Farming isn’t Wholesaling

The world we live in today has what I call hyper-surplus. Lots of shopping happens in large big box stores with products piled 30-feet high or online where the likes of Amazon has virtually unlimited supply of anything. It’s been well discussed that, in this environment, we’ve all been trained to get whatever we want whenever we want it – myself included.

Over the years I’ve found that these expectations have bled into my own little business as well. I’ve gotten more incredulous reactions from people at the farmers market or on the phone when I tell people, “Sorry, I can’t supply 50 lbs of beets…or, 5 bushels of tomatoes…or, 30 lbs of salad mix with a day’s notice.” It isn’t that I’m keeping the good stuff all stored away in a warehouse and just choosing not to sell; that would be foolish. Indeed, if I had a warehouse of produce, you’re darn right I’d sell any product at any quantity possible. But, this is where farming and wholesaling diverge – farming in general and Lida Farm in particular have very real limits. One, farming takes time. Two, land has limits of production, no matter how much agro-chemical companies try to tell us otherwise.

Time: If a store run out of a product, it’s simply time to re-order. If we run out of a vegetable, it’s impossible to manufacture on the spot. I made the decision about how many celery plants to grow 80 days before harvest and there’s no going back in time to fix it. The other time constraint is simply what it takes to harvest and prepare a vegetable. Today’s salad mix, for example, took about two hours to harvest, wash, and bag – and this is just one of 12 crops in the box. Combine with juggling a farmers market and three farm stands, and it’s a wonder we’ve been getting these boxes out mostly on time at all.

Land: We grow produce on the four acres of tillage land which would actually work for vegetables on our 20-acre farm. We can certainly always do a better job of weeding and managing crops, but, let me assure you that no matter how well managed, an acre of produce can only produce so much stuff. Even with a very successful potato crop this year, we have at best 1,200 lbs left. Once they are gone, they are over until 2018. Even if we did a perfect job weeding, cultivating, and managing the crop, we might have 200 lbs more.

Although these limits keep us from a few more sales, that’s fine. I remind myself that we can only grow as fast as soil builds, which is quite a bit slower than our modern world generates pixels or robots manufacture goods. I also remind myself that I’m a human organism, which also has limits of time and energy, even a season not unlike plants. We should all remember that in this 24/7 world, our limits are not something to bemoan, but accept and celebrate because they make us humans, not machines.

In the box:

  • Snap Peas: Edible pod…yes, these made their fall comeback
  • Beans: Most received green, but some got yellow
  • Canteloupe
  • Delicata Squash: Yellow-striped sqaush. Good baked in oven dry.
  • Acorn Squash: Great for stuffing. Try doing a stuff with breadcrumbs, the sage in the box, and bulk pork sausage.
  • Russet Potatoes 
  • Cherry Tomato Mix
  • Fresh Sage
  • Red Onion
  • Yellow Storage Onion
  • Eggplant: Some received long Asian style, others traditional Italian style
  • Salad Mix
  • Poblano Peppers: Yes, these have some heat, but not much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s