our Top 5 Farming wins of 2019
This past year marks year two as farmers for us. We are what you would call first generation farmers. There are not immediate farmers or even gardeners in our family, but we would never let that stop us from going for it.
Since we did not learn from generation wisdom, we decided to find mentors that would show us the ropes and hopefully let us skip their mistakes. So naturally being the learning geek I am I found a rich community online of farmers teaching their ways and showing us step by step to not only start a farm, but do it smart and make sound financial decisions so our farm could be around for years to come.
Because of this wisdom shared with us I think our wins are non-traditional for a farm this size and this young. So we give thanks to our mentors and the deep support we have gotten from our wonderful community. This 5 wins are because of you!
Here we go - Our top 5 wins of 2019
1. Successful first year CSA. The success of our first year CSA blew us away. We were able to successfully grow and deliver food for over 175 shares over 12 weeks. Our goal was to get 100 signups. In 3 weeks of marketing and opening the CSA to members we had to keep looking at our plot plans and bed foot outputs so we could keep raising that number.
2. Grew the best tomatoes I have ever tasted. This one we were told by many locals that we would not be able to grow a tomato in this altitude or season. If we were growing outdoors I would have to agree, but thanks to our spiffy greenhouses and the help of our local tomato guru Paul, we were able to grow a ton of super tasty tomatoes. They came in a little late for our csa but we will be adjusting our planting times this year and see how early we can get them to come in.
3. Expanded from 1/3 of an acre to an acre. This year we hired a farm crew and prepped the fields with tarps at the end of last season so we could expand our growing space. An acre plus a little was our goal and we were able to do it. Our growing season is so short here so bed rotation planning makes it so we can have 1-3 crop rotations in one bed. This basically makes our farm 2-3x the size because of high turnover. If we did longer growing crops (like broccoli, cauliflower, onion, etc.) we would not be able to grow nearly as much food and a lot of that food would have severe damage from bugs and critters if it was growing for the full season.
Growing to this size also required we install a pond for irrigation, build a farm wash station and walk-in cooler. With the help of many talented team members and contractors we were able to get all of this done. Without any of this we would never have been able to create a 175 share csa and grow enough food for two Farmer's Markets. Thank you Paul M., Michaela, Miranda, Paul W., Jeff, Jeff E., Joe, Ruth, and all of our volunteers through the season.
4. Got our Honey Caramel business off the ground. We were able to start selling our Honey Caramels at the Farmer's Markets and get great feedback from our customers. This gave us the boost we needed to find our kitchen and start our Honey Caramel business!
5. Connecting with our community. This is actually one of the main reasons we wanted to start a farm (I will be posting soon on why we decided to start a farm in more detail). Being able to connect with others around food and contribute to our community has been the cornerstone of creating Bee Grateful Farm, and delicious veggies have been a wonderful avenue.
This really should have been a list of the top 20 wins this past season because we were truly blessed this year. I could easily add successfully growing carrots, figured out systems for weed pressure, having a farmer on our team with 10 year experience, golden beets made it to market and were not all eaten by voles, figured out how to grow amazing microgreens, seed and harvest planning was spot on.... the list truly does go on.
We are grateful to be able to do what we do and look forward to growing and improving in 2020. Thank you to everyone who is joining us for the ride!
Us at the Steamboat Farmers Market - YEAR 1
Us at the Steamboat Farmers Market - YEAR 2