When you hire a farmer…..

You know what you pay the skilled professionals who make your life easier?  An accountant?  Plumber?  Electrician?  Doctor?   This isn’t really a trick question.  We willingly pay these people to do jobs for us that we choose not to do (or don’t know how to do) for ourselves.   When we pay these people, we feel we know what we are paying for – the service is defined and usually short-term.

But when we buy food, we don’t realize we are actually hiring a farmer to do for us what we cannot or choose not to do for ourselves – every day.   Don’t think it’s a professional job?  Here’s what you are hiring a farmer to do for you – add extra if you expect the work to be done without reliance on chemical fertilizer or pest control.   If you see a * beside the number, it indicates that overhead prices for hardware, tools, utilities, seed, and even land are also involved with the labor.  Labor costs double (at least) if your farmer is also providing meat / eggs / honey.

1.* Research specific varieties to provide best flavor and nutrition with respect of our climate and soil types.    Find seed sources from companies vetted for quality and purchase seed / starts.

2. * Perform soil tests.  Analyze results and plan for supplementation to assure nutritional status of vegetables.   Find , purchase, and apply appropriate organic and mineral supplements.

3. * Plan for crop rotation, fertilization, water requirements and plant compatibility.

4.* Install and maintain irrigation system – or water daily by hand.

5.* Prepare planting beds

6. * Control weeds

7.* Start seeds in greenhouse and tend for 4-10 weeks before —

8.* Plant starts and seeds in the garden

9. * Protect growing crops from freezes, insects, deer, rabbits, gophers and neighborhood dog packs

10.* Build and maintain washing stations and cool rooms for cleaning and temporary storage of harvest

11.* Harvest and clean produce

12. * Maintain marketing channels (like paying fees at Farmer’s Market, maintaining state licenses, etc.) to give you access to the produce

13. * Transport produce to distributor or consumer

14. * Develop and distribute marketing materials including recipes and educational materials

15. * “Other unspecified jobs as needed…” 

Thank you for encouraging and supporting your local farmers / ranchers / beekeepers.

And, you’re welcome. 🙂