Growing for Market - How to Get Started

It's no secret that I believe growing for market is one of the best jobs there is. And, I believe Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the best model for new farmers to follow. Because you find customers for your produce before the season starts and get paid in advance, you can start your organic market garden with very few resources of your own.

And, because you know exactly how many customers you have, you can plan garden production very efficiently.

But what does it take to start your own CSA market garden? I put together this Get-Started Checklist to give you an idea to the timing and the tasks if you want to start growing for market with your own CSA.

The suggested timings shown here assume you are starting from scratch to build your own successful Bootstrap Market Garden. The list counts back from your planned first delivery day.

For example, let's say you plan to start delivering vegetables on June 1 – you would start planning 6 months before that i.e. January 1 (or the season before.)

You have to plan ahead to get these veggies ready for delivery

Growing for Market Get-Started Checklist

  • 6 months before first delivery (or season before): Assess readiness – land, equipment, skills, and help available

  • 5-6 months before first delivery - Set targets and goals for first season. Register your business, set up bank account

  • 5 months before first delivery - Write marketing flyer, set up phone line, e-mail, website (optional) for responses

  • 4-5 months before first delivery – Mail out first marketing flyer

  • 4 months before first delivery – Follow-up with customers, collect early sign-up bonus cheques (if needed to finance the start-up). Confirm numbers; send out follow up flyer if necessary.

  • 3-4 months before first delivery - Acquire/build necessary start-up equipment, seed

  • 10-12 weeks before first delivery – Make sure necessary help is on board. Start first (earliest) seeds indoors under lights or in greenhouse

  • 6-8 weeks before first delivery - Prepare and plant first outdoor garden beds. Use floating row cover to protect the earliest plantings from bugs and cold.

  • 1-2 weeks before first delivery - Send customer newsletter, and confirm first delivery day with customers by phone or e-mail.

  • Delivery dayPick, pack and go!

When growing for market, you also need to factor in your first and last frost dates into your calculations.

At New Terra Farm the first frost date and our planned first delivery date drive our entire garden schedule. All seed starting is timed to get the first hardy plants in the ground to give us a good variety of veggies by our first delivery day.

This is the Garden Planner spreadsheet we use to figure out our timing for crops

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Now includes Garden Planner software

Bootstrap Market Gardening, my first Bootstrap Book, shows you step-by-step how to start-up, market and manage an organic market garden based on CSA principles.

New edition includes my Garden Planner spreadsheet. Get Bootstrap Market Gardening Now just $10 only from New Terra Farm.

Or get Bootstrap Market Gardening as part of my Complete Start Farming Pack and save even more

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