Shiloh and Jason were very intentional about where they chose to start Tumbling Shoals Farm, and the smaller cities that they chose to market in. They share the factors behind locating in northwestern North Carolina, the advantages of marketing in smaller markets, and how their marketing decisions have shaped their production strategies. Jason and Shiloh tell us about the ways they’ve made use of high tunnels and Haygrove polytunnels to increase the reliability of their cropping systems.
We also dig into the lessons Shiloh and Jason have learned about the power of having enough labor to leave them time to manage the farm, and the changes they are making based on some in-depth business planning as they move into their tenth season on the farm.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.
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Quotes from the Show
[Jason] When we left the Peace Corps, we had $5,000 and a Pontiac Grand Prix with 125,000 miles on it, where the transmission went at 128,000 miles, so it didn't last very long as an asset. But, the ability to shop for your market was the primary thing that we made a decision about.
[Shiloh] It's good for the ego to be a big fish in a small pond.
[Jason] People eat with their eyes as much as they eat with their mouths, and the experience that they have in purchasing the food has a lot to do with the experience that they have when they're eating it.
[Jason] I read in an agronomic textbook somewhere that 100% weed control is an aesthetic choice, not an economic choice, and we had based our farming strategy on that idea, but, as it turns out, that might be true in a corn field, but it's not true in a small-scale vegetable operation.
[Jason] Making the right decisions at the right time… takes time to do for the management.
[Shiloh] We like to say we started out as firefighters or triage nurses, and we're evolving into farm managers.
[Jason] You can easily come to believe that how you're doing something is as well as it can be done until you see someone doing it better.
[Shiloh] We can either move to California, or we can make the plants believe they're in California.
[Shiloh] Every year we increase our spacing on things and grow fewer plants and, consequently, get higher yields.
Shiloh worked for Alex Hitt, and mentioned his name several times. He was featured in Episode 023 of the Farmer to Farmer Podcast.
Shiloh referenced Jim Crawford’s experience of tripling bean yields just through irrigation, described in Episode 024.