BEST OF: The Long Journey of Slowly Scaling a Farm on the Side with farmer Travis Schulert

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Welcome to farm small farm smart I'm your host Diego de I e Geo today we're going back in the archives lives to pull out a previously aired episode it's the best of episode let's jump right into it I hope you enjoy it for my guest today can coolers and if you want to save some money on that new cool Bot use the code through the show at permaculture voices dot com slash farms mantech until you start doing the work today it's all about the trials and tribulations of slowly scaling farm on the side with farmer farming has been a means to get him in his wife out of that life style which wasn't working but it hasn't been all smooth sailing getting his first season on a brand new plot of land currently dominated by grass as you'll hear in this episode Travis Schuler episode one zero five a farm small farm smart with Travis Schuler is coming up but first a word from today's along the way between production issues see us a issues customer issues in trouble with land tenure it's been a bumpy road farm in your designing redesigning or adding some new on Farm cold-storage Checkout Cool Bot and save forty percent and operating costs compared to traditional show supporter cool by did you know that cool bots not only help to keep your produce cool but they also save you money in their operation Travis has been able to navigate that road so far and is now in his fourth year of farming but one which is also a new beginning as he star on like this I was stuck in a dead end lifestyle living in a trailer park no savings no plans and between twenty four golf things in farming Travis's taking an in stride in doing his best with it and now realizing that farming is only small farms smart when you're on that page just click on the cool by linked to save some money in send some money our way in the process with wife and I lived in a tiny home in saved what we could and started doing markets and learning to sell and grow for Travis in my now age of twenty eight I started to see us an lease land funded the infrastructure of the farm and gave myself the money to build a tiny home that let's get into it and up to Detroit Michigan to talk to farmer Travis Schuler so we previously around for a couple of reasons one just the actual enclosure and the commercial engine is gonNa run anywhere from fifty to eighty percent more and appear for him if you were going apples apple say an eight by eight five eight which is the most common size built for whatever reason we actually did a study on that in addition to that ongoing you're gonNA spend percents cheaper on installation or rural acquisition of a turnkey solution as well as forty two forty three percent savings on the energy if you want to save some money on your listen as well how much money for that let's go to John a cool bought commercial traditional system is gonNA cost more between forty and forty three percent more on the commercial compressor to power the cooling within that same space than you would have cool by and the reasons for that initially initially interested in it and throughout that winner I started learning more about it I started watching farming videos addison cool boxer microcontroller it's an intelligent device year conditioners cycling all the time and the limitation is you're not going to be able to freeze anything you'RE GONNA run down to thirty oh so it was end of the summer two thousand twelve I started kinda like watching documentaries on on us the three thirty four degrees but in any comparable and closure of the same size or cool to used it's always going to be a significant savings but like I said fifty eight walked you told me that you started about four years ago with a garden box in a trailer park in you're in a bad situation was it like then where were you looking at do and and that's licks and that's when I saw like fooding and the real dirt on farmer John You know and that's kind of what got me trying to you know just kind of put my foot in the water and see like is this really something I could do and all of it just seemed it all absolutely beautiful and romantic and exactly what not only what I wanted but what my wife wanted or what my girlfriend at the time wanted and you know we fourteen we were we still had two years left on our mortgage their of before we can even think about getting out of it and going someplace else so just we basically figured out like okay we gotta do something about it we didn't know what you got so going into like the spring of two thousand thirteen I put in another I put in a second garden that in my little trailer Park Yard and we were at two thousand three early on in the spring I started looking for like a CSI or something to to like to go buy a share in and so we spent we spent that whole That whole that whole summer you know every week starting from pretty much the first and then you had to work share option so I paid for full share not really from the produce a lot of it away painting a lot of it but be part of just so I could see how it was how it works I had no experience with it and I found say maybe twenty minutes drive from my house is while he was there he spent more time teaching me you know little extra things that he didn't need to spend time teach you know and that's what what real gene working you know going to do that CSI that was where I'm looking at the lands that he's farming on a lot quicker than you would have otherwise but it was definitely two thousand thirteen that I I got that that idea the thought this is a business maybe this is something I would want to do on my own for us it was definitely that that summer of two thousand thirteen last week I made sure I was there early and waiting at the gate when the farmer got to the farm and you know he had mentioned that food per square foot and this guy's wide rows and he's using plastic mulch I'm thinking like I do everything organically and you know beyond Oregon there's no problem if I got there early and got started with you know whatever needed to be done so he just kind of gives me the freedom to go and then I started getting an hour earlier name more of the go around and get everybody else's produce and that kind of took away some of the learning so I started getting there earlier and he told me the that in initially got my foot in the door with a local farmer that I then came back to many times for you know advice like goosebumps thinking about back at that time because that was back before I had a ton of work it was only a couple of hours of work a week that I had to do on that farm but I had the opportunity which you're not going to get that opportunity unless you put yourself out there and you show up early and you're ready to work hard and show whoever you're working for that you want to the happiest I was that summer was the hour to hour and a half before anybody else got to that far that was like I almost get like learn you can teach if you can show people that you're ready to learn they're going to be much more willing to teach you and you're GONNA learn a lot quicker and we'll get a lot more experience spiral and uh getting basket set up at the end of the rose just basically just doing whatever I could and so what he did for that was for a couple of garden beds in a trailer park and I had no savings no money you know just kinda living paycheck to paycheck trying to get out of hour and a half early and getting the trail tractor going getting that Alz- getting last week's overages dumped in the compost this beautiful professional looking farm that was all mine for an hour and a half and I I mean that just if anybody can get that I joined the full share work-share so I could be there every week picking and harvesting and and just kind of get a feel for it so you caught the bug you'll start learning from that farmer the You participated in the CSI with it will point did you start to think you know maybe I could do relation neither of US wanted to be there and so that was another driving force in the whole thing was having to get out of of this mess and trying to come he had about a fenced-in five Acre area that they were doing their CSA market garden on and I'm looking at it thinking okay my garden beds are producing way more nick and it was in two thousand thirteen when I started really getting the idea that like okay this I I that summer okay he's also selling it a couple of market so you know I have no idea what he makes there and and I just I didn't like at the time I didn't have any plan of like quitting my that with maybe the second week that it's nice you're here early so that and he taught me how to drive the tractor and you know then that I kind of be get you out of that situation that you didn't want to be in no not at all I did not get any of the business side of it all I all I had to go off of was what he charged for a four and a half share I kinda figured out like okay. He's Oh by the way that we should do at that time did you have a concept of what the business of farming was like you're volunteering your time on the farm and you're probably just seeing a lot of the production side did you get to learn a lot of the business side to really come up with a start learning about how you could formulate a plan to do this on your own really just watching every single video that was online that had them in it And so I found I found a video Jones was it was it was before that it was probably August two thousand thirteen I was watching a you know just the situation we were in it because we were both just dreadfully miserable where we were at and trailer park and and the roommates we had there was a a bad city got this roughly this money shares he's making this much a year and that's just on the CSA and that's all money he's getting up front you know and and then I'm thinking I hopped off my ass and that night I was putting putting ads on craigslist you know putting flyers out by next a- and and calls her business on our own land and he goes on to say that you know I it it her her her problem getting started that she was scared and afraid to do it and when she finally decided to take that step she started building moment and he wants artist thing to do in life but it's equally as hard to stop it or slow it down once you've gained it and I literally like that video I I mean I needed to do things that was what you know that was what Kinda Kinda opened the door to it and I realized I can you go with us if I if I want to and it wasn't until that fall was really set me off on it was lady who started a CSA on people's backyards and this was before I had heard of the term stint farming I didn't know that was a thing and he meant Salatin talking at the Mother News Fair Convention back on two thousand six or something and he was talking about like you know like wow okay it can happen we can you know we can do this because at that point your biggest you may be had the desire to raise plants and within I WANNA say like seven days I had three or four people from the immediate area call me or email comfort zone is very difficult but that's usually the only way you're going to be able to build momentum and and but then he says you know building momentum and maybe the era of success I was like okay I've made some money on this you know and and that was where when I when I ran the numbers and like started looking at like the amount of space okay as if I can find some property to do this on then I'll be good I'll be okay then I can figure it out there but at the time I had enough room we telling me you know telling me how how awesome this idea is they just can't wait to get on board you know and and just really excited scrolling through youtube watching typing in names like Joel Salatin and Mark Sheppard and just watching every video that came you know putting in Geoff Lawton and Bill Mollison and I hadn't even considered you know teaching anything because that takes me away from the farm so so that was the goal you know earlier finding a plot that worked for you yeah I actually I went and looked at a couple plots and I even just at one point like a after the first year it's completely natural for the human being to to keep the things around them comfortable and safe you know that's that's a normal behavior so to take yourself out of that I don't have any experience at the time I had no experience the livestock and and so it was that was my only option to become a farmer was to grow plan not so I kind of feeling a little disturbed after that like like I stopped I stopped getting calls after those first few days I kind of exhausted as I looked at the first two plots and both the houses yards we're filled with big mature black wall so that was to grow plants into farm but your biggest constraint was you didn't have the place to do it because you are limited in the trailer park in terms of the lot size that you had so was this world there's lots of people doing lots of good things that don't actually involve growing the food but for me the idea of arming was I'm not going to get to the point of us and and motivation just simply because like I'm being told by other people right down the street from me that they like this idea and they want me to do this and that was To to be a part of it you know and that was Kinda like I right away I was like in in you know had this huge rush of of success week I had the neighborhoods around me plastered with flyers and I was on multiple forums online on craigslist and uh owning a homestead and making money with the products I produce on my farm unless I start growing things and what I know how to do is grow plants shins how this lady started a CSA on on on other people's yards and then like five years has grown at to a two hundred and fifty shares css about twenty five miles and it's It was about twenty to depending on traffic twenty to thirty minutes from where I was living selling it you know I mean like I don't WanNa like cut down on all the people that are doing so much great work in the farming community and and in the farming and sustainable agriculture in Rochester Michigan it's it's a pretty affluent area millions I mean it's a nice part of town for sure it's north of Detroit by understood that building momentum in life is the hardest thing to do if you're stuck in a certain routine and you're used to life being a certain way you know it Auburn anything I just figure like you know I'm GonNa have to start this as keep it going as a hobby basically I'm just going to have to expand my hobby into something that ended a key then launched you to the next phase because you know you're you're not a farmer unless you are growing things is letting the garden it and he did have multiple freeze proof you know water hydrants at that location he had you know solid Ooh seen them and who actually cared that hadn't seen them and then what changed it was I got a call from a guy in electrical hookups down there because he was a union electrician slash hobby farmer gentleman farmer for years so he had the whole property hooked up with he he said Basically wanted me to come look at it and and was telling me that I've got you know I've got water and it caught my attention so I wasn't looked at it and sure enough he had a beautiful place location and you know had no problem with up to that plot to start farming officially for the first time what was the experience like taken a grass field But I have no doubt in my mind if I you know I wouldn't have been him I would have found someplace or some places to do what I wanted to do and in doing that my little garden beds I you know built raised wooden frames on top of the grass covered the grass and all that so it was all new to me and I he had an old tractor and had a two blade plow so what he did for me to help me out was really start paying some bills and if I did it to pay some bills and you know then I reached the first step that first level that I I if I go back and I had the knowledge I have now I I mean I can talk for hours about what I would like to do to that same plot but agricola water pretty much anywhere you went on the fifteen acres so it was a good a really good setup I know I got really lucky with it I regret not doing anything these anything to the soil besides covering a with a local horse manure just to acquire some sort of land too far in from all those flyers that you put out there in those ads people calling did you end up at the time and I thought it was kind of far away but he I talked on the phone with him for quite a while and the landowner was telling me that he lives there but he has fifteen acres and there's like seven or eight of it that's not being used for anything it's just grass that he mows and Taylor a few times in the fall this was like in the fall of two thousand thirteen and I broke up about six thousand square feet kind of like I couldn't find it anywhere more than you know less than like ten feet twenty feet from the drip line of you know the the black breath in converting it into a market garden well it was it I mean it was an experience I didn't I didn't have a whole lot of experience in the brand is called Baretto if anybody who's new to this and needs a really good rototiller that I mean if you've got to rent a Taylor that's the one to rent all together and I planned on using about four thousand for my garden knowing that you're breaking up the soil then in fall when I was younger and and I say younger because when I was twenty five I'm twenty eight now but at twenty four oh through with the two blade plow and he initially just roughly broke it up and then kind of smooth it out with the blade and I rented I paid you know time money knowledge experience I didn't have any of it so I pretty much just covered it and some of that because I don't know what I'm doing with this and I don't know how much food I'm going to be able to grow so like I had no you know it's very difficult without having in in northern climate Michigan winners common you're not going to be farming then would you do between that fall in when you're gonNA start growing in the spring well that they were really excited about that idea so you know if it wouldn't have been him it would have been somebody else or a group of other people and it still would happen one way or enough so hundred and forty dollars and I rented a big hits you know like the size and the power of a BCS but it's only function as the road until by the shares in that Sia say what was your initial plan in terms of where you're gonNA try and sell those CSI shares to my initial like my my real studying and learning learning and research of how I was going to like how I was actually going to start and ahead of time when you don't know what that Lens GonNa Produce I hadn't even had a soil types done yet so I didn't have any idea but it's it's a big south movie self-propelling powerful Tiller and it gets like ten inches deep and I went over that a farm for doing that for me for helping me grow up as quick as I did but Joel Salatin talk a lot about how he doesn't like farmers markets you're in left it there didn't put a fence up until spring but that that winner was when I started doing all of my would've worked out it would've worked out good for him no matter what just because of the effort I was putting for and that it was an interest in a lot of people's minds and a lot of people showed Travis Schuler farming became a mode of change because prior to farming Travis described his situation is hills farm they do a great job there they've been around for for many years they do a great like fall petting zoo and Halloween and fall harvest tearing the timer on that farm or work-sharing time onto that form I didn't at the time because I I really liked a lot of what I heard Joel Salatin Talk About Myself I knew if I overwhelmed myself I'd be scared away from farming and that's what I didn't want to happen I wanted to ease myself into it one little bit at a time so a lot of people run into at the beginning where who are my customers where are they and just because you decide on a model well that's one thing you gotta find people to hurt myself or stare myself away for did you have an idea of where you're going to try and sell your CSI to this is a big thing I think here's his his idea I guess I could say was I I looked at what what ten there at the farm had done it at all it was called upland it didn't scare myself away and and you know that was my biggest fear before going that whole winter before two thousand fourteen you know would she was when I was telling us that garden I have come I've grown a lifetime since then and it's you know thankful you know grateful for that they people just come to talk and people aren't really there to buy anything at the time I just kind of took it took his word for it and I was like okay well I'll just focus on CSA this first year that and that's what that's what you know from the from the beginning I had just planned on making at the first year just to see us a and and not trying to overwhelm fourteens growing season that whole winner was just filled with the fear of not being able to do this and work hard enough or I worked too hard a growing thing at that point did you have an idea of what your business model was GonNa was gonna be what's it gonna be just because that's what you had had experience with electricity back at the spot where you could guard and I felt like holy cow like this okay that's you know that kind of that kind our own more than a couple of couple garden beds a handful of crops it's very difficult trying to set up a a scale of business on limited land had all these people driving out into the country to get to them you know every every Saturday so my idea was but they have their their market guard and then there's CSI and something. I realized they were out in the country and they didn't do a drop off they had five foot wide 20-foot-long beds two foot pathways and and his model was that on four thousand square feet of bed. That book really really flourishes but it was because of those master charts where like I modeled my garden after John Jevons as you can grow an entire family or one person's entire diet if you grow compost crops you know to to feed the rest of the style but there's a major portion of the back of that book they have categorized as the master charts knowing that you really hadn't grown commercially professionally at that point was there some nervousness of I don't want to sell too much I don't want to it was in the book and it has its place in the world mainly low income poverty stricken areas where they don't have income or money I bought that book probably in December of two thousand and thirteen before I ever started marketing for the CS by like mid April and I had all my money how are you making the people in those areas aware of the was a website called and John Jevons book how to grow more fruits vegetables nuts berries That book I mean you can say whatever you want about the method or the pardon and you you build fertility while you do it so that was kind of what I modeled after but because of the five by twenty foot bed so at the end of the summer I didn't even have to have a social media or a website I could've done everything just from local harvest and I paid thirty dollars for the sponsorships say I hadn't made the website or anything I was researching all of that I bought that book and you know but at the end of the first season I had already realized like okay is double digging and then when anybody mentions double digging it seems to Kinda John Jevons and the grow bile intensive thing comes up I went with that and that allowed me to just use the master charts and sit there and on grid paper I still have these stack the I'm never going to double dig again and I'm you know there's a whole lot of stuff that I'm not going to repeat that I did this you're only because it was in the book I only did it because into market the CSA directly towards those little pockets and try to find people that are only driving you know five ten huge massive stack of grid paper where I you know drew page after page of all of my beds and the garden half the garden on one page one the local harvest that was what that was what I'm pretty sure I asked everybody and I think every single person said they found the local artist they've got ta you know and and and so they are they don't have income or tools or access to the right machinery or tools that they have time and that's what not getting anything I was hoping you'd as something like that because I really I I hear a lot of a lot of negative talk towards lurs and hosting and and that was it pretty much sold all my shares the winner for that initial essay how did you size it leads at most to get to their drop off point to get produce and I mean that worked that were flawless I I was sold out in my CSA over promise the essay motto itself De Risks Some of APP but at the same point in time you don't want to tell people you know sorry in Oh you're out of luck Ed page had them all marked out you know by the inch by the foot and had everything planned out by like see and that bumped my listing up to the top of the list and that was all I did I had I had thirty dollars marketing and maybe like fifty dollars be wary of how much food I could fit into the garden how much food I could fit into this space what my averages were what a good yield is what a low yield is it tells you I was just I just had an open the other day looking at those master charts because it's just an invaluable collection of information that their team has in a tremendous resource either even here we are you know four years later and three years later and I'm I'm still opening that book has been gathering and putting together for decades so you believe or say whatever you about any double digging or wall of that it tells you how much seed is going to be used per bad I mean they tell you how many plants you can send into a bad it's just love how did that first year ago running the farm yourself for the first time on your own in full production mode hard work gardening method but that book is priceless simply for the master charts in the back of it and it really did allow me to plan the entire garden out and scale it figure out how many shares did you use the five foot by twenty foot beds and do you still use that no I I have I have realized that I'm going to kill myself trying to stretch over five foot beds for the rest of my life so luckily with this new property I wish I would have provided more for my shareholders I do not I didn't feel at the time and I most certainly do not feel now that I gave them what I mean looking back on it it went great I mean it was hard then also looking back on it I wish I could have two farms that run CSA's since then and when they tell me what they charge for full share I'm just I they paid for as much produce as I should have for the money they've paid it was not Tsitsi Essay I've talked to I can't even believe how little some people charged for a full share and they're giving their shareholders more produce than I am that doesn't mean that me or the you were able to do some smaller beds so I've got like half the garden in thirty inch and half the garden twenty four and the crops grown will decide what they go in I I may have been this leading with a with a couple of terms that I at the time I didn't realize like it was a ton of apple trees on the property old growth apple trees that at that time it was two thousand and thirteen that was a bumper year crop it was crazy doc ease of picking right so that first year now you have the a planned looking those master charge you have the PSA shares soul not realizing how to replace it quickly enough You know I I was growing an enormous variety of stuff most of which had getting from my boxes every week they weren't having to go down to the farmers market and it was somebody right in their own neighborhood that they met we are doing something wrong and in that I mean it's just if they're able to provide that and they're still making money and I really hope they are I have a hard time I have a hard time people were happy and some people shared their their you know unhappiness with me on a couple of different occasions we can talk about that well yeah let's you know I guess at the same time as even though like you could go to the farmers market and buy for forty dollars probably by a little bit more produce than you were Araya of heirloom fruits vegetables and herbs I mentioned that there's greats and apples on the property and there there were it you over promise like with what was going to be in the CSI No I didn't I don't think I over promised I don't think I over talked it never grown before I had no experience growing in a lot of it I mean I never started from seed so much of it I never started she'd so it just yeah apple's ever ever came I told people about the big grape arbor's and and that year every great before it right then shriveled up and a little brown weekly basis that was you know that that it was a news starting farm that they were helping get started and I mean they not all APPS share was an every other week drop off where you came every other week pickup your boss says about thirty seven fifty ish for a full share per week there were forty five varieties that went into the ground and we're started in the greenhouse not all forty five varieties made it to the best ooh still excited about the idea farming at that point yes and no I had I had definitely there was one incident I was experiencing pests pets damage really for the first time cabbage worms and cut worms I was experiencing crop loss early on with our circle back to that but why you said you didn't feel like you provide enough value why was that where you have issues with production in the field was at the end of that year running that CSA having those struggles in the feel did you make money at the end of the day and were you people were going to not realize what I was saying I mean you know we'll like I mentioned in that that I have forty five different with one shareholder on the last week of the year and we can talk about that that was really what you know I just listened to you this morning talking about LCS's share it was six hundred full and a half was like three twenty five over how many weeks is that sixteen okay on the fifteenth shares down to tension that would have have made me a lot more comfortable with the amount of produce my shareholders get it's like wouldn't you know it the next year there was like one apple on one tree it was just a and here I did tell people about the apples and know at a lot of failures and a lot of issues along the way which is you know kind of what you're going to stock but IF I could change one thing it would have been to take it for living they are making a whole lot of money with the say it may just be a way to kind of like you kind of get like an interest free loan at the beginning of the year in one sense who are you charging for your any time I was I was getting getting right back into thinking about next what can we do for next year Mer at I mean it shattered it shattered my psyche you know I was just I was messed up for a little while after that and yes she yeah I mean the apple trees were completely filled with apples all over the property I thought this was amazing even if I can't grow anything they'll get tons of apples you know and and raisin you know and I didn't get a single great I didn't taste the grapes off the arbor until the second year so you know there was there was a lot of issues really she really cut me deep and she was trying to and she definitely succeeded well knowing that so that's at the end of the season did you still have tenure on the land ah were you still based on the experience from the two thousand thirteen season saying yeah this is what I wanna do let's start looking forward Oh yeah I didn't I didn't working on the farm building the tiny home and going into Detroit everyday for work and it was around that time that I asked you I was thinking about going elsewhere and he he talked to me a few times and mentioned he wants he liked the idea of me staying but let me we started you know we found a big trailer and started construction of our tiny home that we were planning on moving up north because we have it did not have any clan of not doing it and and if anything the land owner head even Egged me on wanting me to stay not looking at your comments on your youtube or on your youtube page and not getting involved with any of that and I totally get it because I had one unhappy cost we had thrown everything in because we were coming up to the end of our mortgage in November so we were looking at throwing everything in live here on Sunday and he he went for it so that was Kinda like the end of the season the money on it it's bad mistake but a good learning cheering nonetheless but so so coming into the end of that first season I was pulling our little trailer back to my roommate for a tiny amount of money and moving into our tiny home before that New Year you know and and that was a total lifestyle change that we were not I mean it was it was a rough a rough transition because we were trying to finish the hall the tiny home and move in that's the one thing we didn't touch on I mean this whole time you were doing this you had a fulltime job run to put in a little bit of infrastructure on the farm but then also build a tiny home on wheels so that was something we started midsummer then pose the question what if we stay that water electricity already down there right next to where I'm building what if we paid you monthly and we just let me rewind just a little bit I forgot to mention that at the beginning of the season the whole goal of the essay was to get enough money for gauge in August so it was just so much going on and I mean I was ready to take a good long break but I didn't get that break until January what little bit of money we had we bought a little acre of land with without really thinking about doing a whole lot of research that blew up we had the salad eventually lost a lot I'd say it was financially it was feasible to scale it to the point of the Dean Financially Essay Drop Offs and then where I was working and that was subject to change at any time you know I did moved all over the place working all over town where I had to leave at like five in the morning in order to beat Metro Detroit traffic going south and into the city you know so come fall a midsummer it it was Kinda like I'd probably be there there was probably two to three days had host the ideas of the land owner gave me permission to build it on his property and you know with the idea that we were going to move it but working as a general contractor and it was a far drive like you were driving what an hour and a half each way or is that round trip to work depending on where I've met you know so if you don't count Labor that you probably didn't pay yourself or on the farm that first year would you say it was financially viable are your that first year how many hours do you think your spending on the farm that per week it really I mean spring was a ton but Gov and know that okay I'm onto something something's going to be possible here I hadn't convinced myself that we could do this and later on that season when we did move into the tiny home but that was I mean we had three major things going on that summer all at one time there was a lot of burn out at the end of the year and we had gotten in is out of the week that I wasn't that I that I didn't go to the farm at all you know it'd be just based off of you know I happen to be working on the other side of town that day and I'm not driving anybody out there if you have the freedom and you don't know until you talk to your boss find out if you can just come in early and get your work done earlier and leave earlier and just stick all of the now I don't have any business background I don't have any farming background so it was all new it was all stuff I had to learn going there was the one drive I mean it was seventy miles one way and that was over an hour and a half I hit you know any data traffic I got to the point could potentially do this and what we learned was that we could actually do this and it was last year that you know we started making a good amount of money financially until last year but that doesn't mean like I wasn't still willing to continue to try year after year until I figured it all the way past past my house all the way to the farm and then all the way back so I would planet you know my week was planned around you know two I mean the and I knew like I went into it and not expecting to make a profit you know like they put I also didn't invest hardly any money into it and that also had a big role to play aw it will point then did go from a means to an end to barely getting by on the farm to where you really saw it start to take an experiment a research of ten we do this can we live in a tiny home and farm and work our asses off and make it get there really early get my work done and then leave early and that's Kinda got into that habit and I've been sick and with that habit ever since that's a good way to go eight more money and it would have been easier to jump in with that being an income early but for me that wasn't supposed to be an income early it was supposed to be very little money doing it and live you know below our means can we do it you know and that was the whole the whole experiment from the beginning was just to see if we can money and I'm not talking crazy money but if you had ten thousand dollars in that you could have put into the farm knowing what you know now where would you have put it knowing where you didn't market and we started building a customer base and that's when I started started realizing the potential in this that okay you know if we can do this with a single you know thinking back on it it probably would have been direct cedars and would have been Greens harvesters and Wednesday fabrics probably would have been and back then in two thousand and fourteen ten thousand dollars would have been crazy money to be putting into my far had it I mean you know we're going back to a time when I didn't have a ton of experience doing what we were doing so at that time I'm I'm glad I didn't ah the BS that is the morning and afternoon to you in any metro area that's been the bane of my existence for my entire career food the markets there to sell it on and and we are sought after commodity there is way more demand than there is supply when it comes to small local reduce the amount of time it took me to grow food than I could have grown more food and Saul Marin made more and all the way down the loan well no you also ten by ten ten on our second year trying to sell prudence of that particular market then we should be fi- I mean as long as we can grow the food it'd be not making profit if I would have invested more money and a little bit more time in the marketing and finding customers I could've grown more sold more I'm rich markets that that one bad experience was all I needed to to for the Times at the time I said well I'm never going to do in by this stuff and and you know those resolves don't tend to come to everybody that spends money on farming equipment but if I if I essay gap because of that one bad experience but here now we are going into a new farm where like I've got all this new art with regard to having more capital of front and initial investment where do you think you would have been better off putting money in upfront if he had the oh absolutely wonderful wasn't you know Joel Salatin just doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to some Michigan farmers market that he and the increasing harvest into the winner and increasing the amount of profit I make off the same robbery how's the farmers market experience been for you have ten thousand dollars to spend I mean spend a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't be using today I would have blown a lot of it on on crappy ideas that I was sold on because and and I mean granted I have more money now because I've got you know I moved up in my company and I'm making more money at work but it it still I mean it's really difficult I'm just I'm basically scraping by as the spring goes along waiting for those first couple of weeks at market so I can start love doing anyway I already love talking about the garden in about food and about sustainable ad I love talking about it and it turns out everybody at the farmer's market anybody some money back and you know it's just I I've I've managed to get everything pretty much everything I wanted to buy this spring to make spring and farming a professional mall and professional we block and maybe you know your system that probably would have been a big plus coming into my stand anyway turns out to be that kind of person to and you know it's just it's it's an absolutely wonderful experience being able to infrastructure that needs to be built all this stuff that needs to be bought and things that need to be paid for and I'm doing all of that this time around just with my own money ah instead of it's a wonderful experience like if somebody doesn't want my food doesn't like what I'm talking when I'm telling them that happens everyday people step in and see the the farming magazine or an online you know or or a video on youtube or somebody claiming to have amazing results with this thing you just gotta go marketing the banners they say what is they see it and they obviously know well this is something different than everybody else here so they come in and they say what in the summer easier and that will allow me to make more money the first half of summer that money I make in the first half of summer can be spent on caterpillar tunnels and road covers you know and yeah well okay maybe maybe another time and I never see him again and and that's okay but that's the wonderful thing about the farmers market is this I'm GonNa do a couple of drop off and I'm GonNa do them in busy you know busy popular affluent areas and then I'm going her went because you know at the end of the day one person saying they don't like farmers markets in general does not mean that anybody else is not going to be able to just do phenom- farmers market for me there's a thick lines are on where the farmers market attracts in general I end up with happy customers because people aren't buying go down there once a week and I flip that switch and I turn on and I don't shut off until I get back you know and and and talk to people about my food and I didn't realize like Oh so when I go to the farmers market I get to talk to people about my food which is what family at and it turns out that I do really well at the farmers market I didn't know that I had this uncanny gift of Gab that I could see you know somebody came and doesn't like you they only spent a few bucks and don't like you they may not have spent any money at all instead of that person that turns out to not like you what is this I mean I get that question all the time this what is this and I turn people away I started talking to them about it and some people don't like some people turn around had experience with the CSI the first year you mentioned selling at farmers market farmers markets later on the genitive just dissolving the PSA switched just gave you three hundred thirty dollars and you know it's not happy with what they're getting by so that's kind of where where the CSA and the I mean when I'm on on on and on communicating and talking the entire time trying to get to know all of my customers and you know unless they're that certain kind of person that fits into the niche that I'm marketing towards it has that been really which helped show you that there's a path to the future here is the success you've had at farmers markets oh I mean it's not I I had I had absolutely terrible successively first farmers market four when you're trying to assess a farmer's market to determine if it's going to be a good one or not so good the location I mean that's and they completely crush the market because they've got you know dollar Bundles Kale and dollar heads Broccoli and big baskets tomato for they don't want that he you know and that's where I come is I me and my wife are a saving grace for a lot of people because again I would not sell the Jackson Michigan Farmers Market I would make no money nobody wants to buy inexpensive up and then the second week I made twenty dollars and that was in before gas I mean we brought all of our food up there or maybe we sold forty and You know it was it was pretty bad but I only I only did one bad week like that I had that second week at that market from that point on bundle of Kale or an extensive salad mix and Jackson but there are going to be farmers there but those farmers are going to be a huge huge farmers they've got lots of money auction where there's big distributors distributors there that are buying up truckload semi loads at auction of produce and then distributing into the route dollars it was twenty a piece me and my wife each took twenty dollars you know in my twenty dollars went into my tank and probably didn't even cover the gas to get all the way up there made it possible for me to make that jump at the end of the season and buy this property haven't seen if different farmers markets and work them would you to be able to live off of the happy with that I was I may have thought differently about what I was going to do with the far but but my success last year got a couple of employees along the way great it needs to be smaller and more personal and and as long as the economy doesn't take too much I should that's GonNa be huge you know the area that it's in how how how how fluent of an area is because my you know at at two thirty three am on Thursday morning you can drive the eastern market like as like another farmer and go and do the produce always have that market they're kinda go after because there's a lot of intelligent consumers that see the big farm and the dollar Bundles Kale and they're scared away from me Straw and the the grocery stores in the area well those same people that and have the quantity this so that the food distributors are also got boost setup at market I said no I'm not GonNa do any market that isn't making enough money to be happy and that was Kinda last year was my my tester I didn't do good last year but I didn't make enough money hi Griz workers everything's mechanized and they're pumping out you know they're they're sending here in the Metro Detroit we have the eastern market troy that's where like the is if you're going to sell at it you're going to sell it markets and you know like like basically like the town I moved to the city Jacksonville all they see are the big far on and they don't see the little hole so which makes it easier to sell I think you were telling me before we chatted to now you're at a point where you can't meet the demand that you have oh no it's it's if I had if I had the ability bucks and and I can't compete with that at all so you know and I don't even really want to I want to stay smaller I wanted to be a small family run operation if we need to grow twice as much I on twice as much stays I would do it but I just you know everything I'm able to do with he is aware that we want to start phasing out because I've got this dream to do this this farm and he's not GonNa give me a hard time about it he probably having my you know my father's company that I'm still working for the that I'm trying to keep things going in it's you know I'm not the point yet where I can I can tell my dad that I'm going to quit I'm gonNA leave him hanging I'm not GonNa do that yet it's small family company the thought of it I guess I mean at this point are you happy with how quick the farm has progressed or house slow the farm has progressed Johnson situation to have to be in you know to to leave your company that taught you everything you know you know for for hang and some of the tools that would have gone into making my life so much easier you know but I didn't and and oh well I've learned from it but if I had she she could have done that same thing you know but but here we are well it's it's family members also worked for the company I mean it's me and my brother and my dad and my uncle are the main workforce in the business and you know it's it's take to throw it all into this little garden to try to make a living on a little piece of land you know it's it's definitely definitely a scary thing to be doing but it's up to a Lotta people about it I say you know if only I had pulled my head out of my but three years ago and just spent some frigging money on you know org just maybe figure out a way to move a little bit slower and learn some of the experiences and some of the lessons along the way when you might learn a lot of people are trying to do this over the course of a season in your your four years how and your you still have the other job and you're still doing this they don't they they were farmers they stopped doing it you got a job in the city he moved back to the city and it's like rather than the failure I'll just move a little bit season have like one season to make everything happen and they invest all this money into it I wish they had the opportunity to move a little bit slower or once we start having I mean that's just the time in your life to do it so why not move a little slower in these things and be able to enjoy your one chance at the the first couple years of marriage without kids and with out running to this you know like why run both businesses business and and all of that that all of this that I've been witnessing for for the last eleven years could could really be reduced well sounds like it works for you I mean don't get me wrong I don't like driving seventy miles in Detroit line with I don't have I wouldn't say like I'm either terribly happy with it or terribly I always talk to people and I offices and in therapy rooms trying to work around the sick and the dying I I mean I've spent the last eleven years working full-time it's a difficult thing when if you were to walk away would throw a wrench in everything you can't do that yet and that person sacrifice able to go on vacation so we're not going to be able to ever do this again once you start having children you know we'll never be able to experience vacation likely code in our late twenties and four on feeling pain in my elbows from years of doing this so I'm realizing now that like yeah it's not a matter of ad would I have had too much produce that I started neglecting my dad's business you know and then what kind of outcome does that have on his life and my other a decade practically teaching you from the time you were a little kid how to do what he does you know so it's just I'm too family oriented in community base V that kind of person to walk away from it completely but I also like I feel bad for the people that have to start it all in one all around on Birdie nursing home floors I'm a hands and knees you know working in in people's you're happy with a lifestyle that you have it's not like you're trying to run away from a job that you don't like the balance between the Jew or doing both in parallel burned out the on the point of the come back from and you say well farming's not for me I've heard that a lot I've heard that a lot on a lot of podcasts people saying that they were in nursing homes almost exclusively so you you see a Lotta daft you see a lot of misery a lot of hopelessness a lot of sad you know I'm comfortable doing both of them it's a matter of my body will physically not be able to do construction the rest of my life and if I don't do something I the addition of community you know and the building of community and I just I can't think of any other way to do that any better way to do that then starts be to sustain you in the long term by just working it up on a part time basis absolutely there's no question in my mind contracting will kill me you know it's GonNa kill me eventually if it's not physically leave you know hurting myself on the job and it's going to be breathing in the fumes and the toxic I don't know maybe maybe it's because I grew up working like labor and I grew up working hard but I beauty which we wouldn't be able to do that if we threw everything in you know and had to go in this full speed ahead we're at a time in our life and we're or cancer or an autoimmune disease and they're my the rest I shot because I didn't make the choice try to start phasing myself hello going out to eat we like going up north you know in in northern Michigan up we like going on adventures and Sheen natures not enjoy driving all the way into work and doing something that is not natural for the human body to be doing you know running a Jackhammer that's not natural for your elbows to be taking that kind of shock and now at this point in my life I'm dealing with you know numbness in my hands when I'm working in the garden trying to rake and firemen or increase the number of small farmers in your community to increase you know the the community helping each other out and you know it's just I side that's their side hustle what are some things that's made it successful for you to do that in terms of either a productivity standpoint aid right now at the same time when we're trying to have a good a good start door out of good happy beginning to are the rest of our lives and I guess it comes down to I mean you're lower it's okay you don't have to you know that can be some of the fun twos is being able to have fun along the way you know me and my I don't I don't see I don't see the like I see farmers putting in these incredibly long days and yeah I have them if we don't get anything better than we got last year she'll still be able to make more money than she's making you know at at her job now what are your thoughts on Jack that I'm going to be taking in and getting on my skin every day and eventually that's going to you know reveal itself as a team or do this successfully just having less total time on the farm you know like I hear a lot of people say don't grow too many and what is your body is dealing with that we or that day that's for me like that's I need to get out of it because literally generally do this don't do this standpoint crop planning standpoint like yeah I only grow these because at the time I have what's allowed you to arm the summer because I mean even if we don't get any better profit than we did last year which I know we will this year but if we had lesson when you throw it all in and now like I talked about earlier than you get scared away you know so you throw it all in much bigger chance you get you're still working every day you still got something to do around the farm but Y- I mean there's always something to do around the farm and it's never the worst never over that's never going to happen but it it just I I don't know I think because people throw everything into the basket and they have to oil so they've got everything they need but still soil composition has a lot to play in that an the factors that go into it so you know I find that now and I don't and not to say farming's easy but as these when you run your own foreign you have the freedom and the ability to choose to do different tasks depending on have to bust your butt like a dog to be able to make it happen all on the spot when you throw in every every egg into it but I think that but then I also don't get stuck in contracting because I put too many aged the foreign basket and that didn't work now I'm stuck scared away tail between have them all spring but a lot of people what I don't hear people talking about is how it Kinda does slow down quite a bit on summer hits you know and I mean yeah listen if somebody's in your position they're working job full-time they're trying to seriously grow in scale a farm on the starting slowly and it and it being a side income and a side hustle but you don't have to I don't know I mean that's the that's the Nice thing about he's you haven't had the time to work out the you know little micro differences between crops that make it make or break results across all of his yards I do not see that I see big differences in the plants that will grow healthy by themselves you know grow healthy I hi take soil samples and correct the deficiencies in the soil. I add nutrients that undefeated on all organic raw and then minutes I- mineralized onions do really good in the soil. I don't know why but onions do really good it's like carrots each turnups those do not do very good I feel this common like there's this common you know human condition where it's Oh shoes what works for me I found this I would say you know get hit literature that has the like I mean I don't WanNa be clog for John Jevons Book only I'm sure there's other boats out there that have charts and I'm like that but if you're starting out you cannot beat John Jevons girl thing that works for me this works really good that means that anybody else doing anything else is doing things wrong because I'm obviously so many little things you know don't don't just do somebody else's garden stuff don't just go with what somebody else said to do because it worked for them

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