This is not a story about how John makes hundreds of thousands of dollars on two acres. It is a about how John set out to grow a farm, and how and why he decided to remain a part-time farmer. John shares the way he’s organized his production and marketing to provide a financially and emotionally rewarding supplement to his day job.
We dig into John’s narrow crop focus and why that works for him and for his farming business, how he rotates his crops with cover crops for soil building and weed control, the tools he uses to manage sales to his and his wife’s co-workers, and his discovery of the paper pot transplanter system while in Japan and the subsequent founding of his company, Small Farm Works.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
It was going really well. If I had been a little bit more bold and had been enjoying it a little bit more, I probably would have really pushed it.
I really didn’t want to be an employee manager, not something I enjoyed doing. I just recognized that about myself.
If you’re going to grow a business and have employees, you have to be really organized and be a really good manager.
I think I was happiest as a farmer when I was a farm employee.
I think having a smaller set of crops opens up incredible opportunities to perhaps be a better farmer.
John lead the Grower to Grower project, a study of economics on market farms.
John organizes and teaches the Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers with three other instructors – coming up in January in Madison, Wisconsin.
At Stone Circle farm, John relies heavily on the Williams Toolbar System from Market Farm Implement for weed control, and also uses is to harvest his garlic.
John uses theHatfield Transplanter to set out his pepper transplants.
Plans for John’s favorite tool, a harvest cart designed by Dan Guenthner at Common Harvest Farm, is available at marketfarmtoolbox.com.
John and his neighbor bought a barrel-style root washer from Roeter’s in Michigan
John’s equipment company, where he sells the Japanese Paper Pot Transplanter, is Small Farm Works.