Red Truck FarmRidgefield, WA Amber Baker & Jason Karnezis
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Vision & Mission • Vision: Create a profitable organic produce farm which contributes to a thriving local economy and community. • Mission: Red Truck Farm’s mission is to provide local restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions specialty and heirloom produce from our small scale, certified organic, family-run farm in Ridgefield, Washington. We see our customers as our strongest partners and pride ourselves on the relationships that we build, and the quality, consistency, and freshness of the produce we provide.
How did we get here? • 2 season CSA Farm Apprenticship (SIO) • Systems, Selling, and Sustaining • 1. Systems – irrigation, cultivation, greenhouse, packout, etc. • 2. Selling – the right fit for the farm • 3. Sustaining – Daily, Monthy, Seasonal tasks for efficiency • Began our own “farm” - 2007 • ¼ acre: grew dry beans and a few “safe” crops • What’s safe around here? • 2008-2010 seasons: ½ acre lease on Sauvie Island -2009 farmer’s market experiment • 2011 – present: purchased own land in Ridgefield - 7 acres, half in forest, tiny orchard, house on site
Secret Formula to Buying your own land • 1 queen size box spring + Craigslist = buyer, who also owns land on Sauvie = annual lease. Stir often, add water in summer + double commute + work weekends + sell to whomever you can + forget something at the farm once in a while = triple commute. Add seed catalogs in winter + deceive yourself that last season wasn’t so hard = Repeat in ‘09 but add a Farmer’s market “trial” = Repeat in ‘10, drop the farmer’s market + open another full acre on top of your ½ acre + farm tours + beg friends for help (farms are cool, right guys?) = moment of clarity in Winter ‘10 that this is no longer, nor ever was sustainable = find a Realtor.
The Secret Formula to Becoming a Farmer (or structure = function) • 1. There is no Secret • Figure out what part of farming appeals to you and that will largely determine how you structure your farm • Only Vegetables? • Only Meat? • Only Fruit? • Only Value added? • Some combination of the above? • Be honest with yourself and listen to what you are passionate about. WE HAVE BEEN, AND CONTINUE TO BE A PART-TIME FARM
Working off the Farm • Off-farm income was and is our primary source for paying our living expenses. • Our pace of growth is steady. • Amount of land we cultivate • Amount and types of accounts • Comfort dealing with “farming” (things break, always) • Type of produce we choose to focus on • Amount of time we spend on the farm business • What we grow is reflective of our part-time model • Benefits of working off-farm, beyond income • Marketing opportunities and perspective
Infastructureand Systems • Primary soilworking – Kubota Tractor, BCS • Secondary soilworking – Farmall Cub, BCS, Hand tools • Irrigation – existing plumbing (needs upgrade) • Crop Protection – Deer fencing (needs upgrade) • Greenhouse, Low tunnels, High Tunnel, Mid-tunnels • Packout Barn (needs upgrade) • Cooler (building now) • Delivery vehicle (red truck) • Record-keeping (field books, computer, accounting) • Marketing tools (cards, social media, showing up)
Farm and Ranch Insurance • Commercial Business Liability • Selling to grocers and insitutions • Farm and Ranch Policy • Covers visitors, farm tours, dinners • Covers equipment and infrastructure • Crop/Commodity insurance • Not currently enrolled but could apply, especially if you’re growing only one or two items or have livestock
Our Products -2012 High value crops per bed foot (ex. basil) High demand crops to keep our list competitive (ex. Alliums, potatoes) Hardy crops either in the field or post-harvest (squash) Heirloom Bean Seed packets (winter income)
Our Products -2013 High value crops per bed foot - tomatoes, pepper, eggplant High demand crops to keep our list competitive (ex. Alliums, potatoes, shell beans, beets, basil) Hardy crops either in the field or post-harvest (squash) Greens, bunched and in bulk (Arugula)
Market Analysis • Our Market • Over 100 restaurants in the Portland/Vancouver metro area who are sourcing products locally • New Seasons Market opening new stores each year - scheduled to open a 13th in fall 2012 • Bon Appetit –min 20% of products from local sources, serve a number of educational and private institutions
Local Grocery – New Seasons Market • Amber’s off-farm job was the initial foot in the door • ‘07 = a few cases of kale, hot peppers and basil • Feedback was very positive (QQC) • ‘08-’12 = Market Day program highlights local grocers • Market day manager annual planning: 2008 – present • Feedback loop and the “no contract” advantage • ‘09 – Present = Company wide distribution of products • Work with both Market day and Produce managers • Direct drop and bulk drop to OGC • 2013: Move into one or two stores as featured grower • Work with store specific produce managers The customers face of the company continues to evolve
Restaurants • Originally delivered for CSA farm • Cont’d exposure with wine delivery • Fit with our part-time farming model • Must have’s for Restaurant Accounts • Elevator speech abbreviated: • Who are you? • What do you have? • Product list with pricing, availability, delivery days • Contact information • Follow up • Variety is usually a better bet than not • When can that be an exception?
Restaurants/Chefs continued • Variety is usually a better bet than not • When can that be an exception? • QQC defined • Quality, Quantity, Consistency: ”...We see our customers as our strongest partners and pride ourselves on the relationships that we build, and the quality, consistency, and freshness of the produce we provide. “ • Quality: If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t ship it • Quantity: How much of something do you have? • Consistency: How long will you have it? The Q and Q is consistent from week to week. • Invite them to your farm to visit and/or host a dinner • Go eat at their restaurant • They’re just as passionate as you about exceptional product
Institutions – Lewis and Clark &Reed Colleges • The farmer’s market saving grace 2009 farm tour by one chef resulted in 1 phone call in ‘11 that began the relationship • never remove a contact off of your produce list once they’re on unless they specifically ask • A few initial deliveries at the end of one semester opened the door for a conversation about their needs for the following growing season • High Volume underscores the QUANTITY in QQC • Potential for Standing Orders
How? How? How? Common themes for all 3 types of accounts: • QQC – Make sure you’re ready to bring on a new account • Each are reselling our product in some form • Stop in, eat, chat, go have a drink, talk shop outside the normal channels • Follow your chefs • They often lead to more chefs if your QQC is strong • As-direct-as-possible sales reinforce our relationship
How, part 3: Some Tips on the Cold Call • Get comfortable with “No” • Get even more comfortable with your • elevator speech • Evaluate your audience • Chef • Institution • Grocer • Sample box tips for chefs • Keep it simple, don’t primp • Include product list • Follow up • Institutions - Respect proper channels • Grocers – Produce managers • Timing
Loans and Grants • Calculating risk and seizing opportunity • NRCS EQIP grant • High tunnel • Raptor poles • Pollinator Hedge Row • Cover Crop • USDA • The Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed the Microloan (ML) program to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and the smallest of family farm operations by modifying its Operating Loan (OL) application, eligibility and security requirements. $35K Cap.
Bigger is … bigger (know when to grow) • Revisit your vision/mission statement at least once a yr. • What did I do? • Changes in infrastructure • Changes in what was grown/raised/sold • Changes in off-farm job • Changes in rest of life (you should have one) • What did I make? • Stronger /Weaker accounts • More/Less time off-farm • Increase/Decrease in gross profit • How does it/ did it/ will it feel? • Injury or exhaustion, barely making it, or, that was easy • Do I need to change my vision/mission or what I did?
Vision & Mission Revisited • Vision: Create a profitable organic produce farm which contributes to a thriving local economy and community. • Mission: Red Truck Farm’s mission is to provide local restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions specialty and heirloom produce from our small scale, certified organic, family-run farm in Ridgefield, Washington. We see our customers as our strongest partners and pride ourselves on the relationships that we build, and the quality, consistency, and freshness of the produce we provide.