really long-term planning that this evolves for you guys, like you, can't not pay yourselves forever.

Right. And I'm sure that's not the goal, but do you have a timeframe of. Maybe waypoints, you know, year one, we want to be here year two. We want to be here by year five. We want to be at this point,

Troy Dickens: [00:33:13] we probably should have a very structured goal like that. admittedly, I think we're a little more organic about it at the moment. We sort of had a plan for the first year what our, what our goals are. we definitely. I have some thoughts about growth over the next few years. but of course, I think like any business or farm knows each season brings is probably a lot of change as far as what you realize your goals are going to be.

So you start out with a certain set of goals, but as things progress, you realize that. Things might go in a little bit different other direction. so as our first season has sort of introduced us into doing some wholesale with some really good local restaurants. We've been liking that and we're sort of steering a little bit more in that direction.

We we'd like to do more work with some good local chefs and kind of steer away from farmer's markets as much. I don't know. I don't think that's something we had planned on, but are sort of navigating through.

Cindy Dickens: [00:34:19] Yeah. We find, you know, we're, we're like Troy said really growing the business organically.

And I think if to have too much of a structure can be limiting and, and some cause some challenges with accepting change or not, meeting certain goals and. We have been working pretty closely with a couple of chefs and are really enjoying that relationship that we're cultivating and being able to grow food for somebody who's really excited about it and going to do something interesting or unique with it has been really fun for us.

So we're looking to try to cultivate more relationships like that and, you know, have our food available to a broader spectrum of people, which is really. Not what we had foreseen as part of our business at all. So, you know, the, I think even the business structure is going to change over time. And of course we do need to start paying ourselves and each year we're looking at, you know, how did the business do what was profitable?

What was not, what do we need to change? And as we kind of start. Diving into that more and more. I think we'll have a better idea of, can the business sustain itself, can it begin to afford to pay us as employees? And, ideally, you know, we'd at least get a little bit next year and then, you know, kind of grow a little more every year and be able to make a comfortable living within our current lifestyle is really the goal.

Diego: [00:36:01] And I don't know what you're doing in sales this year, but I mean, say, I said, could you four X your sales in your market with the customer base you have available? Is that something that seems possible or realistic?

Cindy Dickens: [00:36:14] I think going four times, would be a challenge. I think we're even hoping to double our sales each year. it is only trying and I, that are working on the farm where we have, about a half acre in cultivation right now. And we have 23 CSA members currently. And as our first year we're thinking, we're, we're kind of like right where we anticipated we'd be on sales.

So I think next year, if we could double that. And be able to pay ourselves a little bit and, and reinvest more into the business and infrastructure. And then on year three, double that again, and, really want to make sure that we're taking steps and not growing too quickly as well, because I've seen, I know all too well, plenty of farms that are growing at a bigger space than they can manage and, things end up inevitably falling through the cracks.

And then that's where you have a lot of losses and even more inefficiencies. And, we want to make sure that the space we're growing on, we're doing it well and intensively, and also focusing on, soil health and not losing sight of what our main goals are as a, farm business and stewards of the land.

Diego: [00:37:38] You think that the marketplace you're operating within at least based on first year, perceptions feels competitive. Is it going to be a challenge for you guys done for CSA?

Troy Dickens: [00:37:51] I don't think it will be too much of a challenge to double our, our members.

Cindy Dickens: [00:37:58] We're also thinking, for our CSA, we could potentially try.

So we, we want to at least double our membership, which would mean we have 40 to 50 members next year, but we're also open and considering to, maybe we want to do a business drop-off and get a local business that has a vision for their employees. And, and then we would have a drop-off of say, 20 to 40 shares, which would be one account. Pack the shares drop them off. it would be just another option.

Troy Dickens: [00:38:29] As far as a business delivery, CSA model would make it pretty easy to increase our CSA sales. And I definitely think there's a lot of room in the market for that actually the, Massachusetts department of agriculture has been kind of pushing that they're putting together a list of farms that we are on, for businesses to, to seek that out for their employees, which I think is really cool.

and then as far as the other business sectors, market is definitely very competitive. There are kind of a lot of farmer's markets around here. Only a small percentage of them. Percentage of them are really good ones. And getting into them is very competitive. we were very lucky to get into the Plymouth farmer's market for our first season, because there were two farms that backed out of it.

and Cindy had a little bit of experience working with that market, when she was working for another farm. So we were able to get into that, but it's still really competitive for us when we're there. The other three farms that are there are. Triple the size of us. They each have like triple tent spots. We have one, they probably all do double the sales that we do at that market.

Cindy Dickens: [00:39:43] Yeah. So getting a customer base, there has been a little bit of a challenge. But it's also our one day off the farm. That's our big social day. Also the farm. We get to see people other than each other. Oh, there's this, there's some value in that.

And then I also think, you know, going into the wholesale side of things, I think that more restaurants are looking. To support some local food and even one of the restaurants we're currently selling to, they don't sell, they don't buy all local, but they're doing a weekend special with our produce and they seem to be recognizing the difference in quality.

When we're dropping the food off, which is really amazing. And I think more and more of our community are starting to realize the benefits of locally grown. dare I use the organic word, organic food that is grown without pesticides and, and without chemicals and, with respect for the land. And I think.

The more people that focus on that, the more where it spreads. And, I think we're kind of in a movement. I think that a lot of our, at least in our area, people are, are turning back to the earth. So I, I do think that there's room for growth. And I think that that is going to climb within the next decade

Diego: [00:41:10] at a farmer's market where you're the newbie booth. One solve versus three. How do you differentiate?

Cindy Dickens: [00:41:17] So we've been trying a lot of different things.

Troy Dickens: [00:41:19] Cindy does a really, really, really nice job of setting up the display. You know, we have these nice wooden boxes and burlap and. She just has a real knack for like this really cute, beautiful display. We constantly get comments on how gorgeous our display is because you know, the other vendors just put out plastic crates on plastic tables.

Their food kind of speaks for itself. Cause they definitely, especially two of the farms at the market grow really, really nice produce and they grow it in huge quantities compared to us anyway. so it's like, you know, piles that get high, watch it fly kind of approach. And it definitely works for them.

we don't have that option because we don't grow the kind of quantities they do. So our piles tend to be smaller. so we try to dress it up with like a. Some care in the packaging, I guess, of our display. we also grow some kind of more niche-y stuff and some of the other vendors do which people like, you know, you're not going to sell huge quantities of Oprah at a farmers. It's market in new England, but you do get a handful of people who get really excited when they find things like that.

Cindy Dickens: [00:42:28] Or even some of the, we are growing all heirloom and open pollinated varieties and, you know, trying ourselves to focus a bit on seed sovereignty. So when people come over into our booth, they're seeing.

A zoo they're seeing zucchini, but it looks different than their traditional zucchini. You know, we're still growing the dark green variety, dark star, but we're also growing costata romanesco, which is a Italian heirloom variety. And it engages people and they ask, Oh, what is this? How is it different?

And, this year we tried growing cell twos for the first time. And. And, you know, on our side just said, like, ask us about it. We'd be happy to talk about what we're growing and how to, how to cook with it. And people, you know, almost surprisingly, so a lot of people in the community were willing to try something new.

And I think that keeps people coming back to us because we have different varieties. We're growing some unique things. And then also it's. It's the marketing side of things like wearing, trying to keep everything consistent. So if you look at our website, our Instagram, our sign up market, our logo on our trailer, like everything is exactly the same.

We're using the same font. we're going for an image that is, continuous throughout. Whatever means people are, are looking for us. And then. You know, when tomato season starts, we're putting tomatoes at the front of our tent to bring people in. Because I mean, I think everybody knows heirloom tomatoes are, there's nothing like them.

They're amazing. or we've been talking, we haven't actually implemented this yet, but even talking about just like. Putting together a chalkboard easel sign to put out in the front, cause where we're in a situation where the sun is coming in the front of our T in the front of our tent too. So we can't put our tables.

Front and center. We have to be further back in the tent to keep the produce in the shade. And, that's been a challenge because you really have to rope people in, but in engaging with people and somebody walking by and talk to them, ask them a question. And that brings people in for conversation and more often than not. They see something that they're interested in and then they come back for more,

Troy Dickens: [00:44:55] having a lot of conversation with people about the food, be it the interesting varieties or our practices, or, you know, someone sees that Italian variety of zucchini and they recognize it cause they actually like had it in Italy, on a trip.

so it, it's kinda cool to be engaging with everybody and. I dunno. I, I, I imagine that the other tents that are selling a lot more produce people would just come in and get their stuff and go, and maybe there's, there's more sales, but there's less conversation. And, if we can engage those people and kind of get people coming back the following week after having those conversations with us, it's great.

Cindy Dickens: [00:45:35] Yeah. I mean, where another, you know, what could be seen as a challenge is we are not certified organic and, two of the other farms at that market are. So we have a sign up that says, like, ask us about our practices, because we're proud of how we're growing and, and people, it, it, it makes people, you know, engage in conversation.

And I would say 10 out of 10 times after we have a discussion with people about how we're growing the food, they'll buy something from us. It doesn't, we don't have to use that O word too. To get our customers to buy our produce. And, that means a lot to us because we're, we feel really good about how we're growing our food and we are, we don't really want to go grow with restrictions.

you know, we, we want to be able to make our own compost and we are doing our best to follow some. Biodynamic practices, when we can. And I think when we explain to people what that means, and they see the passion and how we feel about what we're doing, it sells the food for us. I mean, even though the bags we're using, we're using, compostable bags made out of like a wood cellulose and.

When we tell, we tell people that the bags that their salad greens are coming in are compostable all the customers that are right for us, really value that. So that we're, you know, we're setting ourselves apart from other farms in that way, too,

Diego: [00:47:04] for a first-year farmer at that market. Like what's a good weekend in sales, a good weekend were bringing in about a thousand. So you average that at the farmer's market, a thousand dollars a week, For the season, is that where you need to be? Does it need to be higher?

Cindy Dickens: [00:47:20] I mean, that's great. If we have other outlets that we're selling our food at, you know, a thousand dollars a week for 26 weeks, I mean that doesn't quite cut it.

Right. But you know, if we're doing, you know, if we have 40 CSS, which, you know, this year, we're at 23, but if we have, CSA members and we're selling wholesale as well, Then we're setting a little bit better. And I think a thousand dollars for our first a week for our first year being the newbies at the market, isn't, you know, it's, it's at the low end of where we want it to be, but it's also. nothing to take lightly because I think that kind of shows that we are already starting to establish a name for ourselves.

Troy Dickens: [00:48:07] I think there's plenty of room for growth market. Like you can sell more. all's we have to do is grow more and more buy a second tent spot, stack things higher, you know, and you're going to get a bigger sign.

Diego: [00:48:20] Are you running out now?

Cindy Dickens: [00:48:22] Yeah. Yeah.

Troy Dickens: [00:48:23] I pretty much, for the most part, I mean, we do our best to not bring our, with our scale. We can't afford to bring so much that we waste a bunch of it doesn't sell. So we're kind of like. Gaging that it's a, it's a constant struggle to figure out, okay, how much should we bring?

How much it's going to sell. We take a lot of notes and all that, but what we have to do is figure out, okay, do we want to push them market thing? Do we want to grow more next year? Do we want to get a bigger spot? We want to try and double our market sales or is market even right for us. And do we want to focus on CSA and restaurant wholesales and kind of get out of that market space?

Cindy Dickens: [00:49:01] And I think, you know, maybe our second year will be a balance. To try to keep getting our name out there and having the exposure of the market. But, I think a lot of, a lot of what we're bringing, we're interested, we're trying to balance what we bring to market. And one thing that we really hate to see at the end of market is if we do come home with food and it goes to waste because that, I mean, going to waste, it's going into our compost, which eventually is going to feed the soil again.

But, we really struggle with. Kale apparently seems the fad is over with kale. Kale does not really sell well anymore. And, and even, you know, a bunch of kale. That was out at market all day. Doesn't look good by the end of market. It's not, it's not as vibrant. And so that's not even something we'd want to give to CSA members as like an extra that week, because we want them to be getting the highest quality food.

Troy Dickens: [00:49:53] have a CSA pickup the day after market, but our focus on quality really wouldn't jive with okay. Taking our market drags and giving it to CSA members the next day. Right.

Diego: [00:50:04] I wouldn't beat yourself up too much over that. I think any new business, when you go into sales, like some products in some markets, they're just duds. Like it just doesn't work. And it is going to take time to figure that out. You don't have a thousand dollars. On a good week. And that means maybe there's some bad weeks in there too. You're you're thinking, Hey, do we want to expand the market or not? I like, I look at that as, okay. That's decent for a veggie farm.

It's not 200 bucks. What. What is it about the market that you're even considering like, nah, I don't know that we want to expand it.

Troy Dickens: [00:50:39] Well, you know, it's funny it's I guess it's all relative because you could totally go to the local market in our County here and you would only sell probably a couple hundred bucks for this stuff.

And we would actually much prefer to be at a closer market in our hometown. but. When you, when we talk about like the Plymouth market that we're at, it's just sort of like a different relative scale. And we know that the other virtual farmers they're making double, you know, what we make, and maybe that's not like a great way to look at it.

and we kind of only know that because. I mean, we can see the difference in the amount of customers at their booths, but Cindy's also worked for other farmers there and she knows like, you know, what a good day looks like for another farm there. So, you know, it's sorta like, the difference of doing a small town market versus like going into a city to do a market.

and it is 40, 45 minutes away. It's a long day. And, You know, we, we do kind of bring a lot of food, you know, at least for our scale. so we're just trying to weigh whether or not UK is that thousand dollars and it's not always a thousand dollars, but if it was a thousand dollars, you know, is that worth everything that went into bringing all that food to that market that day?

Cindy Dickens: [00:51:54] Yeah. So we start pretty early in the morning. We do our harvest the same day as the market, because we're lucky enough that the market is an afternoon market. So there's no interim storage, infrastructure that we need. We harvest, we wash it, we pack it into coolers and we hustle and go and we get to market.

We set up and it's the freshest food you could possibly get. we do try to keep track, like Troy said, I actually have. A notebook that if I ever lost it, I think I would be in tears. we, I write down the harvest list and the notebook, which, you know, maybe kind of old-school handwriting lists and maybe it's not super practical, but for us it works.

It gives me an opportunity as a new farmer to think about what we have, what's growing. it's, it's a new crop ready for harvest that day. how much of it are we going to harvest? And then I can just flip the page and look back from the last week and the week before and look at trends and all right.

So Kale's not really selling great. We're not going to bring two dozen bunches of kale then. And then, you know, we saved time harvesting. We save time. we, we don't lose product that way. we also. Doesn't always work. Sometimes we will sell out a kale and you can't quite always gauge or guests what the customer is going to be doing.

But, you know, that's one way that we are able to keep our records and it seems to be working really well for us. And I think next, you know, this winter and next year when we're planning. Looking back at those market sales and determining how much we want to grow with items is going to be extremely valuable.

Troy Dickens: [00:53:35] The other option for market like that is more of a divide and conquer approach. Right now we both go to the market and a lot of the days we're like, why are we both here? Maybe like one person should be here and another person should be at the farm working. But we enjoyed our time there together. Like we said, it's our one social day. We get to hang out together and get a, you know, get some nice food from one of the vendors there and get a coffee and socialize with our customers. And, but we're just trying to figure it out.

Diego: [00:54:03] Sure. For sure. Business is burned stuff out and it, you just don't know how. It's going to work out and you kind of have expectations of where you want to go and what you think. And then reality comes into play. And some of it's good and some of it's bad and you do have flow, but I think there's, there's always that vision of here's where we want to go with things. You have your ideology building soil, the biodiversity side of things, and you probably want to grow the business to a certain size so that that's pulling you.

But the route to get there is, is serpentine. I, you know, and one thing I'm thinking here, you guys, couple, I don't know if you want to have kids, but thinking longer term has the farm startup affected like longer term life planning given the amount of time. I mean, that's the biggest resource, right? It's consuming. Have you had to change plans or approach where you guys want to go in the greater picture? Because of that,

Cindy Dickens: [00:55:07] I think that were pretty easy going and really just living day to day. And I know it might sound crazy to not have a bigger plan were 34 years old. and I think our first concern was, Oh, if we wait to start farming our bodies, aren't going to allow us to be first-year farmers, you know, like just the physicality and the demand of the workload.

As a farmer is challenging. And that was our first thought was we, we gotta get into this and we have to do it. And it feels good. Our bodies are tired, but, at the end of a hard day's work, you feel like you've accomplished something and you have something to show for it as far as like on the personal side of things.

And, I mean, we love living in the bus, but it also has challenges. We don't have a good. temperature controlled space or well insulated space. The bus actually we've come to find out after those long winter nights is very similar to a greenhouse in the greenhouse and in the bus is not incredibly different, right?

And even during a hot summer day, you know, the buses parked in the sun in a field to try to get solar gain for our. Electricity and we're realizing, yeah, it acts a lot like a greenhouse would, that being said, I think, yeah, we're just going with the flow. I mean, we're both would probably like to have kids at some point, but. And we could probably manage a baby in the bus, for a little bit. And people do.

Troy Dickens: [00:56:51] We have friends who live in school buses that have children. It works to a certain point, you know, now. and also I think part of our, you know, we're not super drawn drawn to this life planning thing because we kind of did that.

You know, got the t-shirt kind of thing. We know, I went to college, got careers, bought a house, sold, it, bought a bigger, more expensive houses. We got more, you know, new jobs and we've kind of done that. And now we're just kinda like going back and simplifying and kind of living a little more in the moment.

Diego: [00:57:26] Yeah. Unwinding from that, I think. And I've been there, but I can just tell you his advice of having three kids and trying to start a business. If that's something you want to do or anybody who's listening wants to do get the business stable and running before you do that, or if that's a plan like that is a, it's like a, Hey, we want to have kids then like, that's the motivator to get the business up so you can get an employee because yes, you can ha you can have a baby around and run a business.

But it's not the same for anybody out there, despite what all these like farmers holding their kids in the field, that's just stage BS. Like it doesn't work like that.

Cindy Dickens: [00:58:12] Right. It's an added stress. And I mean, we are, we're already stretched so thin. We, so, as we mentioned were farming on family land, but what comes along with that is we're helping doing, farm chores for the greater farm here, which.

Like Troy said, we're more than happy to do, but we ended up recently tracking our time for that because we needed to focus on where are we spending the majority of our time each day and we're trying to run a business and we need to make sure that we're focused on our business, you know? And I think if we were going to add a child or a family to that, it's just.

Even more, even more of a challenge and everything looks great and hunky Dory on social media, but when it comes down to it, how, how are, new farmers really dealing with starting a family and having a farm and, All the challenges that come along with it. And I, I think, you know, you you're able to take things, take things as they come, I guess, but, We're already feeling the weight of a lot of challenges.

So definitely don't, aren't really looking to add more to that right now.

Diego: [00:59:27] No, you definitely do adapt, but then it also just comes with scaling back. Like eventually at some point, like you just say, my Saturdays here, something has to give and, and that's everybody assuming they have, you know, the perfect angelic child and that's just, I don't want to be harsh.

That's just not the reality. Some kids are just. Difficult and they require more time, more attention. And it's just the way it is. And a lot of people, I don't think, talk about that stuff that it, that it can be hard. So that that's just my 2 cents in there. And thinking ahead to, I mean, even next year, like you guys are looking to double the CSA, potentially scale up the restaurants, potentially scale up the market.

When, when you look at on being on half an acre now, I mean, does that mean to, to scale all that up more land has to go in to production. And can you guys, as two of you manage more land or are you already maxed out as is, and do you have to try and find some other labor to just produce more on more land?

Cindy Dickens: [01:00:32] We're really hoping to not have to hire another person because along with that comes like time managing a person and time training a person and yeah. if we were going to do that, it'd have to be somebody that was really invested in what we were doing and hopefully staying a little more long-term but doubling our, our projected sales and CSA and, selling to restaurants also doesn't mean necessarily doubling where we're, what we're growing on, because you know, as first-year farmers, there's.

Definitely things that we need to change in the, in the next year. And we can do things better. We can do things more efficiently. We can turn beds over quicker. we can practice more with, Nope, inter planning and intensive planting and just really maximizing our bed space so that it's more productive.

We tried a lot of inter planting this year. When we planted leaks in between our carrots and in one fields that worked out great in the other fields, the timing wasn't quite right. And the leaks got swallowed by the carrots. And, you know, they're still coming back now, but they're small. So I think learning what works best and getting the biggest bang for the space is. Is something that will help us produce more,

Troy Dickens: [01:01:54] not bigger, but better, I guess, would be our goal. You know? we, I mean, we're growing on about a half an acre, probably right now we have the option to probably expand that to about a full acre of bed space. and that would be the max that I think we would ever want to grow on.

And we also, you know, we have a small flock of layer hens or raising some turkeys for Thanksgiving. So we like using a portion of the. Land for that. so I think our intent for scale is to never really get any bigger from a. Footprint standpoint, just get more productive and better at it

Diego: [01:02:29] and decrease ways, systematize what you have optimize, what you have, you know, hone in on what the market really wants in terms of crops, which probably means, you know, some crops go by the wayside.

Maybe it's kale, it's not a fad anymore and just get better at growing the thing. So maybe even that, you know, yields go up on the same bed. Your timing is more spot on those types of things. So that will be all part of this farming journey. And if you look back at where you are now versus what you thought not farming would be like, but what you thought your life would be like farming.

So you work in the corporate gig and think like, you know, when an order, our food comes from, we want to get out of this corporate thing. We just want a little more adventure in our life. It sounded like you were really structured and that was starting to kind of. Constrain you too much. And now you are in this more organic lifestyle.

Has it lived up to expectations? Is it everything you thought it would be and more, I mean, it's probably the hardest work that I've ever done. yet the most rewarding.

Cindy Dickens: [01:03:38] Yeah, I think that's pretty well said. I even having worked on other farms, farming for yourself is even more challenging and.

Exhausting and the being responsible for everything for seeding and transplanting and getting, being, and being okay with losing crops. You know, that has been a challenge for me. We'll seed stuff in the greenhouse. You have all the time in the wild, not all the time in the world to see things in the spring, but definitely more time.

And then. Sometimes it doesn't all make it into the ground, especially being our first year. And we're adding a few inches of compost to each bed before we get to plant into it. And that means the beds have to be prepped to be able to transplant into them. And they're not always ready and we don't always have the time to do that.

And we kind of joke that. We ended up watering seedling, trays as pets, because they're never going to get into the ground there. The plants are all leggy and stressed and I just can't seem to let go sometimes. so even just something as simple as all right, go throw that in the compost would save us time in the long run.

Troy Dickens: [01:04:52] And, I think when you're, I think the term full time, when you, when you talk about, running your own farm business full time does not mean 40 hours a week. It means. Every waking second of your life is full time. You know, even if you're maybe actually get a few minutes off the farm, it's almost always farm related.

It feels like, or something on the mind about farm stuff. Or when we hang out with friends, it tends to be other farmers and we talk shop local time and just kind of live in breathe. You know what we're doing,

Cindy Dickens: [01:05:24] or if we ever have an opportunity to go out to eat. Inevitably at a restaurant that we're selling food to which, because like, that's the food that we want to eat anyway. Right. And to have somebody prepare it for us is amazing.

Diego: [01:05:40] Assuming lifestyle. I mean, in a good way, like it, it's what you do all the time. And the good thing on this and where like the danger isn't is it's both of you are consumed. It's not like one of you is consumed and the other one's like, what about me?

And I think that is a key to couples doing this. Yes. As you have to realize where the relationship is, where each of you are and make sure that that is jiving, then you can both be all in. You don't have kids. You don't have to worry about that. You have each other and you're doing it together. You can dive into it together, but. For people that don't have that situation. and I haven't always had that situation. It's like, that's where you gotta walk a little more carefully, but for you guys, I mean, it's working.

Cindy Dickens: [01:06:31] Yeah. I think, you know, respecting each other goes a long way and, whether or not it's in the farm world or in the personal life, you know, we're both working really hard and you know, one task may take one person a little bit longer than the other person, but.

Another task. It could be the opposite. And, even just as simple as alternating jobs, like cooking breakfast while I'm doing the farm work or, yeah, I think just working together and respecting each other's roles and in different areas. As what makes it, so that at works,

Diego: [01:07:07] I love the journey that you guys are on. I love your story. You're making the best of it for people that want to follow along with life in the bus life, on the farm, where are the places that they can go to do that?

Troy Dickens: [01:07:18] We're on an Instagram for the farm is a tilt in timber and we have a website, telephone number.com. And then we also have a Instagram account that was from our bus conversion and our journey where we drove across the country and took a lot of pictures and cool places. And that's a white whale schooling

Diego: [01:07:42] there. You have it. Cindy and Troy of Tilton, timber. If you want to follow along with everything that they're doing and give them a shout out on this episode, you can do so on Instagram link below in the description for this episode, if you want to follow along with me and find out everything that I have going on or leave me comments about this episode, hit me up on Instagram at Diego footer.

And if you want to check out some of the tools that we have to offer at paper PATCO from the brand new drop seeder to brand new nursery flats, visit us. At paper, pot.co that's all for this one. Thanks for listening until next time. Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.

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