Monday, February 29, 2016

Tracking Costs

The winds are howling around the corners of the house this sunny late winter afternoon. Dark clouds are chasing each other across the sky. I'm closeted away in my office with a cup of Woman of Power tea from our friends at Bear Mountain Herbs. Weather this winter has followed a pattern of unseasonable warmth followed by cold spells. The truly frigid weather with temperatures below zero was short-lived. Except for a week or so of ice and snow, it's been an open winter.
Seeds have begun to arrive, awaiting entry into the software we use (Agsquared) for farm management. New to us is a cost-tracking feature which I am anxious to try -- mostly due to a workshop I attended at the Farming For The Future Conference (PASA) earlier this month.
 Presenter Richard Wiswall walked the group (probably numbering close to 100) through calculations to determine the cost of production for organic eggs. Needless to say, I was shocked at what the actual production costs were.

Attending that workshop opened my eyes to the fact that this farm needs to be run like a business. We can't afford to look at pricing like we have in the past where prices were determined by checking a couple of websites and then a quick trip through the supermarket.
Both Arthur and I take great pride in the work that we are doing here on the farm.  It's not unusual for us to put in 12 hour-plus days, often in the hot sun, cold winds and rain. We must get enough money for our products to make it worthwhile to continue to do this.
By taking a look at the actual production costs, we might find we have been overcharging for some vegetables and we also might discover that we have been selling food at prices that don't cover the costs of production.
And what do you get for your money? Fresh (mostly picked the day of sale), certified organic (your proof that we are following the high standards of the USDA), vegetables and fruits. We select our varieties based on the growing conditions here in northcentral Pennsylvania. Plus we grow many, many varieties to help keep diversity in the food chain.

Farmers' Market 2014
You can buy cheap produce anywhere. We grow for those who care about what they put in their bodies. And remember, for those on limited incomes, we participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program that provides coupons for Senior Citizens and WIC participants to purchase from farmers or farmers markets.

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