The Money!

Placed another BIG Fedco Order this morning. Like $367 big.  That might not be a Grillo, but it is amazing all the things needed to tool up for market gardening.    Included in this order are two set of 600′ of drip irrigation complete with regulators, etc -one each for both farms.  Also included is 10#’s Japanese Buckwheat for weed smothering and benificial attractant, 2# of Dutch White Clover for undercropping, a broccolli knife for lettuce harvest, etc etc.

Obviously the drip irrigation is the lion’s share of the order.  But the regulators and main lines should be around for up to ten years with good storage and care, and the “T-Tape” lines should last several seasons. They claim they can last up to 5-10, but 2-5 seems more reasonable.  The freedom and accuracy that the drip irrigation will give me is worth (almost) every penny.  Irrigation is now a matter of flipping on a spigot and letting it run for an hour or so while I harvest or weed instead of spending an entire evening a week watering each plot.

I had about $200 budgeted, but after spending 10 hours planting potatoes and figuring on the $2000 in harvest I am hoping for, $50 in annual irrigation seemed like a good insurance policy.  The kicker with starting up this operation is the incredible upfront costs.  I am getting dang near $6k and haven’t sold a dime in produce yet.  Luckily I have a diversified “farm” business and the barrels are offsetting most of this.  Some things need to be considered:

  • I am sparing little to no expense -we are relatively cash rich, but time poor right now in Suburbia with our Real Jobs so I am choosing to buy quality (the Grillo) instead of used fixer uppers as I need the tools, irrigation, what have you to start the first time, every time.  I get about 90 minutes a day in the field once you factor out my Real Job, transit, and dinner with the kiddos…   If you are in the reverse this could be done for a fraction of the cost.
  • I am front loading the expenses.  When we move out of suburbia to the townships I will need what little cash we will have for payments, livestock, fencing, tools and the hundred other things that will pop up once we have land.  Going in with my irrigation, tillers, hand tools, etc paid for (and lessons learned on!) will be a big advantage.
  • I am building things that aren’t on the balance sheet, like dirt under the nails knowledge, time with mentors in the field, and perhaps most importantly: my market

Doubling my mortgage once we have land means that gardening for profit stops being an academic excersize with the first bank bill and I need to have a working business plan in place before I do that.  If we get anything larger than 1-2 acres (and I want 5-20) I will need to be able to demonstrate to a banker that I can (and have been!) generate income from growing vegetables.

Even though the bills are becoming a bit stressful as we edge in and out of The Black on the balance sheet YTD it all becomes moot every time I fire up the Grillo, pull the soil over the potatoes, or transplant a romaine.  “Find something you love doing, and then find a way to make money doing it”  Add in the very real aspect of I am helping a dozen people eat a percentage of their food locally while gathering information to help hundreds others do the same and I am feeling pretty good depsite the sore back and pocketbook.

Be the Change


5 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, Rob. It is a good thing for all of us to summarize and restate goals. You are certainly good for your words – be the change. I guess I can’t just dismiss you as a boy with his toys. /snark

  2. Thank KC! I wouldn’t rule me out of the boy w/toys camp, but I try to channel that energy into something useful rather than building and racing cars like I did as little as 3 years ago.

    Thanks again and stay posted, I think I am finding a nice mix between working until I can’t hold the tools anymore (literally) and being able to brain dump it into a 500 word post or so. Prolly settle into 1-3 posts weekly or so w/ pics. Like Tiny Farm Blog I will likely use Onestraw as a farm journal- just keeping my notes public so anyone can learn from my suceses and foibles.

  3. Sounds like a good plan. Rob, you may already have read Greenpa’s post today, but if not you really should. It is an inspired, information-packed post. You won’t regret the minutes spent reading it.

  4. glad I’m not the only “reformed” car nut. (now I’m thinking electric) but anyway I will certainly welcome the farm journaling. You will go from just being the change to being the example. And that, is the key.

    Until people see that there is life “outside the box” no one will believe it.

  5. Good luck! My fiance and I eventually want to have a market garden but we still live in apartment so step 1 for us is the container garden we started this year. It seems to be doing well but even the costs for that add up.

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