Sustainable Small Farms Class
Saturday was the first all day Farm class. We had webinars about Whole Farm Planning, Evaluating Your Resources, Selecting Enterprises and Assessing the Market. Each webinar presentation had a farmer speak about their experiences with starting their farms. I enjoyed this part the most - they were all very inspiring. Here are the local farmers that presented from the Palouse area. If you click on the picture, it will take you to their website:
Wilson Banner Ranch
Our landmark family heritage farm has been sustainably run and diversified for over 100 years. We grow many varieties dating back to the first fruit trees in the state. We believe in using environmentally friendly, scientifically proven methods of farming.
In 2006, Skylines Farm added beef steers and then feeder pigs to the operation, caring for them using the same management practices and attention to detail that the sheep were receiving. In 2013 I retired the sheep portion of the businees and greatly expanded the grassfed beef and pastured pig operations.
Deep Roots Farm in Moscow, ID grows vegetables, fruits, and eggs using techniques that promote biodiversity on their farm. They practice an intensive planting rotation to create diversity for plant health while increasing production on a small land base. They utilize laying hens for fertility and pest control. They provide open and untouched space for beneficial insects and wild animals.
This is one of the homework assignments for the Small Farm Class:
Choose a timeframe from one, five to ten years (or more). Revisit your values if necessary. Next, develop a description of your business and personal future using some or all of the questions that follow.Or if you prefer, write a story, draw a map. Dream a little! Don’t worry about the development of specific goals or action strategies—you will be setting goals and developing business strategies in the Worksheets and chapters that follow. For now, keep your vision fairly general and, if possible, address your critical planning need in some way. Remember—have each of your planning team members develop their own personal and business vision for the future. Most importantly, ask,What will our farm or business look like in one, five or ten years?
Dreaming a Future Business Vision
In 2 years, our dream for our farm business is to start looking to purchase a property with 5-10 acres. Then, after Mark completes high school (he is currently a Freshman), we will start to purchase equipment/housing to raise free range chickens for pastured eggs. We will probably start with 100 chickens and then increase a little each year, if we continue to see demand for eggs. We will actively sell these eggs at the Farmer's Market from May-October. During the winter, we may have a drop off time/location for people to come and get eggs each week.
In addition to the eggs, we want to explore a you-pick berry farm, you-pick pumpkin patch
and you-cut Christmas tree farm. This would continue to provide some additional income
when the market is not in session. We also make and sell jams/jellies from the fruit produce that
we grow or forage for. We have sold cut sunflowers in the past at the Farmer's Market and
we are not sure that we will continue to do this once we have the chickens going.
All our products will be direct sales.
Okay...now for the bad news that was promised in the headline. The farm where we grew our sunflowers last year has been leased so a different farmer. There will be no room for us to grow our sunflowers (sad face...). So, we are not sure what we are going to do at this time. Possibly locate a new farm to grow at???