How to make your farm more profitable

Chris Blanchard

Chris Blanchard

Farmers need to make informed choices about labor management and when to invest in farm equipment. It is important to track and be able to extrapolate and weigh labor costs and capacity against hiring staff or investing in tractors or other equipment.

Having accurate data and using careful budget analysis, farmers can maximize profits and make fewer poor decisions. Chris Blanchard of Purple Pitchfork (purplepitchfork.com) shared his experience gathering accurate farm costs and production data for investment decisions at the 2014 Beginning Farmer Learning Network (BFLN) Conference held in Albany, New York. [Read more here.]

Prepare for your first farm loan & get ready for credit – Part 2

Benneth Phelps of the Carrot Project

Benneth Phelps of the Carrot Project

Beginning farmers can secure their first farm loan if they develop a plan for how the money will be spent, and how the loan will be repaid. A plan can allow a farmer to purchase equipment using a low interest cash flow loan instead of building expensive credit card debt to finance farm operations until harvests bring income.

Before visiting a lender, gather and review personal financial records and farm business documents. Correct any typos and math errors to present a strong case. Verify that your credit score is high enough. [Learn more here.]

Prepare for your first farm loan & get ready for credit – Part 1

Gary Matteson of the Farm Credit Council

Gary Matteson, Farm Credit Council

How does a beginning farmer secure their first farm loan? A farmer may wish to purchase equipment using a loan instead of taking on expensive credit card debt for cash flow until harvest brings cash. Most lenders seek similar business information to analyze when considering beginning farmer credit worthiness.

Short-term loans are used to finance seeds, fertilizers and/or other annual inputs. This can include cash to help farmers pay their farm and/or personal bills between harvests. Short-term loans are under a year and are repaid after harvest. Intermediate-term loans help farmers purchase capital equipment like tillers, tractors, coolers and have repayment terms up to seven years. Long-term loans for farmland may extend to 30 years. [Learn more here.]

Microgreens production at Farming Turtles

Owner Lauri Roberts describes her microgreens and edible flowers at Farming Turtles in Exeter, RI.

Lauri Roberts with microgreens and edible flowers at Farming Turtles

How many foods can be grown and sold in under a week? Microgreens are ready to sell 5 to 10 days after germination. Baby greens are harvested less than two weeks after germination. These greens are 1” to 3” long and come in a gorgeous array of colors.

Super Babies “are tiny living pieces of art!” says Farming Turtles CEO Lauri Roberts, and “their flavors are intense, yet delicate.” Chefs love using microgreens as tasty, colorful garnishes. They know that a just a few tiny greens sprinkled over an appetizer or dish will make a big visual impact. A little goes a long way, helping chefs justify the high cost of these greens.

“Myrtle the turtle” is the farm and family mascot. Roberts has cared for Myrtle and other turtles as long as she can remember. Roberts chose this farm name for fun and knew it would be easy to remember.

Farming Turtles’ philosophy is “Always Fresh.” Roberts has experimented and selected her favorite seed varieties and suppliers. Roberts’ loyalty to her best suppliers ensures she can deliver top quality, consistent flavor to her own customers. [Learn more here.]

Thimble Island Brewing Company Expansion

Co-owners Justin Gargano and Mike Fawcett at Thimble Island Brewing Company in Branford, CT.

Co-owners Justin Gargano & Mike Fawcett at Thimble Island Brewing Co. in Branford, CT.

In less than five years, Thimble Island Brewing Company’s operation has already expanded to four times its original space. Like many brewery founders, Justin Gargano and Mike Fawcett, started out as home brewers. In 2010, the pair founded Thimble Island Brewing Company.

Brewery co-founder, Justin Gargano credits strong marketing and self-distribution for the brewery’s success. With the help of four salespeople and a delivery truck driver, Thimble Island Brewing Company beers are on tap in over 150 bars and restaurants across central Connecticut. Their American Ale is also available in 100 Connecticut package stores. This brewery sells directly to restaurants and bars like farmers and other value added producers. Connecticut laws allow the brewery to self-distribute their beers avoiding costly distributor fees. [Read more here.]

Farm Energy Efficiency

Kip Pheil

Kip Pheil

Energy used for crops and livestock production comes in many forms: fuels, electricity and fertilizers. Energy heats water for washing crops and powers lighting for production and handling areas. Livestock, fruit and vegetable production may use energy for heating, ventilation and refrigeration. Transportation uses more energy to move inputs to farms as well as produce and livestock from farms to value added processors, markets and consumers.

Sustainable, viable farms maximize energy efficiency and minimize costs for all aspects of production. [Read more here.]

Grass-fed livestock health and pasture management

Heather Faubert, URI Cooperative Extension showing a Black Swallowwort seed pod.

Heather Faubert, URI Cooperative Extension, showing a Black Swallowwort seed pod.

A  field day for livestock producers was held at Windmist Farm in Jamestown, RI. Attendees learned about Best Management Practices for pasture and weed management as well as how to foster livestock health and minimize antibiotic use.

Speakers included Dennis Thibeault, DVM of Green Valley Vet Services, who described ways to minimize livestock antibiotic use. Katherine Petersson of URI Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science Department spoke on gastrointestinal (GIN) parasites with good pasture management. Eric Boettger of USDA NRCS Resource Conservationist spoke on pasture management and Carl Sawyer, URI Research Associate, identified pasture weeds and their management and risks to livestock. [Read more here.]