The Value of Small…plus market 8.31.2019

We’re harvesting. We’re planting. We’re basking in these delightfully cool August mornings.

And we’re basking in our decision to stay a small farm. We deliberately purchased just a few acres to start our farm. We love it this size. We’re harvesting more each year because our soil and systems are better, but we are not expanding in acreage because we like growing on this scale. We could grow on more space here on our farm, or we could lease additional acreage somewhere. But we won’t. Because we like being a small farm.

We heard that last year Vandana Shiva pointed out that limitless growth of business is like cancer. Cancer is cells growing out of control. She calls business growth for the sake of growth a cancer. We heard that and have ruminated on it deeply.

We’re nearing our 10 year mark. We spent our first seven years growing in scope and scale very deliberately. (Oh, the soil that needed improving! Oh, the infrastructure that needed building! Oh, the customers that needed finding! Oh, the systems that needed refining!)  We had a particular size farm business as our goal, and when we reached that size we high-fived each other, danced a jig, poured a couple of glasses of wine, and then set to work trying to make things better and (dare we say) easier, but not bigger.

We grow enough vegetables to feed approximately 250 households each week. It’s not that neat and tidy of a package, but that’s our general scale, based on some sort of “average weekly vegetables per household.” We have 140 Farm Shares per week during our main season, and we have all of our lovely FarmStand, market, and grocery store customers.

We don’t know the names of all of our customers, and we can’t even match up all of our Farm Share members names and faces anymore, but we feel a connection with our members and customers that we know we would lose if we got bigger. We like the number of employees we have, we like the size of our walk in cooler (our biggest infrastructure limitation and we love its ability to not let us change our minds!), we like the size of our delivery van, and we like the number of days per week that we drive vegetables to town (just two days). We feel that if we were to grow bigger, it would be cancerous.

Our focus, instead, is on building soil and building relationships. With these priorities, we continue on a very rich path. The food tastes better coming from great soil and when enjoyed in the context of fabulous relationships!

We’re incredibly lucky to be in this community growing food, deepening our relationship with this piece of earth while also deepening our relationship with the people that eat the food we grow. It’s a beautiful life, and it wouldn’t be improved by making our farm bigger. So we’ll stay a small farm. And we’d love to know all of our members and customers by name! If we don’t yet have your face and name matched up, please help us out. We tend to need a healthy handful of times (oh geez…maybe sometimes ten!) hearing someone’s name while looking at their face, and we appreciate your effort and patience.

{These sweet staff members were kind enough to lay down in the field on request, just for the sake of a silly photo!}
It’s been a really nice season of growth here for us this year. All of our summer crops are still doing nicely (with just a couple errant disappointments…it is farming, after all!), and fall crops are growing leaps and bounds. (We are likely starting our “fall” Kale harvest tomorrow! Arugula and Hearty Greens Mix next week!) Pay us a visit to our FarmStand or our booth at the Farmers’ Market at St. Stephens. We’ll have delicious options for you, and we’ll work on remembering your name. Thank you for appreciating our small farm.

This week’s harvest includes…
Basil, Cucumbers, Eggplant (Fairy Tale and Italian round), Flowers for bouquets, Garlic, Green Beans, Jalapeno peppers that are NOT spicy, Lettuce, Okra, Onions, Shishito Peppers, Summer Squash, Sweet Peppers, Tomatoes (slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and roma/paste tomatoes), and probably Kale…plus our Breads that we bake Saturday morning…this week’s varieties are Seed Loaf, Roasted Pepper & Onion, Raisin & Cinnamon, Whole Rye, and Baguettes.

We have all these veggie beauties in our FarmStand at our farm, which is staffed on Saturday mornings from 9-12, and open and self-serve from 9a-7:30p (or dusk…whichever is earlier) daily. Plus, we’ll bring these items on Saturday to the Farmer’s Market @ St. Stephen’s – which is outside in the parking lot from 8-12.
Keep an eye on what we have available via Richmond’s only online farmers’ market: FallLineFarms.com.

AND – the amazing historian Rebecca Sauerdieck is teaching a Hearth Cooking Workshop at our farm on November 2! See details here. Her workshop is capped at 8 participants and she leads a memorable, delicious, and informative workshop about historic, open fire cooking in 17th century style. Take advantage of this rare treat!

We’ll see you at the farm and at St. Stephen’s this weekend~

Enjoy ~

Janet, Dan, & the whole Broadfork crew
Want to follow along during the week, including Farm Stand updates? Visit us on Facebook or Instagram 

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