One of the questions I get asked a lot, especially by family, is what type of farming plan will I get into and how do I expect to make a living. It’s a tough question to answer right now because everything is still very much in the conceptual & planning stage – but I always take the bait given the opportunity to talk about my passions. As I’ve stated before being nearly debt-free is important to the success of the farm. My plan is very much based on dollars and common sense. I’ve looked hard at what income is necessary for us to make a humble living from sustainable farming. From this I’ve devised what types of products and distribution arrangements would sustain us and the farmstead. So allow me to share with you my plan and we’ll see if it all truly makes “dollars & sense” at the conclusion, at least theoretically.
20 folks to join our Start Up: A Year Round CSA
At the root of the farming plan is a 20 member year-round CSA (Community Supported Agriculture or as they are called in France, L’agriculture Paysanne, “peasant agriculture”). For as little as $40 dollars per week, our members would receive:
- One dozen eggs
- A loaf of artisan bread
- A half pound of artisan cheeses (Cow or Sheep’s milk)
- Veggies, herbs & greens during the season
- A cut of Pork every week
- A whole Chicken every month
- A Turkey every Fall (Thanksgiving)
- Plus seasonal gifts and other items that we come up with
Now grossing $800 a week may not sound like much (I’ll be totally stoked if it happens none-the-less), but after things like expenses, taxes, re-investing profits into the farmstead, etc… it will be whittled down to probably half that amount per week. It will be like making $15 an hour and working full time. Call me crazy, but I would think that any rational person would be A-OK with this, especially if this person does not have to pay rent or a mortgage, and has little to no debt. Most folks in the world need to pay some kind of “rent” just to live on the planet – so in my estimation this person would be gainfully employed in a profession he/she loves and get to be there own boss in exchange for living a simpler life and choosing to live within their mean. Not too bad, right? No. OK, there’s more.
Attend Area Farmers Markets
With a 20-week season, there are several great farmers’ markets to attend where we can sell many of the same organic foods we will be offering in the CSA. Some markets even run for several weeks in the Winter which is really helpful to make it through the year. It’s hard to judge what kinds of numbers the farmers’ markets would bring in for gross revenue, so I am very cautious in my estimations. $300 per week seems to be a safe average for attending a minimum of 3 area markets. I’ve talked to farmers in the area and some had a few $1000+ weeks when everything (weather, turnout, crops, etc…) went according to plan. Many farmers and vendors also said that you need to attend at least 3 markets to make it worth your while to recoup membership fees and other expenses. Attending Farmers’ Markets will be an important venue to focus on as an additional source of income.
The Farming Plan – A Flexible One?
This is the plan that I have so far and on paper, in Excel, it seems solid. I am always looking for people to shoot it full of holes, so please feel free. As Seth Godin states, “plans were made to be changed” when and if I decide to change them.
So we’ll see what develops in the journey.