Thank you over and over to everyone who helped make our part in the VABF Richmond Farm Tour weekend such a success! This of course includes those that toured our farm – we had 110 people pass through our farm over the course of the weekend! – but we also extend our thanks to our wonderful CSA members and customers that allow us to be in business, all of the people that spread the word, posters, and postcards about the event, and the amazing organizers at the VABF.
We are always struck by how many people on our guided tours share that they are visiting our farm (and other farms) because they want to start their own small farm. But we aren’t surprised by the prevalent desire – we, too, spent years dreaming and researching about how to start our farm. (And, admittedly, we are still working toward making it financially sustainable.)
The small farm dream is alluring. Raising food for oneself, one’s family, and one’s community is irresistible for some.
But it is not easy, in our opinion. Sometimes it’s not easy to get the food to grow in sufficient quantity and quality. But more often, it’s not easy to manage as a business that pays a living wage to the owners and workers. It’s different for every operation, for sure, and we can only speak to our experience. (We figure we are a moderate example – more successful than some and less successful than others.)
This is our fourth season and we have only just begun to pay ourselves the first pennies. We are not yet to a comfortable-lifestyle-for-our-growing-family stage. We share this simply because we want to make sure we aren’t contributing to a false illusion that it is easy to start and continue a business like this and be financially dependent on it. We feel like we owe this honesty to those that visit our farm while carrying hopes of starting their own operation.
Certain factors would definitely be helpful: Having family land (ie: no mortgage), starting off with substantial savings, or having passive off-farm income (ie: retirement or a trust fund) top our list. None of these apply to us, and we are close to making it work. It’s not impossible, just hard.
Most farms like ours fail. That is the brutal truth. We don’t remind ourselves of this everyday. But we feel obligated from time to time to point this fact out to our community. We don’t want to paint an overly-rosey picture of what we do. (We hear numerous comments like “Business must be really good if you are able to build this huge barn.” The truth, however, is that we are quite in debt due to construction costs but find we need the infrastructure so badly that it has become a necessary expense.) Our work is wonderful, often beautiful, frequently rewarding, but still uncertain and most definitely dominated by challenges.
The really wonderful news is that it is possible, and succeeds due to community support. We believe that our community will eventually realize the value of farms like ours to the extent that numerous farms like ours can all be in business in a small area – each of us feeding really fabulous (delicious and nutritious!) food to our neighbors. Thanks, from the bottom of our veggie-loving hearts, for appreciating the food that we work so hard to grow.
This Week’s Harvest:
Our Farm Share Bag (consisting of a farmers’ choice medley of produce, in one easy to order option), Arugula, Asian Greens (bok choy, yukina savoy, tokyo bekana), Chard, Collards, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Hearty Mix, Kale (red russion and curly), Lettuce (heads), Okra, Peppers (jalapeno, padron, sweet yellow, sweet red, lunchbox), Salad mix, Summer Squash, Tomatoes (red slicers, paste, bulk options), Turnips (sweet hakurei)…plus our Naturally Leavened Bread, Pepper Jelly, and now Salsa! (canned with our veggies at the Prince Edward Cannery).
Certified Naturally Grown Farm in search of:
~ Dorm-sized (miniature) fridge ~ Used Gas Grill ~ Used/Second-Hand piece of Kitchen Countertop ~
Recipe Suggestions: (always cataloged on our Recipe Page)
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Crispy Shallots & Walnuts
Potato, Pepper, & Chard Enchiladas with Salsa
Swiss Chard with Pancetta, Corn, & Beans
2014 Market Share CSA Members: Choose your selection through our Online Ordering to order for pick up on Saturday at our farm, at the Brandermill Green Market , or at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park.