I did a Beginning Farmer Webinar tonight for Cornell Cooperative Extension. They asked me to cover Post-harvest handling and marketing, two things I enjoy talking about.
Of course, the group had a lot of good questions which I’ll cover below.
Q. Does using the Barrel washer to wash Cherry tomatoes cause bruising?
Not really. We pick them when they are a firmly riped and feel that any tomatoes that become bruised or squashed were too ripe anyway.
Q. How much of the farm income comes from winter sales?
I can grab the specific numbers later, but its approximately a 1/3rd of our gross sales. The net is much higher since our labor cost is greatly decreased.
Q. How long has the farm been operating?
We are entering our 9th year of production.
Q. How does your CSA work?
Visit the website – http://www.kilpatrickfamilyfarm.com/CSA.html – it’s the best place to start, and gives a nice summary of what our CSA provides and how it works.
Q. What is your rate of pay for Employees?
We start everyone out at minimum wage and raise payment from there. People that have been with us for a couple of years are usually between 9-10 dollars an hour. Our highest paid employees max out at 14, plus bonuses and some benefits.
Q. Do you have interns?
Not yet. Although, we will be looking for 2 for this coming year.
Q. What is the air heat for your greenhouses?
Q. Do you have a deer problem?
Yes. We manage the issue with www.plantskydd.com, electric fencing, and some permits.
Q. Do you use a specific template for crop planning? Or do you have any suggestions for finding information on potential yield?
We have our own custom plan that we have developed (which will be posted below) and I have a lot of information/experience stored in my head. Check out Johnnys resource page for information on potencial yields- http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-growers_library.aspx?source=HomeGrowLib
Q. Do you find that there is a max/min in the number of crops one should grow?
For retail marketing (Farmer’s markets) 20-30 different crops is a good mix. It ensures a good looking display, and protects you against crop failures. Never go under 10 if your growing for retail.
Q. Do you guys start all your own crops from seed?
We do, with the exception of three categories: strawberries we get in as tips from Canada and propagate them ourselves after that, sweeties (sweet potatoes) come in as slips from a grower in the south, and onions we have contract grown for us by Barnett Parton in Florida.
Q. What is the water source for the farm?
Our home farm has 3 wells, one field is on a pond, and our big Granville fields are along the Mettowee river. We irrigate with a mix of drip tape, solid-state aluminum, and a kifco B160 waterwheel (http://www.kifco.com/.
Q. Do you harvest all your greens by hand or do you have a small scale greens harvester?
We harvet our greens by hand, although the new harvester from Johnnys looks tempting – http://bit.ly/VcKQFw.
Here’s our Master Plan from 2012. I should be doing an entire post on the new 2013 plan in a month or so.
Here’s the PDF slides for the talk.