Thinking about 2017

It is 2017 budget planning time for the farm and Blandford. This means I get to think about what we want to do next year in terms of projects on the farm and how we want to grow. It is always a little tricky making the numbers work. Most of our expenses go toward paying for labor then we have all the costs needed to make the farm work like potting soil, seeds, repairs, and everything else, however, there is sometimes money we can put toward new capital investments. I don’t always get all that I request in my budget, but I do enjoy dreaming about some cool things for the farm.

As I mentioned, labor is the most expensive part of the farm budget. It is generally around 75% of our expenses, which means every time we want to be able to add people to the farm we need to be able to generate a lot of extra income for the farm. We are also trying to get over the hurdle of being able to have another farm person be around all year. This would help me with admin and communication that often get pushed aside when farming happens. We also have discussed doing more ed programs on the farm, which could be stimulated by having a year round farm staff. So we’ve had a few ideas, but getting over the hurdle of affording that person is a challenge.

One thing that is in my dream list in the budget is more winter growing capacity. So putting up for high tunnels to grow crops year round. We’d be able to expand our winter CSA and go to the market longer. This would help generate more revenue for additional people and help us increase our presence at the farmer’s market.

I’ve also been looking into upgrading and expanding our wash station. It can be a little cramped and we often end up having a big mud pit when we are washing our produce. I am hoping to expand our cement pad, put up some more permanent roofing, and organize it to be a little more efficient.

Building a portable chicken coop is another item I’ve wanted for a while. It would be great to let chickens run through the pasture or the crop field. This way they can eat bugs and weeds. They would also fertilize the ground right where we need it rather than hauling their manure there from their coop. I also am hoping to get some more fencing and try to run the goats in the crop field as well. This does make me a little nervous with the risk of them getting out and eating vegetable, but they didn’t ever get out of their fencing this past year.

Other projects are more functional like redoing the loft in the CSA barn. While we are working on that I’ve wanted to make that space more focused on being a CSA produce pick up area rather than a storage area for all our farm needs.

As you can see we have lots of ideas. I didn’t even go into other ideas like more fruit plants like raspberries or a bigger playscape and children’s garden. We most likely won’t be able to afford or tackle all these projects, but prioritizing is what we do on the farm all the time. Everyday I have to prioritize what needs to be done with our time and resources. Plus if we cannot get it done, then there is always next year.

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