Farming in the Foothills
Ah winter, the season for a farmer to relax. Well not really. I like to use my “down time” to plan for the coming growing season. I find that the more carefully I plan, the happier I am once I get into the frantic just-trying-to-keep- up-with-things season. A plan gives me peace of mind because I know that I am not just plunging blindly ahead hoping that I will have enough produce to fill the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes and with any luck make some money this year.
I always start my planning process by figuring out how much I want to get paid for the work I do. No one should work for free and this goes for farmers, too. Many farmers work like crazy all season long and usually don’t pay themselves until the end of the year, all the while hoping that there will be some money left by the time they get to the end of the year. Don’t be one of these farmers. If you become one you will get discouraged and quit. So, make a plan to pay yourself and pay your expenses.
I like a very detailed plan that determines how much of each item to grow, what bed the crop will occupy, when to start seeds in the greenhouse, how many succession plantings to do, and on and on. The plan doesn’t have to be this detailed, but I find that the more details I cover the smoother the season runs and the less anxiety I have about meeting my commitments. There are many ways to plan your season: some farmers use pieces of paper and some use specialized spreadsheets that are available for purchase. No matter the format, the important part is that you have thought through the season and know where you are going.
Jim Muck, Jim's Produce, Wheatland
Welcome to the Fooothill Farming blog!
Our new website (http://ucanr.org/foothillfarming) has a lot to offer and will continue to expand as we add more information. If you have a question or you have information to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're interested in starting a small farm or ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills, this is the time of year to start your quest. In January and February 2011, there are lots of options to learn about small-scale foothill farming and ranching.
If you are just starting to think about farming or ranching, the Beginning Farm Planning class will be useful for you. It's a two session class on January 11th and 13th in Auburn. For more information and to register, go to http://ucanr.org/beginning farm planning.
If you need to learn more about marketing, check out the Sierra CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) Marketing and Value-added Workshop on Friday January 14th in Auburn. For more information and to register, go to http://ucanr.org/sierracraft marketing & value added
For lots of options to choose from, consider attending the PlacerGrown Farm Conference on February 5th. For more information and to register, go to http://ucanr.org/placergrownfarm conference
If you've already started farming or ranching but need help with making your business pay, consider the 6-week Farm Business Planning class starting on February 10th. Starting in January, check the UCCE Placer/Nevada website for information and registration.
Another event to consider attending is the Nevada County Grown Sustainable Food and Farm Conference on January 22nd. More information at: http://www.nevadacountygrown.org/conference/
For more opportunities, check the Foothill Farming website regularly.