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Establishing Your Market

Brad Johnson


Designer agriculture; learn how to develop your farms clientele (Farmers Markets, CSA’s, Wholesale, Co-Ops etc), obtain resources on where to run ads (web, print), communication, pricing and value added items. 


Brad Johnson

Owner and Operator of Wooley Farms in Gridley, CA



  • January 26, 2017
    10:45 AM
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So again my name's Brad Johnson and. We're going to be going through a status in your market. So just so you know just because I'm California those really are tomato plants. I think so. This will be as long as that last session I had if you guys have more questions. I don't take as much time on this one so establishing your markets. Designer. Agriculture developing your farms clientele farmers' markets the essays wholesale co-ops resources communication pricing adding value. Which comes first the market or the product that you're asking. Alan. So with the Better Business. For us we started with growing products. And learn how and what we wanted to grow and basically did both simultaneously over the last forty years I spent time on the phone calling buyers driving truck doing fruit stands selling protrude side out of a pick up with an umbrella or under seed tree. I would I develop the route of places that would buy from from us over to the coast and back. That when we had no certification organic certification just a one. That then we had no server organic certification just a one or two paragraphs page explaining our practices but we would sell to all who wanted our product. So in case you. This is just what we did produce we gave this either to our wholesale. Or anybody that we sold to that wanted to know our practices. So this what we said we are a family farm operation located seventy vials miles north of Sacramento. We hope and our program where able to bring a product to you with its finest potential of minerals in zines and flavor our program of building the soil includes compos rock this manure cover crops occasion for applications of kelp and other natural elements if needed. Insect controls obtained by using beneficial insects mechanical or physical means. However if spraying is necessary. We use natural occurring compounds weeds are controlled by using mulch mechanical and physical cultivation we do not use synthetic fertilizers or compounds. We have been working with commercial scale organic farming since one thousand nine hundred five each year we learn new things and make improvements we hope you are satisfied with our produce If not please let us know we welcome any helpful suggestions. The me that's names out equipped. For what we do today. It just didn't in the meantime tween then and now there's a whole bunch of paperwork involved. So this is just a picture me. All I'm I think I'll probably haul in water holes in the stems Cisco. On a one ton truck. Get ready go in there. And. Probably one hundred twenty hundred fifty miles on there were there when we first started in the seventies we grew organically in the local people didn't care so much. Just want to chip in fresh. So we found we could sell or truck in a sense it's going to distributors and get better prices there wholesale than retail at local So that is where markets developed so we learned what pack. What the wholesale markets needed. For example. Our pack of heirloom tomatoes is a ten pound single layer. The market is much more forgiving for an heirloom packed than slice or tomatoes because heirlooms are are not as a uniform tomato. But still. But even still as the market is more competitive the quality is is still important. And each commodity has its pack style. I don't know area the area around the U.S. But I would go to the market in your area. Like I would go to my market Myer and find out what was being grown wholesale and look at their pack decide how to what they wanted to receive it at and that's how we did it we pack a cucumber pack a twenty five pound cucumber pack and then it's all sized. We have large medium and small and if you cover a cracker pretty much the same zucchini. We have medium. Would he call the middle one. That's in extra fancy. And some burst we do small medium and large are basically you know we call fancy and extra fancy in mediums. It land is by size and weight and count. So we do either twenty or twenty five pound box and it was an eighteen to twenty four count per walks on the standard packed Roma tomatoes. We do by size weight and color and then for a while we did this little clamshell pack and if you knew pack like that of course you're you know there's another regulation that you've got to do if you close the box close the package then you need a U.P.C. code and. And labeling and all that if you put it into in a into a package. That that's that barcode it's underneath and you got it without the put that on the bottom. So when you did they scan it. It would be on it. Keep the package. Not what that what there are now because we got away from that probably. On and on. That's right twenty years ago. So so you have to buy it you have to buy a register whatever to get your code and all that stuff and now it's come back again since the food regulation. We've got to move back into it again. So for wholesale we look for the quality of pack and do our best to provide that for our customers. Over time we became more reliable and better growing in packing our and our packing systems. Our markets begin to recognize us believe again to learn who we wanted to do business with. Who we could trust and they to us and for us because organic demand was growing and that was our practice and that continued to grow. Eventually we got acquainted through our sales with a produce salesman who wanted to make a change and came to live on our farm and do sales. Then he transitioned into a full time broker in his own business with a partner selling our farm products as well as other farms products. Prior to that I was doing all my own sales as well as our farming and harvesting business but is been a great relationship between. Our broker and us a real trusting friendship. I recommend to find people you can trust in the marketplace. Find your produce distribution place in your area and get acquainted as a possible place to market your produce find out what type of packing quality is needed for your markets. How do you establish that. Well what well yeah what and I'll I'll get into all of it. So what happens if what happens if you do it if it doesn't work that way. Well what are and maybe it's not answering the question quite but what we've got eliminated by it with our broker. We have he we trust him. I mean he's private in my opinion he and his partner price on the best in the business and they're just phenomenal. They not only they not only so our product but they sell whatever we produce is not like you know we used to what we used to do is we would go with gross gross stuff. And then we like one market we had we get easily outproduced what they would take it's almost like oh we got twenty boxes. OK We got fifty of sorry. And then you had to start bouncing around what they do. He does he. So he's our focus and then he goes like this to the market for our products. But in answer to question what can happen is so there was getting to is he so then he filters it out and they have out of their paperwork to they fill out with their buyers and in order to established you know if they don't pay or that kind of stuff but yeah we've had in as later on my presentation you're one of the bad things is early on you didn't know if you could trust somebody. Sometimes you. Make a sale we sold one company for thirty days and they went bankrupt. And thirty days of produce shipping is a lot and they were down in L.A. And you know we went down to see it was going on and you know that because of their doors and. They were gone. You know those are money or you know. So those kind of things. So finding people you can trust is in how to establish that. Yeah you know you might you might interview other people who do business with them you know or find out like you would employ So you know who you know you maybe have they have a record. You know a bit better because of you or I'm not sure but we have not really gone that route scholarly Well that didn't work out. We're not going to give them any more. You know it's been more high. Or Noxon lot of ways. And you get to know people you go to go meet him face to face and. You know you kind of gets stabs that way. So. So currently regarding pricing we rely on our broker to sell but we continue to keep in touch with the people who buy from us at least some time some way during the year with personal visits to their offices or store or inviting them to our farm for a tour or so that we're not personally on the phone with them as much. So we need to make a special effort so. Since our We've kind of this is this is our broker here since I do business. He does our business fourth what we do now because we know our buyers. We know who he does business with because we used to work with them directly. And so now what I do not on everybody over basis I will go see them sometime and visit him face to face or at invite them to come to the farm and see what we're doing and coming now this bigger picture. I put in part because. We we did this last year. Cucumbers and part of our as if we're doing wholesale and pricing you know you've got to have a quality pack. Because you're selling retail basically at wholesale level. Because they're going to put on the shelf and they want everybody to look at that it's going to be perfect. So we went to. We went to string up our cucumbers this year we used to go on the ground and ham pick them off the ground. So this year we shaded all of our cucumbers which a cloth and we strung them up just like we do our tomatoes and it made a great difference and we could hang them so here you see a picture of them hanging and I have my wife picking we put these covers on our own carts which keep it shaded up all day when you're picking as well as a seat. Above the above the cucumbers. So it just gives you. I'm doing everything I can to make. The number one quality pack because we're not we're not read. We're not selling all of our were thrown away everything else pretty much. So in Garda pricing. That's part of it so that I'm kind of same pricing is knowing your customers and getting pointed with your outlets who you're doing business with so they have a personal relationship with you and they know you know when they say no then it's a little harder for my thing. Even on my own I try to make friends in the market. Some places publish prices so if you want to look for pricing how you going to stab your price. There are prices. Sometimes are delayed like that some of the government services you can get charts of produce a list of what's selling in the marketplace and what the current prices are but you don't know for sure if exactly the quality. If it's apples for apples. It's right. I'm sure they try to be. So I talk to people I talk to people I know and are willing to share with me. So sometimes you find somebody in the marketplace that maybe you're not so what are your competitors doing. If you want to look at that way who you're competing with and what are the prices and you can't just call up your competitor and say you could I guess they what are you selling for. And and so we're dealing with a lot bigger companies. And they'll publish your priceless. So we can get those so we can see like we're growing as a cabbage. For example. We can see their list of pricing and weeks they're OK this is where the market is because we're not going to if it's this is it even quality in pack. We're which can be hard for us to compete with that because they've got volume and we don't have a voice so we've got to find what are edges and so least we know the price that helps. And so we know what we're dealing with how we're going to price our product. So all the see. So knowing and being friends with your customers and knowing what. Your own costs are to produce something. Good. If you don't know what your costs are you don't know if you lose money at that price. So that's the other factor you've got to figure out what it's a cost me to produces things. And and produce prices changes quickly we sometimes evaluate our priest on a daily basis. So if we're because we're hiring people and we missed a doctor just going out there picking everything myself and say well that's free labor. You know I've got people I'm paying every day. So if I'm not paying that cost in the box in the shipping in the overhead and I'm picking for them. So all of this price. You know might change tomorrow but we can have a general feeling over time where that's going to go in the season. If we're starting at this price now we're going to be later. Crop. So if we're doing a true crop pricing there they remain more steady. It changes more an annual basis so for peaches. You know we establish a price pretty much once a year and we. That's the price we get per ton. And that's that's there's somewhat of an independent agencies on that like for prunes we have association. So it's an independent group of people to get together and try to establish a price between us and them and the processors or the marketers or the sales group. So we have come an independent marketing what you call a bargaining group to the markets. And then we can try to separate the price where we're going to sell our product for that that using remained steady for the whole year and then it's reevaluating on the next year. Same thing with peaches. Pretty much I do that. I'm on sales of prunes because I sell my own perms as well and we kind of try to save his a price at the beginning of the season and we say here's where we're going to be. And there's other growers in there. We kind of so I I'll kind of try to figure out what the other growers are doing in the marketplace. I'm small so I don't have a lot of leverage. So it's. Yes yes. Well electric crops we don't I don't go back to it. You know when we step that price we figure that's could be for the whole year till we get our next crop season. Vegetables. Yeah. We're not as much involved with it now because we have a broker that we work with but we're working with him every day every day and then I'll call him sometimes on a set. Hey where are we. What's coming up this is what's coming out of our field next week. You know it's either going to be this or it's going to be this or whatever it is and he's he calls every day for estimates and we project forward and then we do it daily and then when we ship. You know the pricing we're trying to and then so we have a we try to establish a bottom line where we were going to work what picking we can have excellent quality in the field. I've I've worked up crops in the field beautiful stuff but we don't have a sale for that it's going to pay. So I just I'm done. Well it's going to be it's going. Yeah it's going to be your quality we we've had our buyers tell us that we kind of sometimes set the standard for the pack and that's not always the case you know we have other places that we sell to that will take a lower grade. So we can we can move very our pack. But a lot of the edges are personal rights you're going to see people talk to him live. No we are all kind of get in that will bit more as I move along or some of things we do to do that. So I say as a small girl. I don't have a lot of levers so staying on good terms. Learning to know and trust our customer goes a long way to being able sell as well as getting a decent price. So this is a little bit of something we've been talking about and I want to be aware of. I don't I don't know if anybody needs to worry about this too much. Maybe you do but you will at some point if you're going to sell wholesale to markets. It's to some markets because we have received an extensive set of questionnaires outside of the gap which is the food safety in the our agriculture practice from our buyers. So they're wanting to rate us as growers with accomplices. Hansie set of questions above and beyond gap dealing with a multitude of areas such as water use pesticide use environmental concerns nutrient use record keeping air quality knowledge of pest and we need. It I'm telling you. Conservation be care energy use greenhouse gas emissions erosion control cultural practices so all management recycling type of packaging waste water management water conservation health and safety for workers and work environment fair labor auditing etc. And then there are then their rating us to their customers. This is a way I think some mark markets are giving their customers or better knowledge of what they're supporting when they buy products from us or from a certain purchase at the store. Right right. So their customers come to the store and they have a certain rating of all these issues. I'm buying this one or I'm not buying this one. Mr Mark. I suppose. Right right here. That's right. Yes yes. So what come some what many companies do is try to give customer a reason why they want to buy people may then look beyond just price and quality as a reasons to support you such as I just told you about those things. Some do this is so you may have seen some of the commercials of this type of business that do this they try to make you feel good and give you a bigger reason to buy from them. I just saw recent. Mercial last week doing that trying to make you feel good for buying from them and all the good things their customers are doing by shopping there. This is you. Yeah yeah yeah. So yeah. So this is a this is a market that's promoting their local growers. This is one of them here. Showing where their customers are getting their food. So yeah I've had I have good and bad stories to tell regarding the market. Some of the bad delivering watermelon after agreeing on a price delivering it quite a distance unloading it into their bins by hand out of my truck and getting it all unloaded and they say that we agreed on a different price something less. No no no no this is years ago. At a conventional you know we're just we're just trying to sell melons and whatever we were we could never was you know it's another thing happens sometimes we ship across a country and a product you get a get rejected it's not necessarily you know that's just something that happens you know it may didn't arrive at the right. You know whatever reason maybe it was one box on that pallet that they pulled off but it could have been you know they just didn't like what they got you know and they said no we're not going to take it. We just pretty much a loss to you to go to Denver or to wherever else you know from California is that sometimes yeah but that's why I say most people we work with now we don't even bat an eye. If that's the case it was probably a problem. We just say fine. It was the problem and we just move on. Yeah I think it in general I say this point we do. We deal it's a pretty good companies. So selling on consignment sometimes only getting enough to pay for the walks it's packed in. Company Like I said companies sometimes buying produce for thirty days and then going bankrupt. But some of the good markets giving us a premium for quality and actually givings a bump up over the market. And paying us at the top of the market keeping there and paying us a price. It's a you know the top of the market and keeping their word. Even though the market price goes down. We've had that happen. Significantly to us due to a great degree really advantage. You know where the prices dropping and they said no we're going to pay it. What we told you was a really good thing. So something could consider going to see your buyers not just by phone. I've traveled from California to Atlanta to meet meet regional buyers as well as locally to keep in touch. So we meet the buyers at AG conferences or at their offices. We've traveled to to a chain of stores. Up north in Oregon and made presentations to their staff about who we are and what we do getting acquainted so when they received our produce they knew it and how to educate their customers about us so we went up to it's a group of stores who sell to really nice group and they've got maybe fifteen stores up near Portland. And the manager said Come on up and talk to our staff. So we did and I went up with our kids. We took a low presentation. We went to their produce departments. Met with their people that worked in that store in that produce department. That's all a lot of different stores in the area and just show them what we are he said want to be better to do that and come to our customers because in our our managers can educate our customers to come in every day. So that's what we did we went up there and just talked to them and showed you know that met with them and looked at their stores and other stores what we've done is taken. Actually physically taken. Our product to their store in San Francisco we've done that where we'll go and in season that men are buying products from us go back to their produce room cut up our melons take them out to the produce department. It's from the grower showing what we have getting a taste of what we are buying at the store and doing it that way and with this is to the customer so well we'll go to the store and give samples of what we grow at their store and this is just a service that we did for the stores. So here will do this for you to promote to the market and so that's we've done that several times in different things. You know whether we produce so we took we took our our dry prunes and our fresh plums same product you know ones dried ones fresh kind of educate the public but they're buying both of them in one. It's different departments one the grocery ones produce but still they're educating them where to what we haven't and shown what to buy from from the stores. When we have a large volume of product the best way for us is the shift to a distributor. And we've got acquainted with very size various sizes of distributors that commute with us from smaller to larger volumes and back to smaller as the season progressed so for example. Zucchini. Yeah. So just with an acre or two of zucchini. You know you might fluctuate from two hundred twenty to two hundred blocks of the day I mean a few acres of Acre two and as a season progressions progresses to a fluctuating peak and down again. It needs an everyday pick for sixty eight weeks or more. It's weather sensitive for yield and size of linked in girth. I have measured and drawn examples of the change of sizes from day to day to shore workers to emphasize. Of picking clean and looking for each fruit to keep our pack size in the fancy and regular size not mediums. And for another reason. If you don't pick every day and the fruit gets big in the vines fall over. You will be. They will be in the way of your feet and make it difficult to pick. So use you when we decide not to pick for any length of time we're done because of the cost to pick off the large fruit. So the vines to make the vines recover and by then the vines lay over and take more time to get through the field. So we're picking every day and sometimes when you look at our field crew out there. They're almost up to their go up to here and into Kenya. And are and are picking belt is right up there were that with them because our we try to get over vines of vertical not lay over if they lay over there in your way in your feet just keep him there. We have a variety that pretty much displays itself right up the top and it keeps growing. That way it comes out so it says here I am pick me. And that's what we do. And don't let him lay over. If you don't you don't let him get big you let. We plant. We plan a mother's get more of the culture of it that's fine we planted we plan about eighteen inches apart and five foot on the center and then we we walk through every day. Of course pick on them and as they grow. You know some might lay over and in the crew kind of move them a little bit but once they if they get up this high and they're just vertical and you let that fruit size and it lays over and it does it in the whole field. Then you're just and you've got to pick them off and let them recover pretty much we pick zucchini until we're done. And if it price drops down that is the price drops and we're done then we're just done and then our crew goes out they like to pick them. They like to pick them like this and make pickles out of them. Sugar Sugar Sugar. Whatever the sugar mills Dannie they can. They way for you work it out. We want to get to write it. We grow of ready called. Yeah it's a hybrid. It's a hybrid variety Oh well. So so if you're if you're wondering about sabbath on zucchini is that a question that you thought nobody nobody asked me that. So look you know I'm telling on myself a little bit but we what we'll do is now we do is we will pick twice or we pick real hard on Friday. We pick down two of extra fancy. Because by Sunday. Very small like like wrecked. Well yeah I mean there's it's a subtle there's a subtle difference. You know you can see it when they start to. Yeah the flowers can still hang on I'm not too much. Yeah. Sorry. So yeah. Morning afternoon or or we pick a late night depends on you know we so many things are so awful. Besides just pick and zucchini. So we try to but we pick with it takes a seven man crew to pick zucchini. And so if we have two crews go and it takes fourteen people but you know that's ideal we pick. We cook on Friday we you go through with two crews to pick a group and pick really quick and we pick small and we have knives and we have some of the girls that can have learned how to twist them off and then the we trim the ends. So every every zucchini gets a gets a cut clean cut. Yeah well you can get they don't want me picking out. There on. Yeah we just have a little homemade thing we did. None of it shows up here where am I OK. So we've sold at farmer's markets as a way to give our girls experience and get to know the community but it has not been for us a way to move much produce in our circles or make much money. We do know growers who have tailored their crops exclusively for farmers' markets and done very well and with that with getting into very good markets farmer's markets could not take a large volume a one time for us when the harvest is that peak and use the what we did not sell was a loss for another day another sale. So say for example watermelon or Ambrosia you grow a lot. Ambrosia that's that's an everyday pictures like zucchini like is like a type of camel up and you know would take a. It would be nice. The fragrance would just fill the mint markets or to put all the way down the street but if you didn't sell him you lost them and then you needed to sell not just you know if you had an even just on an acre to a watermelon. You know you need to sell a truckload would sometimes just order the whole semi load to come in to replace say just bring me the whole truck and we loaded up with Bin shipping we can't you can't do that at the farmer's market. You say hey just to me that's him on a low twenty bands on there or whatever twenty pounds and you can't. So that's one of the things we ran into now we have another guy that sells at the farmer's market. He's grow peaches and he do. It's all he did was do markets and he did like some of the really good markets so peaches for three bucks a pound and. You know move his whole crop like that but he had maybe five acres of peaches and he would just he would grow as peaches at intervals because of peaches you can scatter that out and that work pretty good. We sold local ripe at roadside at home fruit stands farmers markets were not divel. So in our time former markets didn't exist when I first started very much. That was relatively new after we got started. They kind of developed in the cities and that kind of stuff so we we hadn't developed that as a norm. But I think this is my personal view I think that was selling just wholesale is not enough. Because. In general if you're really going to maximize your form because you're just taking out the premium finding a place for your ripe or choice grade at retail or processing of some type such as drying or canning is a way to capture more money from what is grown. I think the best sweet spot for our size of produce growing is doing a combination of wholesale and local sales with fruit stand either from Farmer roadside in C.S.A.. For ripe or choice grade fresh. Possibly even marketing the farm with education or farm events the public will pay to attend such as for schools and people groups so personally I would like to have some outlets for our sins are a ripe fruit. And we have in the past. But we've got to move all the wholesale and I think we're losing a lot of money of the money and we still the local fruit stands they come pick it up from us and they take it to the fruit stand. We don't you know now we did the general store for a year or two and Judy would sell local crafts that people in there would make and bring for her to sell and then produce in the store knock on things but it didn't seem to move a lot of volume for us. Unless you were to keep at it if we'd been at it for say twenty years. I don't ten years. I don't know. Pretty soon you get a reputation and it and you make it the thing that people want to come to because I really think that a lot of people want to come to the source. They want to go support the farmer they want to talk in fact me as a as a broker farmer. Selling my own produce seemed to be a leg up from just the broker because when the fire broke when the produce markets talk to me the grower that seemed to be one. I don't know something they wanted to do I guess. And want to talk a farmer where you got you know with us. Yeah. So we end up given a lot of way. Our work what we do we set everything out that week that are on the packs you had on the table and the workers get first take home they get to take whatever they want and then people come from the community and we kind of try to heads out a little bit and you know we don't get beat up. You know BE TAKEN come in and just take in everything you know but that happens. Yeah that's right. Right on near a place or so we developed a C.S.A. for a while and I think it could work well for us as a secondary way to move produce and develop local markets and relationships but it definitely adds another factor of detail in management for someone I jokingly say I have a C.S.A. I grow it put it in a box. Put it on a pallet. Load it on a truck or ship it to a store and people come and pick out what they want it really is rather efficient. I have mostly work on growing high quality produce to pack as much as I can for wholesale quality for retail stores and try to compete with products that require the same investment and labor as any other form or some small specially of some kind. Not this. So this is your care. This is I was I was there. This We're working right alongside this field when we're harvesting nuts down and near Bakersfield. And this kind of opened my eyes because I was growing carrots and. And these are square mile sections of land. All organic because this is out in the desert and there's been nothing else used on the land until it put water on it. And so they grow carrots by the Square Mile and the Harvester comes and digs in with that machine they go right into the trucks and they haul them right in to be processed. Now that's for a processing to care. You know they do the little ones or whatever else so you buy those in the stores. You know it's the money lover. Graeme way or or both houses that need Bolthouse I think. And you know it's a nice product but you know there you go. So again as I as I said you can develop an economical market that will buy carrots from you if you can develop an economical market that will buy carrots from you for a price that pays for digging in washing on a small scale that could work so I am not discouraging that but. Know your cost and market in my opinion you're not going to compete with the large farms and stores on price. So the added value would be customers who want what you have want you to have it want to have a local food supply or a flavor type of freshness they want a good place for Farmer's Market C.S.A. or retail we have some carrots that we grow that we love and we can't get them in the store. So we grow carrots that we really like. So co-ops we are members of grower co-ops they have been a good way for growers to pool resources and concentrate more on growing rather than processing and marketing. Some of the early cooks who are what my grandfather helped start in Montana to organize buying and marketing power with the grain growers there. My dad was growing orchards of walnuts and prunes and later peaches here in California. Working in grower marketing co-ops for for prunes wallets and canning and marketing. Four peaches. Each with separate management and grower boards. They have provided a good way to to work together as growers to poor resources for marketing and process processing. Processing. We grew up being a part of those and continue to be a part of those as now as well. This can be a way to concentrate on the growing side and not worry about the marketing. So our peats our peace grower co-op is a bunch of growers a got together when the peace market was terrible and then have a sale for their crops. So we pulled together and bought a cannery. And we've expanded it out to buying a tomato cannery. And now it's destroyed. You know it's canning and distributing of it with you know fruit cocktail and tomato products in California. So just as an. If you want to know where to buy your tomatoes or your canned peaches. If you buy in in your. Stores. From like your your major stores and you buy their house brand. Let's think. Walmart you buy they're great value. Or growers or say Safeway It's was a townhouse you're buying or peaches you're buying from a grower co-op in California that has pulled together and we're canning and we're putting labels around. Whatever label you want on our peaches. You have private label so we do all the privately when you buy tomatoes products. And you're buying a California grown. At least a lot of majority thirds of all the ones that I know. No no. So this is a conventional peak. Yes So I'm in a partnership with my brother and we grow these in a forum as a committal Ph. Yet they have that they're now doing so. We're considering we've just been in talks with them about doing some organic peaches for them. Which would go to the processing side. And so you know they want they don't they're finding they don't have the demand that they have more demand than they have product for they're getting peaches. They can't they can't get enough grown organically grown peaches. So we're trying to see what we can do to fill that slot. Tomatoes that. Can you do both. Well you can I think you have to you have to you know you go in with your inspections you've got to do you know record good record keeping and all that stuff. Yeah there's there's all kinds of so when we do our prunes. I'm all my friends are organic but we also have I've come visit with my brother and so we have to follow you know for going to we have separate bins we have separate we have to document our washing of all of our harvesters and everything we do has got to be follow certain set of rules to move into an organic field that kind of stuff so. So anyway that's the thing that you have to wash and document your washing Yeah you can you know I don't do that I use separate bins for my harvest. So where are we here move down oh yeah there's a picture this oh this is our Kiwi we don't do those anymore this Mike a couple my girls and a friend of their were out picking Kiwi together. Markets are there. It was too full too full We we lost our we lost our Kiwi crop. We lost our vineyard. To two times over a space of ten years from what winners. And so that we just didn't replant the third time. And we did we did we sold our own Kiwi and then the market dropped the where was not real look at it to keep going and so will a lot of people pushed we did because we lost our field and then and then now the market's good if you'd stayed in it and you toughed it out. You'd be doing well right now because people are buying put give you back in. So it's a move. It's a change off our. Yeah make you feel good makes you feel good about buying them right. So here yeah so I'm just a few comments here as a contrast. Because early on the prune co-op was not interested in marketing my prunes as organic This is back when we were we were caught up out of step of being laughed at that. That's what the organic was kind of like we were the net. We were the net cases in the industry. So they didn't want to buy my or gang prone so I sort of selling my own and I withdrew my acreage out of the co-op and I've been marking my own fruit arranging my own processing and sales since then I fortunate live in an area with smaller processors willing and with a quick mint to help me out. Like I say my brother and I continue to work in a co-op to market our canning peaches. It provides a good way for us to market them. I can explain some more those details whatever I can do so here is a very small Kiwi market. We were part of a very small Kiwi market grower co-op. We farmed it because we had a lot of us most Kiwi and is for much the same reason we're trying to pack. You try to do your all your own packing and marketing. Men it was a practising for me because you set up a PAC said and you buy all your packaging and then you have all imagery of packaging left over from year to year or G.R.U. and I volume. So it's better for us to form a co-op and we we we pulled our resources and we had one packing operation pack for all of us organic growers because that was in the thing I took a little bit of organic fruit into a. Processing plant they didn't want to mess with me. So by going together and and putting our stuff together the pool. We could organize and and work together to get our stuff back and marketed as small growers and we did the same thing and then I got out of the Kiwis I'm not part of that anymore. That's still exist as far as I'm marking co-op and I'm primarily your fingernails. In this case you don't want to scratch the skins or or or food safety things can change that that was the fourth would see if the edges could protect the fruit. Those are cotton. Those are just the cotton. Yeah yeah they're pretty itchy fuzzy and rules were braces kind of the in the vine. That's my dad. When he took all his hair off. He had cancer and I think he just cited to take his hair off and leave it all whole time. Was that Mr Clean. So here's here's another little thing we did we marketed through trade shows develop clients for our products. I split the cost of this booth with another farmer he was selling windbreak trees and I was selling Kiwi nursery vines for vineyards. This was a local trade show. I went to other larger trade shows and took a rented R.V. so my family could it in with me for a three day show. So this. This is early on. So most of us do and I started with Kiwi vine Vineyard when I first started because I didn't have a lot of land but there was a high demand for plants and so I just grew from seed grafted and dug them up by Doug and Barrett and then I did trades used to sell it and we developed you know that. And that's how we did it. We just because to get people to see is if you go to the Larry farm show in California it's huge you get horse after a three day just talking to people. Pretty soon you've been talking all day long and you make sales and so that's what we did this was a promoting kiwifruit I just put that in there to to grab attention to the to the people who went by but with them. We sold our own kiwi fruit later. So I grew all my own plants. For my own vineyard and I sold plants. Also what I had extra. And that's how I got started because I didn't have plants were expensive. So I thought well grow my own that's expensive too so. It's busy with my learning curve so but I had a pig pretty big learning curve there. So for me the value added is doing and being close to direct sales. You know I we've we have we have places in the marketplace that would like to maybe buy from us a value added products that we have presented to them on our own that features our product but it would have to go into a package and we sell over thing bulk and non packaged but they said when you get something that we've taken samples don't we. You get something come to us and let us know when you got it. And we just have pursued it part of the you know going through the hoops we haven't decided to do that. And what it is an option and there are a lot of room in some of these realms that we've found once you have a place in the market that people see you and recognise you. It gives you an avenue. Maybe to present something else and that's kind of what you know what we haven't gone there yet. Yes You know what was it was like did you just wait a minute that's the one I have on. Yes. Yes. Oh. Oh you know what to grow and what to do for farm Mart. You know. Well well and maybe that's part of what I've been trying to go through is the process that I went through to get to here. And that's what I've been explaining is we've been through all these avenues from just haven't grown something and going OK what do I do with this and starting to roadside it starting to go to stores starting and I took I took a truckload of stuff to the coast and I started meeting people on the road on the stores and I want to cross and they started buying from me. So they would buy from me again as I go. Doing this or something like that where you make contacts so as as I've done that and then going to the wholesale market and looking at what they've got so if if I knew what I wanted to grow or I knew a realm of things I wanted to grow then I would go OK. Who's going to recognize me. And so that's why I say which comes first the product. For the market. You know we did both we said OK I want to grow this. I like doing this. Can I sell it. And then I started going to the markets and I saw what tomatoes and Kiwi nursery because I could grow this I could make. On an acre of ground I could grow. Maybe six thousand plants and sell them for seven bucks apiece. That was a two year project but for me living by myself at home. I mean I didn't have a lot of overhead and so that worked OK. And then as I got gained a little momentum made some sales. In that got my nursery most of my stuff established that's kind of the process. I went through. But I don't know your location. What would you be growing. What would you want to grow. What is what would grow in your area. If yours. If you're growing something. And then where would you sell it. Those are the questions I start asking and in my case there's bigger growers. So there's big grower co-ops I could go out and plan a wallet orchard or a peach orchard or prune orchard and there's somebody there is going to want to sell it for me. I would be selling myself. But I could probably sign a contract to say OK we'll buy it you may not be you may not know the price you're going to get but there will be a sale within the market that will happen and you'll have a home for your product and then use that to fine tune your growing practices to what you think you can compete with you know what how what are your fish and sees you know are you going to you know do you have you going to do with a hoe or so were you do with a tractor. You know and then that's kind of divert your market to and I've I'm not minimizing the smaller. So I'm momma. I'm in a squeeze. I'm probably in the squeeze. Between small and big and we're getting squeezed and is getting tougher and I don't know whether I'm going to get smaller or get out. Well. Well bigger is for us in some ways Vegas big maybe for this seminar for what people think we are but if you look at big in agriculture we're not big and I'll get into some of that I've got some pictures here of a farm that we worked at or worked at that is big very big and we've been there for thirty years. You want to see big. So I don't know if I've really answered your question. Very well because I know what your I know what you're thinking. And in the process. I'd be doing the same thing you would be doing. But you can you can call me. Tell me what you're doing. Tell me what you're doing and all the other. Yes sure. You are. Yes And you're starting to I mean you're not starting from do you have somebody else come and be in front of you not know and this may be a little bit discouraging. I look at my position in farming as relatively early in the game or late in the game. Late in the game. So in California my area. There's other farmers have been there for a lot longer. And so they have a bigger base and farther you know head start. My dad came in the fifty's. That was relatively late the farms that we've done. There's other growers in that area a Kiwi grower that moved in who had never farm before he's what relatively new comer. He's probably been there for at least thirty years now he's carved out a pretty good place for him so he bought a farm developed it as a Kiwi in got in the packing. But he had a value added business that would not just for growing he started packing for other growers and expanding his base by building his income from packing. Take an income from that. So some in some cases like we did we we moved into custom harvesting. To give. As an alternative income along with our system we already had. So I'm thinking we're working within a system that exists that we're doing and we're expanding that into the same areas that we can generate income from. Yes So for example as a small grower you're not going to want to buy I you know going to buy a lot of equipment. But you may you could hire somebody else to come in a new part of your work and you're not to have all that overhead expense. So that's what we did for other farmers. We went in harvest their their crop form because they didn't want to buy a harvester. So that's an option too but I don't know. So I'm trying to you know you're in Oklahoma and I don't know Oklahoma and California. It's about anything. You know you've got a wide open space to grow something in California. And California also has markets. So I don't know what your markets or you know and in where you are. You know we like I said when we when we started growing organic the local people didn't want to buy from. They thought we were not and they thought. Now we just want cheap food. We don't want that high price organic stuff. So we went to the holes market so we said hey you know this is it yep pick me pick me bring it over here. So that's what we did. OK. So maybe there's other places like that in your area because now I see you know some of the younger generation like you my kids. They want their you know here's a here's a thing that I heard from one of our gals of what works in the management of our co-op she says we think that we're going to have to supply our customers fifty percent organic in the next. A few years. How we going to convert our growers to organic production. I don't know that's true or not but that was stunning to me. So there's maybe a room in there and I'm all for us to or not but when I look at the younger generation sometimes I think maybe that's what's what's gone too. I don't know. You know that's. And I'm not necessary thing and that's the only way to grow stuff but that's kind of what we do you know I think the of conventual market has moved to what it is because it's sufficient. You know it works. You know and you can produce of them fairly to be the best thing over in the long run but it works. I don't know. So I you know I may be getting some ice. So my view of things is I don't necessarily I find it. I'm wide open to some I guess when I think of small growers trying to get started. I think it be. I don't know what to tell you. Well I'm thinking in terms of. Forming in general I think when you look at you've got to look at your markets obviously but. When you try if you try to compete on a. You can't compete on price if you're going to go to a different type of growing method you know you've got to find your market organic conventual you're not going to you know lease the way it is now you're growing and I can say you grow feel tomatoes and you're getting paid forty fifty bucks a tonne for tomatoes for feel tomatoes. You know what is that two cents a pound. You know something like that. Three cents a pound. Maybe you'd be happy while I got sixty books done this year and now there you go. So that's pretty too. You know. And that's feel tomatoes machine pick ketchup sauce whole peeled diced salsa all that kind of stuff. So you have to carve your out so far out a spot. And there that says you want my product. And this is why. Yeah and people want. I think in this case a sort we're going to they want to be connected to the farm. And we're helping them establish that base they want to know where their food is coming from who we are and how it's grown and that doesn't happen in the conventional market. So I think there's a difference of what we've tried to do to establish our place and even if we're not there. We're in touch with the management to does that and we've also gone to the stores and said Here we are this is who we are and that provides them. That's a reason for the whole to the produce markets to buy from us because we've gone to the stores and they say what do we want to support us for now. Yeah right. So we're going see I'm seeing your eye and I'm like you know I grew popcorn for fun. And it's a great popcorn. And so I use that for gifts. Well it's a lot of work but it's fun to get the result of it. And yeah. Oh yes. Yes Yes So and so we do stuff like that for gifts or whatever with so it's not like we're taking them. So we're going to our customers say Here have some prunes I mean that's nice. I like prunes but you take the popcorn are all taken some homemade bread so. So it's come in odd deal here here here we're going to these here we're going to these big fancy buildings going up the elevator. And we're going into a a door you can't go through without permission and we go into an office and we take them home a Brit and they think it's great. We're all just people you know then. There's another. That. Well yeah. In some in some places because we on our vets will side we gone from We've been cut down we've gone from thirty acres down the five. But even a five acres. It's a lot of produce you can move a lot of stuff and five acres I'm we you look at our growth dollars on five acres on a good year. It's amazing. It's incredible. I can hardly believe it. Sometimes myself and I go wow. But you know the net out of that the net out of that is like well it's still good but so there's a lot of dollar flow but the net. You know like you might produce all this dollar flow but then you what you left over. Not that much. So the margin still there but you know you do a lot with that dollar flow. You know it's you corporate your life with it. You know so five acres Yeah and some I think you. You know on you look at one acre you think. Well I could I could go on a work on want to go. Myself and probably do pretty good. You too much and I'm not talking. Yeah. Yeah I think I think to try to give you a number right now. You know because you know we're the vegetable side the hard part. We have is in Costa County is trying to take a lot of the overhead and dividing it out to say orchard with and and vegetables but. Trying to you know I'm trying to trying to get a number for you. That would. What's our overhead with your thing and so on a per acre basis or. I would say ours is a lot less our operating expenses are a lot more than fifty percent. Yeah. And I talk at other growers that we're somewhere in our business and they were saying that they maybe would keep three or four percent and I you know I'd say so I'd say we're probably close maybe more like ten percent brings business that range this media was brought to you by audio first a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse. If you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.


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