This perhaps more intense than may be truly necessary but it makes a very valid point. human labor smartly applied can produce a viable income from intensive growing methods from a small acreage. That income still depends on careful planning which is a hallmark of industrial agriculture as well. This is still not easy at all and needs to be well taught.
- Revenue: $140,000
- Customer sales breakdown:
- Staff: 2 paid employees plus the Fortiers
- 2013 Expenses: $75,000
- 2013 Profit: $65,000 (~45% profit margin)
When interviewed, JMF said that Permaculture had been one of his biggest influences. This is reflected in the way he looks at the farm as a system. To explain:
Reducing start-up costs is a good first step. Avoiding mechanization and machinery-related costs (purchase, fuel, maintenance, etc.) is another. But the most important one of all is limiting dependence on outside labor, which generally accounts for 50% of the production costs of a diversified market farm.
6. Direct selling
Their sales method is a direct exchange between producers and consumers, CSA (community supported agriculture). To summarize, the consumer buys a share in the farm’s production at the beginning of the season. In exchange, the farm commits to providing quality produce, usually harvested the previous, or even the same, day.
- Only 1.5 acres of permanent beds can bring in revenue of $140,000. At a 45% profit margin this equates to $65,000 profit.
- The goal is to grow productively in a small area and limit the use of heavy machinery and dependence on outside labor
- Cheap start-up costs, economical portable infrastructure and use of appropriate low technologies keep expenses down
- When setting up a market garden, the farm design will determine how efficiently many day-to-day chores will be carried out
- High production is achieved using a combination of biologically intensive methods of cultivation, productive growing techniques and a standardized garden layout and standardized tools
- Market gardening is as much about selling as it is about growing, having the farm close to the market is crucial
- CSA guarantees sales and simplifies production – making it easier to plan in advance and produce what customers want
- Everything is planned in detail during the off-season – things just get too complex during summer