A new year, new growth, and a new retrospective look at last year’s successes, failures, and break evens. With one year of farming under my hat, it is time to focus on my strengths and work towards my goals I have set for myself in my 5-year business plan. This year for my internship on Harbin Hills Farms, I have two main objectives, fast turning crops and a single harvest cash crop. If I may paraphrase the hip-hop group OutKast, it takes flour and water to make that dough!
The reasons I chose to focus on a fast turning crop was to create a quick cash flow and be able to show a profit (hopefully) on an expense report when time comes to apply for a farm loan.
As a beginning farmer, I need to be able to generate a profit early to purchase some tools of the trade including, hand tools, irrigation supplies, packaging, tables… Being new to this industry, it is not difficult to find a way to spend your new found profit. I also want to be able to show a lender that I have the ability to pay back a loan. I can understand why a bank would be skeptical in investing in a beginning entrepreneur in an industry of very few self-made millionaires. In my business plan, I do not actually show a profit until my third year.
The product I chose for this objective are Microgreens. Simply put, microgreens are a product that are grown from seed to harvest within two weeks. Being packed full of nutrition and used in high end restaurants, they have the possibility of commanding a high price point. I am now working on my second harvest and are realizing my growing pains.
The first issue I have come across is explaining why people should spend 5 bucks for 4 ounces of a product they never heard of. A little advice, telling people that they are very nutritious and tasty is not enough. I have one week to figure the correct pitch, or our chickens might be eating like royalty again. The other learning curve is the correct packaging. The few customers I did sell to might not return because the packaging I chose was horrible for the shelf life. I am kind of embarrassed to see these customers again because I know what they experienced based on what I have seen. I have corrected this issue, but maybe at the expense of new customers.
The second objective I will be pursuing this year is a cash crop.
This is going to be the new kid on the block, Hemp, and it will be the tricky one. The main issue with this crop is that there is very little knowledge on growing, processing, and selling of this crop. After speaking with a greenhouse grower with 30 plus years of growing experience, there seems to be more ways to fail than ways to succeed. He mentioned that the expert at a conference he attended was a gentleman with one-year experience.
I am looking forward to my next blog that will go into more detail about this new crop and how I invested my first million from microgreens! Stay tuned!
by Josh Grigsby, 2019 FARM intern – Harbin Hill Farm