Funding the Farm

While I'm rarely indoors during the work day in the summer months, January finds me here at my desk just about every day.  Winter is a time of purchasing, planning, hiring, repairing, and learning.  Truth be told, my view of the farm from the window with a cup of coffee leaves me with little longing for the fields when the temps are in the single digits.  I've learned that our success relies rather heavily on this time of reflection and planning.  I met a farmer in my training that said, "Anything, anything at all, that you can think through or plan out before May is money in the bank."  The winter brain makes much better decisions that the summer brain, and it's proven true over and over. The 2015 books have been closed, expenses entered, income tallied, and the budget has been set for the coming year.  A well-planned budget is a liberating thing to the summer brain.  There's no need to sweat the cost of repairs or replacement tools if they are part of the plan.  An easy way to create a big pile of stress is to assume in your budgeting that all will be smooth sailing. Not coincidentally, it's also CSA enrollment season.  Our CSA members are our partners in production--they are making the season possible and investing in our plans in exchange for a return in fresh, seasonal vegetables come harvest time.  Each membership contributes to our needs in a very direct way. What exactly does it fund?  Well, a full share in our CSA ($650) contributes $29 to our repair and maintenance budget.  It covers a whopping $290 of our payroll expense--allowing us to pay our employees a living wage and reward good work.  Another $28 goes to production supplies: potting mix, irrigation, row cover, trellising, mulch, and all the other bits and pieces needed to grow 40 crops.  $15 goes to seeds, $17 to compost and soil amendments, and $8 to fuel: diesel for the tractors, propane for the greenhouse.  There are a dozen or so other categories that each share pitches in $1-2 to cover. Importantly, $55 of each share goes to our capital improvements.  Last year we tapped this fund to upgrade our electrical service to meet the needs of the farm.  This year we're investing in the long-term preservation of the barn.  New siding, windows and doors will (hopefully!) be in place by the time our CSA members arrive to collect their first harvest. Also importantly, over $150 of each share comes to me at the farmer.  Combined with income from other farm enterprises, this adds up to a middle income for myself.  I love to farm, and while some years may be leaner than others, it's critical that farmers aren't the lowest wage workers on their farms--and many of them are. A CSA membership does all this and more.  It's a magical thing!  Welcome back to our fabulous veteran CSA members, and if you are new to the farm--Hello!  We look forward to getting to know you the best way I know--by sharing food, watching our children play, and partnering with you in healthy, seasonal eating. Bring on the Spring! Kristen  
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