Conor Crickmore grosses a little over $350,000 on just over one-and-a-half acres in Claryville, New York, with his wife, Kate. Marketing through farmers markets and restaurant sales, Neversink Farm has developed a reputation for meticulous, thoughtful, and simple production.
Conor shares the history of Neversink Farm, including how he simplified production and marketing and increased his income at the same time. We discuss how he and Kate found the time to make decisions and improvements in the hectic and critical early years, and the whys behind the choices and investments they made.
We dig into the details of Neversink’s no-tractor production system, and why they’ve eschewed tillage, plastic, and more. Conor tells us the details about how they’ve made everything from weed control and irrigation to harvest and washing the produce easier, and how they relay that information to their employees.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
Because it was so difficult, we wanted to streamline everything and make things as simple as possible. To do that, we needed to grow fast, we needed to make investments… We had this feeling we were never going to be good enough, so we were pushing ourselves to solve every single problem on the farm just to make the farm more productive.
Creating a simple farm was the best thing we could have done to be able to [manage having twins].
We really thought we’d have to move to four or five acres to earn enough money, and that never happened.
Production went up and we had to focus on infrastructure rather than expanding acreage.
We were able to make really quick decisions if something wasn’t working… we would cut it out pretty quickly.
The more I get out of the field and manage the farm, I can look at every single process and try to fix it.
The improvements we made when we were in the field were different… we had to throw a lot of them out and change things up very quickly once we started having more and more workers.
I’m not committed to any system.
Whatever the procedure is, I want it to be as clear and simple as possible.
I need every square foot to produce. You’re going to have things that didn’t work, but you have to move on, pull it out, and plant something else.
We decided early on that we weren’t going to try to convince people to eat things that they don’t want to eat.
I know that I’m not going to do something if it’s a little bit harder… For me to invest in digging and putting in a hydrant just for that section is worth it, because it’s going to get watered better. That’s not just true for workers, it’s true for me, too.
While the system is changing, we try to look for answers that are permanent. And I don’t mind ripping them out if there’s a better permanent solution.
Our philosophy is always a permanent solution to a problem rather than a temporary one.
Conor uses the Tilther from Johnny’s Selected Seeds all over his farm.
Neversink Farm’s bunch washer gives them reliable, consistent results, even though it may occasionally be slower than washing by hand.
Conor prefers the four-row pinpoint seeder as a more reliable and less expensive option than the six-row seeder.
Conor likes the spinning wheel hoes from Johnny’s for cleaning out the pathways in his fields.
We talked a lot about the Paper Pot Transplanter, a cool tool imported by John Hendrickson at Small Farm Works.