Saturday, June 1, 2013

Monthly farm report - May 2013

Ok, so this is the first of my 'farm reports' where I will describe the goings on during the month, lessons learned and financial information.

I have decided to do this report including all or most of the usually 'secret' business details so that anyone who decides to start an urban farm/market garden can learn from my mistakes and successes, and learn how slow and difficult it is to start. I know that most businesses would never disclose what I will be writing about each month for many reasons from competitors to privacy concerns but I am committed to helping people start growing food locally and contributing to their communities that I am willing to bare all. Taking some of the power from supermarkets and 'big ag' is important to me and I believe it is healthy for the community as a whole.

To start with I am going to admit that I am very embarrassed to write what I will be writing today, simply because what I have achieved in the past year has been much less than I had envisanged and will seem more of a hobby than a business.
I had thought that I would be starting to make a profit by now and be planning the move to get off government benefits (my first embarrassment) and become a tax payer rather than a tax taker. I have had to revise my plans and hope to be off benefits within the next 6 months. This will happen because I have made plans to cope with next summer by covering many of my veg beds with shadecloth to avoid the problems of last summer so my income will not be disrupted again. I can't afford to not have an income for 6 months if the summers keep being that hot and dry.

Ok, here is the next most embarrassing bit - I have made a profit of a whole $30 this month before wages - I hope to be able to make at least the start of a wage in the next three months, cross fingers. I made a total of $340. Yeah, I know, not what you would expect from a real business. But it looks like I will be able to handle more box customers than I thought so I will be putting up a couple of signs around town to find some, or else I will take some produce to the Mt Gambier market next month.

Goings on:

  • It has not been enough time since I started recording the income from individual beds to report on that.
  • Cancelled my stall at the Hamilton Farmers Market to concentrate on CSA customers. This will cut my income about $200 per month until I can pick up more box customers.
  • Got some surveys back from my customers showing that they are all happy with my boxes.
  • One new customer cancelled as he was not prepared for the variety of unusual produce in his first box
  • Have 5 box customers at the moment
  • Ordered 200m of poly pipe and some 50% shadecloth to cover as many of my beds for the summer as I can afford


Lessons learned this month:

  • I can't keep being too scared to get more box customers simply because I am afraid that I will have another bad season. Hoarding vegetables in their beds is false economy.
  • Red legged earth mite will attack older brassicas if they are stressed by caterpillars.
  • Must get a good washing bay for veg on harvest day if I am going to double my customers.
  • Will be putting up the box prices to $20 per box from september.
  • Customer surveys are very important and useful.
  • Really must put in more root crops for next summer.

Plans for next month:

  • Start on making hoops for as many beds as I can afford, as I can afford the materials.
  • Gain two more box customers
  • Finish digging all the beds in J block. Where the hose won't reach I will plant desert plants.
  • Plant more flowers around the blocks in unused spaces to attract bees and also for some extra income from selling bunches of flowers - chrisanthemums, gladioli and sunflowers (in the spring) to start with.
  • Make a little more profit than this past month.



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