As gardeners, I know many of you out there occasionally start to wonder if you should start selling your crops and growing into a full-scale farm. It can be a highly rewarding life, but not an easy one. Through working with beginning flower farmers across the country, I’ve learned that people often don’t know quite what to expect from a farming business. Let me share with you the 5 most frequent myths I hear when it comes to starting a farm.
Myth # 1: You Have To Grow Everything
With the rise of CSA and diverse market gardens in the past 20 years, it would be easy to think that most farms grow a huge variety of crops. But what we’ve seen more recently is that many successful farms are in fact downsizing their crop lists to be able to specialize. Why grow many things poorly when you can grow a few things really well?
Myth # 2: You Have To Sell To Everyone
Farmers markets! Florists! Wholesalers! Restaurants! There are so many options out there when it comes to figuring out where to sell your crops. While it’s never advisable to put all your eggs in one basket, choosing one or two main target customer types will save you years of frustration.
Myth # 3: You Have To Price Your Crops To Be Competitive With Others
When you’re a little farm, your cost of production is never going to be as low as that of larger farms. So, basing your pricing on theirs isn’t the way to go. While no one is going to buy vegetables or flowers for 5x the cost of others on the market, you shouldn’t be afraid to price high and stand behind the value of your products.
Myth # 4: You Should Grow What You Love
You should grow what you can sell. And hopefully, somewhere within that mix, you can learn to love the process and the products too. You can always keep a home garden with all your favorite crops.
Myth # 5: Just Plant The Stuff, THEN Figure Out Who To Sell It to
Can you imagine a restaurant that planned a menu based on hunches, and then suddenly opened one day with no marketing or market research? I sure can’t. The most successful farms can proudly point to a field and proclaim “that’s all pre-sold”. Aim to have a destination in mind for everything you put in the ground. You’ll go far.