Thursday July 15, 2010
Have land you know you can farm for as long as you're planning on being in business: you have more of an incentive to take care of it. Begin by taking the results of your soil test(s) to heart and start cover cropping and improving your soil with organic amendments for at least a season. Understand the challenges and limitations of your soil before you start growing crops on it. In Florida, we have so low organic matter, that getting nutrients to stay in the soil is the biggest soil-related struggle, with nematodes(1) close behind. In Massachusetts, however, soil particle size is small and organic matter is high so pretty much everything that goes on, stays on; but you here in Mass have lots and lots of rocks that are difficult to till and otherwise bothersome to farmers.
You should start only with the land you can take care of with the equipment and hands you have. Know how you're going to sell your produce and to whom. Know what they want and how to grow it and how to get it to them the way they want it. Then start.
There's no use in overextending yourself or your staff in trying to do otherwise for any reason.
Also, your farm needs to have a draw: you should have available both the 'bread and butter' (maybe kale, potatoes, and green beans) and the impulse buy (honey, nuts, and sugar snap peas). Grow what sells and market it in the way that it will sell. Farming is definitely about quantity (low margins, yes) but if you have lax quality standards then it doesn't matter how much you have.
(1) related to flatworms and heartworms that afflict your domestic animals, also love to destroy the roots of plants in sandy soil