Farm Marketing Solutions inspires and educates the next generation of farmers. Host John Suscovich has been teaching homesteaders and farmers around the world for nearly a decade with the hope of making the planet a better place.
My friend Dave Shields of Pastured Life Farm in North Central Florida and his wife Ginger have been raising animals on pasture and direct marketing them to customers for years. It just so happens the farming and sales model they set up is perfectly suited to serving their community in a time of need.
On today’s farm podcast Dave shares how they got started, why they set up their farm the way they did, and how they have been able to provide healthy food to people while adhering to safety guidelines.
Professional farming advice from pasture-based producers all over the country.
I interviewed two dozen American Pastured Poultry Producers Association members from all over the country to get their advice on starting and growing a farm business.
It can feel like the to do list gets longer before it gets shorter, that at times the world is out to get you, or things aren’t going your way. It is ok to want to quit, but what defines us as people is how we react to being in these situations. Work toward a better life, hang in there, and tomorrow will be brighter.
Think of the reason you do what you do. Whether you are farming or thinking about starting a farm, why are you doing this? The key to keeping a business going, and creating a lasting lifestyle is to find what drives you, and let it keep driving you forward.
They told us it can’t be done. They told us you cannot make money farming. They told us you can’t raise sheep without a heavy parasite load. They said you can’t have 0% mortality in the brooder. They said that you have to farm this way or that.
There is a lot to farming that will keep you awake at night. Is the brooder closed, are all the birds in, are the predators out, is the greenhouse warm enough, did you remember to check this or that?
Then there’s all the life stuff that keeps you up at night. On today’s episode of the Growing Farms Podcast Troy and I cover three areas of concern that are universal to most people.
With all that advice and information floating around how do you tell what is good and what is not? With a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, what’s the best advice? That is what Troy and I tried to capture with today’s farm podcast episode. The best piece of advice we have ever gotten.
The most common question we get here at Farm Marketing Solutions is “how do I start a farm?”. That question comes from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. Perhaps the path to success does not start in the field...
Working to find a balance that works for you between farm life, home life, and your personal life is the ultimate goal of sustainability. You want to be a member of your community, a member of your family, and at the same time take some time for yourself. In this episode Troy & John discuss their efforts at a balanced sustainable life.
It is a pleasure to bring back the Growing Farms Podcast with my good friend and mentor Troy Bishopp. In today’s episode we tackle the topic of getting into agriculture as a hobby or profession. What draws people back to the land? Once they are there what keeps them working when things get difficult?
It’s a cliche as this point that “farming is hard”. Yeah, we know. Anyone that has tried to work the land knows full well how ruthless Mother Nature can be and how unforgiving the farm can seem at times.
Sometimes it's good to let loose and talk the real talk with a good friend.
With each new farm season there are adaptations based on what you have learned from previous years as well as adapting to what your goals are for the coming year. We are making some big changes on our farm this year and I am really happy to be able to share them with you through the Growing Farms Podcast.
Raising pigs has to be one of the most fun things that I do on farm. I truly enjoy almost every part of it. I mean, don't get me wrong, they could smell a little better every once in a while but who can turn their noses up at their floppy ears, curly tails, and curiously happy demeanor?
No matter what you've done before you got into farming, it applies. It all applies!!! Granted some of us are going to get into farming full time and run our own farms and others are going to be happy with a backyard garden. The important thing here is that we're all willing to get our hands dirty.
I take a small amount of pride in that I've worked hard over the years to make my life interesting. It sounds a little egotistical perhaps, but I'm alright with that, because it's been fun.
I have been in love with the idea of more farms appearing in urban settings. That is how we bring food to the masses and help wrangle that ugly beast called food security. Clever uses of otherwise untapped resources.
On today's farm podcast episode we visit one of those urban farms to see how it all fits together.
In this podcast episode I talk about what my plans are for the farm this year and why they are that way. Then I go over what's happening on Farm Marketing Solutions and content for the year and I ask you for help.
There was a problem that I now had a farm stand but no one was showing up. How do you get people on your farm without breaking your marketing budget? The answer: Farm Crawl
A farm crawl is a one day event where multiple farms in the same area open their doors, hold tours, and cross-market each other to the benefit of all. Customers travel from farm to farm to see what the farms have to offer, get tours, meet the farmers where they work, and become more connected to their food.
I know we have all learned a lot this year. There have been good times, there have been bad times, and everything in between. This farm podcast episode focuses on five lessons learned by one of the Farm Finance Challenge participants Jonathan Woodford of Sugarwood Acres.
I am super pleased to bring Curtis Stone back on the show for another episode to talk all about managing the farm, employees, and growing more farmers for the future. We cover the nitty-gritty of harvesting information on farm and what to do with that information once you have it.
What separates professionals from amateurs is experience. There’s no getting around experience. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, take all the classes, but until you try and do whatever it is you’re trying to do it’s all just theory. What I cannot help be be fixated on these days is tracking that experience, documenting it, so it is easier to learn from past experiences and work toward my holistic goals on farm.
Hello everyone! The podcast was on hiatus as we deal with the technical issues of a 3 year old website and podcast. Technologies change and I was unable to farm and keep on top of the changing times. But that’s OK! Because the Growing Farms Podcast is back. Back with the every other week schedule. Scott has a new day-job which is monopolizing his time so Farm Fantasy Camp is on hiatus until further notice. In today’s show I go over what I’ve been up to on farm and with Farm Marketing Solutions as well
Topics covered in this farm podcast include:
Mistakes made when starting a hop yard
What hops are
How hops are grown
How many plants can you fit per acre for production
Sometimes there’s just no choice but to spray
Insight into the Craft Beer Industry’s effect on hop production
Where do you find good farming information
Have you considered diversifying with a commercial kitchen?
Diversifying your farms’ offerings is always a good idea. Many of the guests who have been on this podcast have talked about it, and it is a large part of my business model. Have you considered diversifying with a commercial kitchen?
On today’s episode Laura McKinney of Riverbank Farm talks about how her kitchen got started. She also talks about life on farm, how she got started in AG, and where she sees it all going.
Micromanagement and preventive measures to extend the life of possessions
Having “your name on something” resulting in high standards
Soylent follow-up: John had Soylent, Scott might not rebuy, case closed
Mini excavators versus regular ones
We’re not yet very good at segues
John’s still post-meltdown
Recycling doesn’t matter? Sustainable farming doesn’t matter?
It’s too common for people within the permaculture and sustainability movement to do work that they care about, but scrape by financially.
And the reality of that is, at the end of the day that type of lifestyle isn’t sustainable – the values are there, but the economics are not.
Can you make a living from a career that aligns with your values?
We believe you can.
The Growing Farms Podcast was started to share my journey into agriculture. Like most journeys this one has been made more enjoyable by sharing it with others. One of the people I share my agriculture experiences with is my good friend and business partner Scott.
In this every other week podcast series we talk about the kind of things that come up when one friend lives in the City and the other in the Country.
Losing your sh** is not an easy thing to talk about. No one is really proud of not being able to keep it together under pressure, yet as small business owners it is something we all go through.
While I do not feel comfortable being this open and vulnerable (yeah, even me) I think that it is an important topic to merit a few episodes about the different elements of why burnout happens. I am bringing on some guests to discuss the topic and we’ll keep it light.
This was a tough podcast episode for me to publish. I have been dealing with burn out lately and that has lead to depression.
I am definitely not the only person to have run a small business and have experienced this. There are high highs and low lows when it comes to small business management and farming is perhaps worse than most.
Is social media all it's cracked up to be? It is still working for some and yet, not for others. I speak with one farmer in this podcast episode who is gaining some attention through his efforts in Social Media.
Imagine that you built a business that relied on someone else doing their job well in order to properly satisfy and impress your customers. Now imagine that you lost that important connection. There are people in this world more brave than I am who are willing to take a seriously leap of faith and take control of the critical step in their business. One of those people is my guest on the show today. She took matters into her own hands when she decided to start her own on farm slaughterhouse or abattoir.
Does it feel like sometimes you want to just not have a plan? Let me tell you, it is that time spent planning that helps you figure out what is going to wrong and how you will be able to handle it when things take a turn. Today I interview two farmers from my area that are taking their planning and analysis to make some very positive changes on their farm. I’m even going to cut the text short today and really encourage you to listen to what Paul and Rebecca have to say.
This month brings a combo post like you’ve never seen before. The Farm Finance Challenge and the Growing Farms Podcast have landed on the same day. In honor of such an event one of the participating farmers in the FFC is the interview on the podcast this week.
It is not the small farm's place to count on the grain elevator to set the prices. It is our job to go out, market out products in new and creative ways, and hustle in a way that sees out small businesses succeed (hopefully). This is a topic that I've covered in previous podcasts but since I am currently and constantly refining it, I feel it needs revisiting. I also have a guest on the show who is diversifying her farm not only in production but in marketing as a way to deal with the swings in the market.
Today's podcast guest is a farm educator who has accomplished some pretty amazing things in his area of the world. In this podcast episode he and I talk about motivations for bringing kids on farm, opening your farm up to the public, and weaving an educational element into farm life. Farm life in and of itself is an education. I know that I learn something new every day. I am now excited that I can share those experiences with others.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Isn’t that the truth? 2015 has gotten off to a rocky start but things are really starting to look up. Through a strange turn of events I ended up being the only one running the farm this year in a place that need more than one person to run it. That is all about to change. I have adjusted my farm business plan to reflect the changing of the guard and we are moving forward in a more positive direction. We’re going to farm smarter instead of harde
Farm marketing is really funny in that is can be very easy, or it can take a significant amount of effort. Today's podcast showcases a good example of both. My guests today Patti & Rick from Breakwind Farm are a good example of choosing the right farm location as well as some really successful branding centered around humor. Camps Road Farm, my farm, is a good example of poor farm location and I'll be honest, some boring branding.
Troy Bishopp "The Grass Whisperer" is an experienced farmer and great writer that is taking his skills and filling in that information gap. On today's podcast he talks about saving a whole bunch of money by keeping your cows on grass longer, he drops some words of wisdom about how to learn on farm, and the rest of the interview is jam-packed with helpful tidbits whether you raise animals on pasture or not.
When it comes to owning and operating a farm business there is a lot of talk about scale. Are you big enough? Are you too big? What is right, what is wrong? There is only one right answer, whatever works best for you is what works best for you. On the show today is a guy with about 10 acres and he is striking a balance that works for him and his family. He is also approaching farming or homesteading in a very smart way and has a lot of good information to share from doing so.
We live in an increasingly digital age and as farmers we have a lot of options for how to market our farm online. Where do we focus? Where do we spend our time? At the end of the day, where do we make the investment? Today's podcast is not about registering on places like LocalHarvest.org or similar sites where we can get a posting that people can find. It is about actively engaging our customers so that once they find us they stay informed, engaged, and keep coming back.
2014 was a great year for Farm Marketing Solutions and for Camps Road Farm. Online I made a lot of great progress as well. I am constantly listening to hear when farmers are struggling with something or if someone needs some advice. I am also learning a lot as well. About farming, about marketing, and about my audience. Well, 2015 is going to be no different. I have a lot to learn and I want to learn and grow as a group. That is why I have already launched my content plan for 2015. I have been very busy.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back on 2014 there are a number of things that I would do or manage differently on the farm. There are little things, like how we raise our chickens, or bigger picture stuff like how we communicate as a team to work more efficiently. With the year coming to a close, it is about time I start thinking about the lessons that I learned this year, and how I am going to apply what I've learned in the coming months.
There are SO many topics to cover when to comes to farming. Each topic reflects on something that the average farmer has to deal with as he or she runs their operation. Today's podcast episode covers it all. The mindset to focus on today is that of the big picture. It is very easy to get caught up in the minutia of each farming task. As we work through all of the little details, which are super important, we must remember the big picture and our holistic goal.
It takes a long time to figure out what your farm is and what it is going to be. Even if you think you have an idea of exactly what you want to do on your farm that vision is bound to change. Today's podcast talks to this theme with Forrest Prit.
Starting a farm anywhere can be an uphill battle. The thing you have to focus is is that you are (hopefully) doing it with good intentions, and you have to want to live your passions. If you focus on those two things the rest will fall into place. If you want to start a farm at a College or University you may be in luck. We live in a time where more and more people are open to and interested in small scale sustainable agriculture.
The are SO many farming operations to choose from when starting a farm. The one I chose to start with, and that has become the cornerstone of my farming operation is pastured poultry. That specifically means in this instance raising chickens on pasture with the intention of selling them for meat. When raising meat chickens there are a number of factors that you have to take into account when you are choosing a breed. Any option can be a good option as long as it works for you.
Having people come visit your farm can simultaneously be very stressful and the most fun you've had all year. With how much transparency is playing a part in small farm marketing these days, on farm events are a great way to get your customers (or potential customers) involved in the farm. This farm podcast is about our first annual Hop Harvest Festival at Camps Road Farm. What we did to plan it, how we pulled it off, and what we plan to do differently next year.
The hiring of farm workers can be a really tricky process. How do you know you're going to hire the right person? What's the process like if you've never done it before? That's what we're talking about (and more) in today's podcast episode.
It will never cease to amaze me the amount of things that farmers will take on in a season. There are many factors that play into how that happens, but at the end of the day it is how you deal with it that defines you.
Every farmers' journey through life will be as uniquely theirs as their farm will be. Today's podcast episode shares a great story of how a vegetable farm was started in Missouri not just by one woman, but by a community of people working to support that one woman. I found out very early on that it is not the individual that succeeds, but the group. I could not be where I am today, and I know I couldn't go where I am headed without the support of those people around me.
"The riches are in the niches." Or so I've been told. The problem is often that there is a lot of consumer educating involved with introducing a niche product onto the market. What do you do when no one knows how to use what you have to offer, but you know it's going to be a good business? One of the answers that I have found is to try everything. If you are in multiple forms of media you will be able to reach people in the way that best fits their learning style.
The most common misconception about video marketing is that it is hard. That doesn't have to be true at all. I recorded, edited, and published my latest farm video right from my cell phone. Quite honestly, that blows my mind, and I'm a geek. In this episode, let's take a look at the three biggest fears that people have when it comes to video marketing.
The best I can do with Farm Marketing Solutions is to give you my perspective on what is stressing me out and how I am dealing with it. I found that regardless of how many things go poorly, (and they will, it's part of learning) you have to concentrate on the positive things in life.
As a new format for the matching blog post in addition to the podcast I want to share some photos from around the farm to give you visual perspective to go with the audio.
The list of things to do is ever expanding on the farm. There is always more to do, and even simple tasks become complicated if left to long. I have been working for years to find a system that works for me in terms of organizing and record keeping. Am I done? Heck no! I have a long way to go yet, but I have learned some good things along the way. In today's farm podcast episode I share many of those strategies that I have used and the ones that I still am using today.
Agility in your agricultural business can be the difference between coming back for another growing season, or putting the farm to rest. That agility starts with listening. Your customers will tell you what they want you to produce. It is then up to you to decide whether you want to listen, and if that will work for both you and your business.
Sustainable farming is the path I have chosen for my career in agriculture. When you think about it, it's kind of a no-brainer. It's right there in the name, "sustainable". That means I get to keep going. I get to keep doing what I love because it is sustainable. That word sustainable has given me pause lately. I have been giving it thought while moving chicken coops, talking with the other farmers who work with me, and while working on this podcast episode.
There's more than one way to write a marketing plan. It doesn't have to be scary, it doesn't have to be long, it just has to exist and hit some important point. I brought today's guest on the show to share her expertise on creating a marketing plan specific to your farm.
It is good business practice to get the most out of any effort you put into your business. That definitely applies to farming. Diversity is the name of the game on small farms these days, but that doesn't necessarily have to mean a diversity of farming operations. Barbara Ronchetti of Island Alpaca Company on Martha's Vineyard shares great insight on having just one type of agricultural operation, in her case alpaca, and getting the most bang for your buck.
Wouldn't it be nice if the perfect piece of land just fell into our respective laps? I know I would love it. Since that kind of miracle doesn't happen every day we must resort to more conventional land-locating techniques. In today's farm podcast I highlight my strategy for finding land.
It's not secret that farming is hard work. What if you want to be a farmer and an online entrepreneur? That's a whole new level. In this episode of the Growing Farms Podcast I share what my schedule is and how I produce the content that I do.
"Anybody can grow stuff. It is selling that is the skill." I love that quote from my guest on the Growing Farms Podcast today. George does a great job at cutting to the chase. If you want to make a living farming you have to sell what the customers want and you have to stay on your toes.
Podcasting is becoming hugely popular as a method of entertainment and education. Marketing professionals and non-marketing professionals around the world are getting into podcasting as another way to reach their audience. What can a podcast do for your farm? The answer is, it can do a lot for your farm. This episode will discuss just that.
One thing we all love as farmers is learning new things about our trade. Wouldn't it be awesome to become an author of one of those books that sits on shelves around the world? That is exactly what we cover on today's farm podcast episode.
Are you trying to start a farm and you are looking for investment capital? The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about successful people trying to make a living at organic or small scale farming. My thought would immediately be that if they found success in another area of business some of that should translate over to farming. Wouldn't that makes sense after all? This episode focuses on the wealthy getting into agriculture and the risks involved.
Starting your own Farm Stay doesn't have to be expensive, and it doesn't have to be difficult. Scottie Jones joins us today to talk about how simple and how profitable it really is. It is a really good idea for farmers who don't already have good road frontage. Another way to get people to come to the farm.
There are few others for understanding order and efficiency better than our veterans. Today's guest is no exception. Terrell Spencer "Spence" of Across the Creek Farm in West Fork, Arkansas has a great many things to say about what it takes to be a truly sustainable farmer. "The real sustainable farmer is a profitable farmer."
In farming you not only have to do what is best for your business, you have to do what is best for you as well. Sometimes that means changing what you grow, sometimes that means down-sizing, and sometimes it means scaling up. Other times is simply means you need to change the way you manage sales to take the stress off yourself. In today's farm podcast episode I speak with Dan Heckler from Jack's Farm in Pennsylvania who has done just that.
There is so much more to starting a career in agriculture than growing vegetables or herding cattle. It is a common misconception that anyone can farm. That is where the important distinction between gardening and farming comes in. To be a farmer takes true grit, a steel sense of resolve, and the willingness to smile in the face of any and every adversary.
The single most important thing when starting a farm is research. This podcast covers some great research information used by myself and my guest Shawn as we start and run our own farms. It does seem at times like there are a million things to learn and get done when starting and running a farm. It takes copious amounts of planning, diligent note-taking, and a whole lot of luck to get it right. In the end, "getting it right" is entirely up to you.
The most successful farm marketing tool in my arsenal is my e-mail list. Each week when I need to sell chickens I send out a letter to my list and within 24 hours I sell out. Now if you substitute "chickens" for vegetables, honey, beef, or whatever product you sell you will find similar results. Today's farm podcast episode features a friend of mine who is part owner of the Winery where I hold my CSA pick-ups.
In order to keep on top of market trends, grow your business, and keep paying the bills you have to be willing and able to adapt to what the market is calling for. That doesn't mean if you are a poultry farmer you need to start raising vegetables, but perhaps you can do something different with your chickens than you are already doing. That is exactly what I am thinking as I look to the future.
On today's episode Kate and I talk about some of the things we do to help keep our relationship healthy. After almost 10 years of being together, 3 of them married, we have put our relationship through just about every test you can imagine. We have come through all of them stronger and closer and we now share that with our daughter. Today's farm podcast is from the heart, with a practical message. I hope you enjoy and thank you for listening.
In the beginning of the episode I talk about a very important part of farming. That important part is working with people. There are SO many people interested in agriculture these days and not all of them want to get their hands dirty. I mean, it is really hard to find people who want to process chickens with me. Even if they do not want to learn how to properly scald and pluck a pastured chicken, they may be able to help you farm out in other ways.
You have the power to effect a generation with your farm. You can give kids that glimpse into the life of a farmer that will give them a deeper appreciation for their food, might encourage them to live healthier, and will have a trickle up (down and all around) effect as they grow up. Who knows, one day they might grow up to start a farm of their own and a podcast to go with it.
This farm podcast episode and my show notes here are purposefully passionate. I put my heart into everything I do. I hope that you come away from this with some of my fire and some of my energy to do good in your life, and for the lives of others.
In today's episode I share a story about some free media attention that I received this year that led to me landing a place to farm, getting me some customers, and giving me a little security about land in the future. You can find my press release and article a little further down in the show notes.
I had a hard time with the title of this podcast because I couldn't decided whether I should write that I have big news AND the Grass Whisperer came to visit my farm, or it IS the big news that the Grass Whisperer came to my farm. It was a tough call because it sure was great having Troy on my farm.
Starting and running a farm is no small task no matter who you are. You can plan until your heart's content, but there are variables and things will inevitably change. That doesn't have to be a bad thing though. You will learn a lot through farming, about farming itself, and about who you are and what you are capable of. Boot-strapping is not just about saving money. It is about making sure you have the right tools for the right job.
Branding is super important to your agricultural business whether you are on one acre or one thousand. Branding is not just for the big guys. These days people are even developing personal brands to clearly define how the are represented in the world.
Defining the fundamentals of why you are farming and what your farm means to you and your customers is the most crucial step when starting your farm business. You brand is your business, plain and simple.
Setting up your farmers' market stand or roadside stand can be a daunting task. This is your point of sale. It is at this place where you will finally see some return for all the hard work you have put into your farm during the week. How you represent yourself and your farm with your farm stand is how your customer is going to perceive your products. In this week's agricultural podcast episode we talk about what you can do to make your farm stand more appealing.
In this episode of the Growing Farms Podcast I bring on Scott Graves, an agricultural businessman with a passion for the arts. Scott and I discuss farm business plans, things to look for when you want to expand or rejuvenate your business, and a whole lot more.
In this farm podcast episode I discuss the two types of stories you are likely to hear when you start to compare yourself to other farms. They both have their good and their bad elements. The trick is to take a story for what it is, know that your story is different, and make sure your realize that there is much more than the words on the page.
In this agricultural podcast I talk about the efforts I am making to tell my story, and how educating my customers is paying off for me. I then interview the director of marketing at Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs on the strategies they are using to educate their customers.
Farming certainly keeps you on your toes. Just when you think everything is going your way, life throws you a curve ball. That's certainly alright. It is not what happens to you, it is how you deal with it. I was recently thrown a curve ball regarding a delivery and storage of 4,000 pounds of chicken feed. It's alright, I dealt with it, well, I'm dealing with it, and I talk about that a little in today's farm podcast episode.
Your farm products, your farm, and you the farmer all have something in common. You should all be presented in a clean and organized manor to help increase sales. There are so many reasons to keep a clean farm. Efficiency, marketing, and peace of mind are just a few.
Today's farm podcast covers this very topic.
There is a generational gap between old farmers and new. The average age of the American farmer is pushing 60. They are starting to look at retirement, looking to pass the farm on, and looking to get out of the business. There is good news! A new generation of farmers is coming on the scene. The kids of the old generation did not get into farming, but the grand-kids are, and for new reasons. In this episode I discuss my opinion of the future of farming in America.
Keeping organized is critical when running a farm. There are simply too many things to manage to be disorganized. Keeping it all in your head is not an option, because no matter how good you think you are, you are going to forget things.
I have a few organizational tools that I cover in today's agricultural podcast. Managing all the projects we as farmers have to manage is tough, but keep organized and you will be fine.
I discuss one of the reasons I have for starting a farm, my health. I share insights into my goals of creating a healthy atmosphere for myself and my family through farming, and give some advice on how to deal with motivating others to eat right.
Adapting new technologies can sometimes be a good thing, and sometimes be a bad thing. Adapting to the internet is a good thing. It can, as it has for me, do good things for your business.
I have been marketing my CSA through my farm website, social media, and out on the streets in person. Even with the people I meet in person, a good percentage of them like having the website to send to friends, review at home, or join my CSA when they decide to.
It is really important in your farm marketing efforts to adapt to meet the needs of your market. That means more than just growing what people want. It also means growing it the way they want it grown. I recently switched my feed because my customers were asking for organic non-GMO feed. I would have been feeding my chickens that anyway, I just didn't know how I could get it near my farm. When someone pointed it out, it was a natural switch.
Farming is as much about business as it is growing things. Time spent outside should be balanced by time spent inside. Both places require you to make smart investments for your future. Those investments might be to buy equipment, spend time connecting with customers, or growing your agricultural business in any number of ways.