“During 2013, I took on a partnership with a friend and merged our farms. He had been farming for one year. Together we farmed 2.5 acres and grew around 90 types of vegetables.
We had one site (that was previously his) at 2 acres, and the other 0.5 acre consisted of all my urban plots, with one peri-urban plot across the street from his two-acre site.
This was definitely the biggest year as far as sales went. We grossed around $130,000, but our expenses grew so high that it was hard to make a profit in the end. At the height of the season, we had around eight people working nearly full time, and the farm became very top heavy: too much management, too many crops and too much land. Our partnership ended after that season, and we went our separate ways.
In the end, it worked out better for both of us. I reiterate the lesson I should have really learned after my first year: Don’t take on too much! Start small, and grow slowly!” Curtis Stone in The Urban Farmer book
NOTES FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Annuals are a lot of work:
- Bigger land means more labor is needed to manage it.
- Hiring employees comes with a lot of read tape, cost, and regulator compliance
- Scaling requires expanding markets which means a lot more time into delivery, sales, marketing, possibly more managers to market:
- Many of those things might not have the same payoff per hour worked compared to a farm of a small size
- Might require more diversity of products and customers. Might have to become less specialized.
- Instead of filling all of the land, keep the same product, but do a farm and fallow rotation on blocks of land
- If you aren’t as busy keeping up you have more time to work on the business, not in the business
- More land requires more crops which requires less focus on more crops cause you need to grow more.
- What do you want to get out of life?
- Cater your operation to that
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