Why say ‘YES’ to the Bootstrap model?

The free online version of Bootstrap Market Gardening continues here . . .

Let's compare farmer's markets to the Bootstrap Market Garden model we designed for our farm. In this model, your customers subscribe to the produce coming from your farm. They pay you, in advance, for the growing season. In return, they receive a share of the farm’s bounty, delivered right to their door. In effect, everything produced by your market garden is sold before it is grown!

We solicit customers in our planned delivery area. We meet with prospective customers well in advance of the growing season. We find out their preferences for vegetables. We ask them if there re other farm products they would be interested in. And, we collect payment in advance for the season!

How does this compare to the farmers’ market model? Here’s how our Bootstrap Market Garden model stacks up:

1. We establish a known demand for our products. Our customers tell us exactly what they would like us to grow, and in what quantities. No wastage, and no wasted effort!

2. A known demand lets me plan better. When I know exactly what my customers want, I can determine my level of production, my labour needs and my space requirements in great detail.

For example, if I know that 30 customers each want 2 heads of broccoli every week, and I will deliver broccoli for 15 weeks, I can calculate exactly how many plants I need to start, when I should succession plant, how much room I will need in my greenhouse and my field, and how much labour it will take!

3. No competition for customers. Once a family has signed up with us, we have a customer for the whole season (and hopefully next season too if we do a good job). All our veggies are sold before they are grown!

4. No ‘price erosion’. Customers pay us in advance for the whole season! We determine the price we need for our veggies to make a profit, and then we find customers willing to pay that price. Your income and cash flow is known in advance!

5. CSA Creates a ‘customer base’ for more sales. When we meet with prospective families, we get the opportunity to learn a little bit more about their lives, and to determine if any of our other farm products might interest them.

This means that most seasons, our meats and eggs are ‘pre-sold’ as well as the veggies. And if there is something they want that we just can’t provide this year, we can add it to our planning for next year!

6. BIG point. The advance payment let us ‘bootstrap’ the farm operation; that is, the early cash flow allowed us to construct a plant starting room, small greenhouse, buy equipment and supplies and pay for part-time farm help, with no out-of-pocket expense to us! There are not many businesses you can start up this way. Plus, no accounts receivable, and no cash floats to mess with!

7. Added Bonus. When you have your production requirements for the season documented, all you and your farm help have to do is follow the plan. This makes training helpers easier, reduces risk (for you and your customers) and gives a little peace of mind that you can actually pull this off!

For example, during our first season of working this model, I was away from the farm for 2 periods of about a week each. But because we had documented what tasks had to be completed each week, our farm help could carry on without me and we did not lose production.

8. Added Bonus #2. It seems to us that it is more efficient and environmentally sound to have one vehicle delivering to 20 families rather than have 20 families driving 20 vehicles to a market. CSA’s make good sense both economically and environmentally.

For Further Reading . . .

Gardner's Secret HandbookFree Gardener's Secret Handbook

Work at Home Masters CourseFree Work at Home Masters Course

Bootstrap Market GardeningBootstrap Market Gardening

Raise Meat ChickensPastured Poultry

Raise Pigs on Pasture Raise Pigs on Pasture

Food4Wealth Book and VideosFood4Wealth Book and Videos
NEXT: but we DO sell some stuff at a market - here's why

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