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by Erin Weaver

Spring can be one of the most beautiful seasons on the farm. The sun is coming out again, flowers are popping out of the ground in bursts of color, and baby animals are on their way. However, equally, spring can strike fear into the hearts of even the most optimistic farmgirls. If you haven’t planned ahead, it can easily become a three-month-long struggle of breaking up hard ground, sowing new crops, and birthing a seemingly endless stream of livestock.

There are several simple things you can do to get ahead before spring hits your farm. Put these spring organization tips into place on your farm so you can enjoy the fair weather without the associated stress.

Inspect The Premises

Take a proper walk around your farm and make note of any buildings, fences, or pieces of machinery that need some attention. This is the perfect time to pinpoint potential repairs or replacements before the hustle and bustle of spring takes over. You can sort these issues out over the quiet winter season, or make plans to get them sorted in the months ahead.

Test Your Soil

You’re probably preparing for spring sowing, so now is the time to test the pH and nutrient levels in your soil. This will help you plan out potential crop types and fertilizers so you can avoid over-fertilizing and help your soil to stay healthy, fertile, and well-managed.

Start Weeding

Weeds can seriously hamper new crops, so take the time to plan out a weeding process or even get started with the weeding ahead of time. You might be weeding manually by hand or using a cultivator. Whatever the case, breaking up the ground and making it fresh is important for the health of your future crops.

Make A Crop Plan

Take some time to plan out what crops you’ll be planting, where you should plant them, and when. Some crops take far longer to grow than others (think corn and tomatoes), while some are super quick. You can maximize your space and pave the way for a good harvest by planning out your crops ahead of time.

Get Up-To-Date On Animal Health

Birthing season is on the way and you want your animals to be in good shape throughout. Have a vet check the health of your livestock and make sure that all of their inoculations are up-to-date. This will set you up for a healthier and less hectic season ahead.

Prepare For Newbies

Use the winter to get your farm ready for all the new animals that are going to arrive in the spring. Make sure that you’ve got all the necessary bedding, feed, water, and supplies necessary for your new arrivals to make birthing season less hectic.

Be the farmgirl who’s ready for spring by doing some smart organization ahead of time. You’ll thank yourself later on when you’re not running around in a frenzy for the rest of the year.

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Starting a Farmer’s Market Business

If you’re looking for a way of both giving back to the community and supplementing your income, consider operating a booth at your local farmer’s market. With minimal investment, you could be on your way to becoming a successful small business owner with the help of a skill you already have and the support of your friends and neighbors. Whether you know how to make fruit preserves, bake a tasty rum cake, prepare homemade soap, or any other number of trendy products that are meeting a growing demand for local production, contact your area’s farmer’s market management today to learn more.

The first thing to check is whether or not your state has a Cottage Food Act. From California to Illinois, states with this regulation system allow anyone who meets certain requirements and passes a food handling class to make products in their home and sell them at local markets. Although the details vary from state to state, a Cottage Food Act is the best way of introducing yourself to the market. It also provides ways for the business to expand in the future and eventually use commercial kitchen space to prepare products for retail shelves, if there is an appropriate demand.

If there is no legal reason standing between you and your farmer’s market aspirations, the next step is figuring out how much money you’ll have to invest to get off the ground. Depending on the product you are planning to produce, as well as your general schedule through the summer months, it may be possible to use each week’s income to buy fresh ingredients to prepare for the next week. Otherwise, you’ll want to be sure you can stockpile enough products to last the entire season. This is also a crucial time to determine other costs, such as your booth itself. Many market vendors choose to use a canopy style event tent, which generally costs around $200.00. You’ll need a table or two and probably a chair, as well as convenient methods of transporting your goods.

Beyond the basics, think about your brand. Having business cards made up with an eye-catching logo can keep you on the minds of your consumers, and decorating your booth with tasteful fabrics or other decorative items will leave a lasting impression. There are also the operating costs of being at the farmer’s market, though these are usually very small, sometimes as little as $10.00 per week or even less. If you have several markets in the area, consider registering for multiple markets and maximizing your availability. However, be sure you’re not impeding on other’s business. Many markets try to keep only one of any given type of vendor to avoid unneeded competition.

The last thing to think about is advertising. Although the great thing about a farmer’s market is that many people will be coming to look at all the vendors and stock up for the week, increasing awareness of your specific booth is always recommended. Local papers are often looking for interviews with small business owners. Setting up a Facebook page or other social media website allows customers to connect directly with you, as well as spread your message to their friends and contacts. Giving out coupons incentives encourages people to come spend money and get to know your products better. It’s also possible to work together with other vendors at your local farmer’s market to create special deals that combine both of your customer bases.

Getting more involved with your community, as well as making some extra money, has never been easier than by starting a farmer’s market business. It’s easy to produce local products that meet a demand, and, if done wisely, costs can be kept very minimal. If you’ve been thinking about it, there’s no better time than right now to get ready for this summer’s market season. Besides, just being a vendor allows you to build connections with other vendors and often purchase products at a discounted price or even trade your homemade goods for others. There’s no reason not to start your road to farmer’s market success.


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