A week or so ago, we put a pair of postings that discussed the possibilities for the Genuine Faux Farm in 2021. We have yet to be able to set aside time for a 'mini' farm retreat, so we don't have any huge revelations. But, we can share some progress in the ongoing discussion.
The Individual Connection Quandary
We have maintained a connection with people via direct sales either at farmers' markets, through our CSA or via the farm credits program since 2004. There are many people we have met and with whom we feel a connection to because of these direct sale methods. Yet, one of the options we are considering is moving away from direct to consumer sales entirely.
The 'why' of it is not so hard for anyone to figure out. The entire process of direct, individual sales of any sort requires a fair amount of effort and time. Sure, you can create tools and processes to make it easier. But, these tools will never remove all of the requirements, nor should they, because part of what makes direct sales what they are is the personal touch. Get rid of the personal connection by overusing tools and you might as well save the energy and not do it at all!
So, here we are, trying to balance the new realities of time and energy that come with our new situations at the Genuine Faux Farm. When you add in the reality that we are likely to continue to need to be applying pandemic strategies for several months into 2021, it opens up a whole host of considerations. We're already more isolated than we were in the past. We have already been cutting back our contact hours with customers over the past several years. How do we balance a need for social contact with a need for balancing available resources?
Nothing is set in stone and nothing is decided - so if this worries you, please do not let it. If you have input, however, we're always happy to receive that gift.
What to Grow?
We do not see 2021 changing the number of labor hours we will have available on the farm. At the very least, we have learned what that means in 2020 so we are better prepared to plan for success in 2021. With that in mind, one thing is very clear - we have to continue to simplify and adjust our scale to fit the available labor hours we anticipate that we will have.
After being stymied initially on this question - we started asking ourselves a series of questions that are helping:
- What do we enjoy growing the most?
- What do we enjoy eating the most?
- What grows particularly well on our farm with our established tools and methods?
- What will fit our limited labor resources the best?
- What could we find outlets for?
- What growing tasks have caused the most stress over the past several years?
For example, I (Rob) have personally enjoyed growing peppers, broccoli and melons. I love eating green beans, snow peas and spinach. Our farm has seen excellent success with cucumbers, garlic and onions.
If that were our only candidates to grow (and they are not), we then ask ourselves the next three questions.
Last year we took the opposite approach by identifying crops we didn't enjoy growing, the ones we typically didn't eat and those that did poorly with our farm and systems. We pruned them from our growing list (in most cases). In itself, that feels a bit more negative in approach. Identify failures and things you don't like and remove them.
This time, we're turning it around and asking what we might like to do. At the least it FEELS more positive. So, we'll go with it!
Do you have feedback or ideas? Feel free to share them with us - especially if you know who we are and what we do and how we do it (at some level).