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