Nate Parks raises twenty acres of vegetables at Silverthorn Farm in west-central Indiana, and sells his produce to restaurants, a custom-packed CSA program, and at an on-farm store.
We dig into the nuts and bolts of how Silverthorn Farm works, with particular attention to how Nate has used the scale of his operation to break into the restaurant market in Indianapolis. Nate also describes the system Silverthorn Farm uses to manage his unique on-line ordering system that allows members to pick what they want, when they want it. Nate also shines a light on the strategy he’s used to scale up and equip his farm, and how he’s leveraged employee involvement to do more with his farm than he could have done on his own – while creating a work environment with excellent retention.
Along the way, Nate shares the story of getting his start as a pumpkin farmer, losing everything in the housing crisis, and rebuilding the farm. It’s a touching and empowering story.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
A lot of the supply going into them was urban farmers or smaller farmers, where they’re going to focus on greens and micro-greens and that higher value stuff… but they use a lot of beets, they want potatoes. The one guy uses seven hundred pounds of heirloom tomatoes a week. You have to have some production to be able to supply that kind of demand.
I feel like the whole system is what makes me efficient, and I wasn’t able to get the benefit of the whole system until I was able to purchase it.
Timing is so critical [for weed control]. When it has to be done, you’ve got to get out there and get it accomplished.
It’s about having the correct pieces [of equipment] at the right time and the right people on that equipment to get it done.
The 75 members who didn’t come back say we are just way too expensive. The people who are in it say this is incredible, are you sure this is enough?
Here’s the Quick Cut Greens Harvester Nate and so many other growers use to harvest their salad greens.
Silverthorn Farm uses Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler to manage their CSA custom ordering system.