Type: Specialty Cut Flowers
Years in operation: 3
Annual revenue: 10k-50k
(Average over last three years)
934 Farms is a young farming business and life conceived and built on these five principles... Faith, Stewardship, Creativity, Growth, and Uncommon Sense. Our initial enterprise is specialty cut flowers with an emphasis on Gladiolus. We grow over 50,000 glads on around 2 acres with about another acre in various other cut flowers. We are currently a one full time (me), one summers (my wife who is a teacher), and one as needed (14 year old son who has his own lawn mowing business) labor force farm. My wife and I grew up on or around farms and desired to be back working in conjunction with the land in some manor when we purchase a small old farm house on just under 10 acres and started to rehab the house and land. Five years into it after looking at several farming opportunities, taking a beginning farmers class through our county extension, and not being able to make the leap of faith we had our ah ha life moment. It goes like this. On pickling day (we make over 150 jars of pickles for and with family and friends) our neighbor gave me an article from the local large city news paper about an older gentleman who had been growing gladiolus in our area for over 25 years. I couldn't put the article down for days so I eventually went in search of the farm. Finding the gentleman (Marvin) in the field nearing the end of his season I struck up a conversation and minutes into it he said "I'll sell you my business". I was taken back and so started the long conversations between my wife and I. After weeks of helping Marvin and deliberating we were very close to saying yes and considering taking the step. But I had a really good job where I had been for 10 years and had helped grow a small business into a huge success. The universe came to my rescue and on a Monday as we were still considering Marvin's offer the new GM of the company pulled me into his office and said company direction was changing and I didn't fit into those plans so that Monday was my last day. I quickly called my wife and said "well I know what I'm doing now." I have never looked back. I see it as divine guidance helping and guiding me to where I need to be.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
Our approach is to create a business and life that works for our family based on our principles. Having many inspiring organic growers to learn from but also growing up in a a small community supported by medium and large mono crop farms we don't pick sides. We try to learn our lessons from all farming best practices, experience, and our own mistakes to continue to improve not only our farm but our family life. We appreciate old simple solutions and new exciting technology and find that they can live together.
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
We don't see specialty cut flowers as the only enterprise we will be involved with as we grow and we don't always see direct marketing as our only sales option. We have started to trial ancient grains in our area on very small plots and are working on land and equipment leases to grow into the 60 acre range. In addition we produce hard cider at home and continue to improve our skills at producing an incredibly drinkable cider that may become yet another enterprise. And finally we pay attention to what is around us and what opportunities open up for those enterprises that fit and grow our farm.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
The Mortgage Lifter Lift would be used to invest in a combination of the following. Potato planting and harvesting equipment (these can be modified to work for gladiolus bulbs to give more consistency reducing labor in weed control and bulb harvest), cold frames for season extension to have more flowers available earlier in the spring and later in the fall, perennial inventory purchase for woodies and other flowering perennials to help diversify our specialty cut flowers, and finally seed as well as land and equipment rental for larger ancient grain trials and production.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
I could give a lot of heart felt stuff about how after 20 years of working in a career I felt I "had" to do to provide for my family or "had" to do to fuel my self worth I now am engaged in a calling and a career that is really all about who I am... and that would all be true. But really I just love what I'm doing now. It's challenging, it tests my physical and mental abilities, it allows me to develop new skills and showcase those that I already have. and I love the smiles it puts on me, my family, friends that get to join the experience, and customers who get to enjoy what we grow.
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