Q&A

DEAR NEW FARM:

I am going on my fourth year as a market-gardener/farmer. I rent 12-1/2 acres about 13 miles from where I live. I'm organic and have 36 free-range birds just for eggs and their other byproduct (manure). In the summer, they keep my pathways in my two acre garden nicely mowed. I also have a small greenhouse where I grow salad greens all winter. So in the winter I have eggs and salad for sale. We grew some hay on the remainder of the land last summer and it just is too cheap around here to make anything on trying to sell it. Can you suggest a crop for this piece of land? I companion crop the garden and sell all sorts of produce in the summer at a local farmers' market. Again, my big sellers are the eggs and the salad mix. I really need some help getting started, especially financial healp. Are there grants out there that you know of for people trying to live sustainably and use no pesticides, herbicides or poisons of any kind and would like to be a local teaching facility to others in the throes of doing this?

Thanks,
Lynn Seigfreid
Ohio

 

DEAR LYNN:

Certified organic hay is not cheap and is in high demand. Check out Dairy demand pushes market for organic hay in Upper Midwest, Northeast and Eastern farmers scramble to stitch organic infrastructure for hay supply for more on the state of organic hay production and marketing.

There are certainly a whole host of high-value crops you could grow. You need to research your markets—farmers markets, restaurants, local grocers—see what there's a demand for and grow it. What complements your salad greens or what other farmers are bringing to the market where you sell? Could you grow more specialty micro-greens and cater to higher-end restaurants?

And if you are not already familiar with them, check out these groups in your area:

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association: www.oeffa.org
Innovative Farmers of Ohio: www.ifoh.org

We’ve also written a recent story on producer grants available to small and medium-sized farmers called Money for nothing? There's no such thing, so check that out, too. And we are planning stories on Somerton Tank Farm (www.somertontanksfarm.org) and Quiet Creek Herb Farm (www.quietcreekherbfarm.com), two farms that have a nonprofit educational component as part of their operation, so stay tuned for more farmer-to-farmer ideas!

NF

 

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