Growing our farmpreneur business
It’s been a long while sense we’ve posted on this blog. A long, long while. Over a year. Oops. We’re all so thankful for social media platforms to keep the world updated of our here-n-there, in-n-out, what’s-new-and-exciting. Or not. No apologies, however. We’ve been busy growing our farmpreneur business!
What’s a “farmpreneur” business. A farm, with an entrepreneurial focus, that is growing a viable business, often via a niche or emerging product. In our case, microgreens. While microgreens are not a new product for chefs, farm CSA programs or food cooperative stores, they are finally emerging on the grocery retail stream, bringing fresh, healthy, locally grown microgreens to the average store consumer, for enhancing their every day foods with a burst of flavor, and power packed nutrition.
a look back – YOLO
It’s been a busy 2018 rushing right into 2019, that is now half over. We did our very first farmers market in March 2018, the Faribault Winter Farmers Market. That was a smashing success, so we did a rinse-repeat in April. Summer 2018 found us both still working full time jobs, and juggling four area farmers markets. The goal was four every week, but alas, we are only human. We sold at least two per week, and often three.
That zany few months showed us how to live outside our comfort zone, outside our sleep needs, and outside our wildest imaginations. In August, Jayne quit her job. For many reasons, not related to this business. In the end, we decided she would put her full effort towards growing My Sweet Greens MN. YOLO.
In September we reached out to area co-ops. Just Food Co-op in Northfield, Bluff Country Co-op in Winona, and Spiral Natural Foods in Hastings. Shortly thereafter, we were making weekly deliveries to these stores. They welcomed us, a bit rough around the edges and green – not green in a good way. Little by little they mentored, suggested changes and coached us on the retail world.
Last January, Dean told Jayne “I want to be in five Hy-Vee stores.” Be careful what you ask for. Within space of two weeks, we were in four, and it wasn’t long before numbers five and six were on board. During that same time, we were excited to be in a couple more restaurants, making their menu plates so beautiful. Be sure to take a look at our where-we-are listing here
During the months of January through April, we vended at both the Rochester Farmers Winter Market twice monthly and Faribault Winter Farmers Market once a month – we had come full circle.
After a couple of weeks off in May, that included the last daughter’s high school graduation, we hit the ground running in June with our summer markets – Rochester Farmers Market and Riverwalk Market Fair in Northfield. It’s been a year of “drinking through a fire hose” learning, making errors, running fast, being sleep deprived and often short on patience. No one said growing a farmprenure business would be easy.
But we did it. We are doing it. Consumables like clam shell packaging and labels are ordered by the thousands, soil and seeds by the many pounds. Two people have joined our team to do packaging twice weekly and make sure we have our 1000-1200 clams monthly ready to go on deliveries and markets. They keep Jayne sane…. We have an assistant for Dean starting soon – to keep Dean sane.
Dean continues to work full time at his off farm job, while keeping up with planting and harvesting 150 pounds of microgreens a month. He’s also working on our rented two acres, growing some market garden produce to sell at the markets, but primarily restoring and regenerating the tired old dirt. He cover-cropped it last year, added to that this year, and has about a third of an acre in production. With out any tools or equipment, he’s coaxing lovely salad greens. We have quite a few tomatoes coming on, some cucumbers, onions, potatoes and hopefully beets later this season. Pray for the man, please. He’s stretched more than ever.
why are we doing this?
At times, one or the other of us will ask, “Why are we doing this??” He or shee props him/her back up, gives a pep talk, stern warning, humorous tidbit, and then we keep on chugging. We need to remind ourselves our mission is not just to make lots of money (mission not accomplished!) but to bring good, healthy food, to local people, educate on nutrition and how to incorporate microgreens and healthy foods into their diet. Above all, we champion the importance of supporting local growers, makers and entrepreneurs. It’s vital to the local community and economy. (see list at the end.)
you matter, a lot
We can’t thank our customers, accounts, friends, family, supporters and all who have believed in us this past two years. In other words, this wouldn’t happen without you. Our family members have been awesome! The daughters have all helped with markets and events, Jayne’s oldest son has given technical support (and found a new laptop for Jayne) and Jayne’s mom has helped with loaning us her car and helping with cutting and folding of the paper towel inserts for the clamshell boxes. Our market customers are so encouraging! We learn much from you. Store produce managers are great, and have helped us navigate the grocery market world.
Truly, this journey has been hard, fun, scary, and amazing. Let’s keep on Growing!
thinking local – your dollars matter
In conclusion, think on this list when you purchase goods and food for your home and family.
- 1. More of your money will be kept in your local economy. For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.*
- 2. You embrace what makes your community unique. You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?
- 3. You create local jobs. Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you help create jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions.
- 4. You help the environment. Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.
- 5. You nurture community. Local business owners know you, and you know them. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.
- 6. You conserve your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify your community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong— in your community!
- 7. You create more choice. Locally owned businesses pick the items and products they sell based on what they know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because they buy for their own individual markets.
- 8. You took advantage of their expertise. You are their friends and neighbors, and locally owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They’re passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of it?
- 9. You invested in entrepreneurship. Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
- 10. You made your community a destination. The more interesting and unique you community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!
*Source:Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics. as found on www.independentwestand.org