Diggin’ Deeper: The Business of Farming

Hey there. 18 Reasons checking in on the Diggin’ Deeper Blog.  We run Farm Summer School with Simon (and Garden for the Environment) and, man!, things are looking great up in Sonoma. Before I get to what plants we got in the ground, trellised, and otherwise tended to, I wanted to let you know about the other part of Farm Summer School: the classroom time.

Each month our future farmers meet on the second Thursday to learn about the business of farming. This month Darryl Wong from Freewheelin’ Farm blew us away with his presentation (he also drove some students to pour an extra glass of wine when he showed us his spreadsheets detailing revenue, profit, and costs of starting a farm).  Did you know the average return rate for farmers is $0.10 on the dollar? But did you also know that passion can make that return feel like 10 x as much?  Darryl was honest about the real ups and downs of starting a farm, and told us all the nitty gritty with good humor. It you ever get the chance to hear Darryl speak, jump at it! He can really break down why a bunch of organic kale, grown responsibly, costs $2.99 in a way that makes you laugh but also drives the point home (hint: he uses Mad Libs!)  Darryl taught us all about the real price of food and the real work of being a farmer.

Two days after Darryl’s great visit, we headed up to Sonoma where our group of 12 got to work, and got to work hard! In just under 6 hours we trellised thousands of tomato plants, hilled potatoes, weeded like we were possessed, and planted row upon row of seeds and seedlings.  Here are the varieties we planted – get excited about eating it all from the Bi-Rite deli case later this summer:

Carrots: Nelson, Rainbow, Atomic Red

Beans: Tongue of Fire, French, Romano

Cucumbers: Diva

Already in the ground are eggplants, tomatoes, squash, peppers, potatoes, and flowers.  With this heat and sun, we are expecting that in one month when Farm Summer School meets again, we will see some major growth and even be harvesting our first veggies.

Note: Farmer Simon is eye-high in produce and plants, so Diggin’ Deeper is guest written this month by Rosie Branson Gill, from 18 Reasons.

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