Farm Startup — Year One Income
Tim Boucher
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Farm Startup — Year One Sales By Group

Drilling down into my Year One Income figures, here is a visualization and some supplementary data of where I made my money.

My total sales for the 2015 season: $7,544.15 (CAD)

Groups broken down by dollar amount:

  • Restaurants — $5,324.65
  • Farms — $856.00
  • Direct sales (on-site or to friends) — $816.50
  • Market — $523.00
  • Stores — $24.00

Restaurants

As you can see, restaurant sales accounted for the bulk (70.6%) of my total sales. I had five restaurant buyers, and of those one turned out to be my main buyer, leaving the others in the dust.

Restaurant clients by dollar amount:

  • A — $5,001.75
  • B — $134.50
  • C — $109.9
  • D — $48.00
  • E — $30.50

There is a lot more to be written about selling to restaurants, and with only one season growing commercially under my belt, I know I’m far from an expert.

Visualized in OpenOffice Calc, the restaurant percentages break down like this:

This was my first season, and I’m still learning the game, but in my book, I’d just as soon drop everybody except my main client. I’m not yet sure how it will pan out, but my main chef-buyer has since moved to another restaurant. They’ve said they’re looking forward to working with me again next season, though I’m not quite sure we’ll see the same sales volume.

In any event, I’m starting to crack the professional chef network and I know my friend has spread the good news to some of his colleagues. I’m hoping I can bundle 2–3 good fine cuisine clients like this into a super-small delivery radius and provide just high-end specialty products to them and them only.

All of my restaurant clients last year were within a 30-minute driving range. At the height of the season, I was delivering twice per week to my main client. Next year I will probably drive a little further (45–50 minutes), but make only one weekly delivery to hopefully 2–3 tightly-grouped buyers.

Other Farms

Mid-season, I managed to strike up a friendship and good working arrangement with another local farm which does weekly CSA baskets. In addition to their weekly baskets, members there can select add-on items which change throughout the season. I furnished microgreens for these a la carte clients, and toward the end of the season also sold dry herbal teas.

One other local CSA called me during a week when they had crop failure, and I was able to supplement for about 10 baskets for $60. My only other farm sale was the chickens I sold at the end of the season to a guy who specializes in small animals ($5 each).

Direct Sales

By direct sales, I mean generally sales that took place on-farm (ie, at our house) and/or to friends to whom we delivered. It’s a lot of little sales, but it adds up and it means you have a steady trickle of small amounts of cash that you can squirrel away in a coffee can or similar.

Market

Between the last week in August and the first week in September, I sold over 19 sessions at a new farmer’s market in a local park — I was the only farmer. There were 3–4 booths run by local artisans, and for that market location, 95% of the attendees were tourists, and most of them not from the region. This means they aren’t the kind of people who are going to buy vegetables. They are more people looking for souvenirs. This is actually how I got into selling herbal teas, because it’s something dry in a package which they could easily travel with without it going bad.

I’m currently trying to make arrangements with a bigger more established farmers’ market in town which I think only operates for 8 weeks, with four hour sessions. I’ve heard from one of my other farm contacts that this venue is really profitable, so I’m planning to give it a shot.

Stores

I never actually intended to sell any products through stores, but a local small boutique approached me and I sold just a handful of times through them, but I didn’t find it to really be worthwhile. I may try them again in the future with herbal teas — which I plan to be one of my flagship products for this coming season.

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