Each year our cherry tomatoes get HUGE! We have been trellising them each week to be able to walk through the paths and to be able to find the tomatoes to harvest them. It totally looks like we are wading through the jungle to find the treasure buried deep in the brush.
I have also been wading through the jungle of information this year for my business such as branding, marketing, pricing, sales, etc. This month in my coaching program, Abundance Cubed, we are reading books from several business owners who looked outside the business jungle so they could do something that didn’t conform to standard business practices. One of these books is Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard who owns Patagonia, an outdoor gear company. My husband worked for Patagonia for years when we lived in California and we know what an awesome company it is. We have clothing from them that is over 20 years old and still going strong. They also have an incredible stance towards minimizing their impact on this planet. Their mission statement is “ Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
This year I worked with my staff to develop Stone Coop Farm’s Mission statement, “At Stone Coop Farm we are friends with the earth and all its inhabitants down to the microorganisms in our soil. We are dedicated to being better stewards of the land and sharing our knowledge with others. Stone Coop Farm is a neighborhood farm supported by folks that care about the long term health of our planet and future generations.”
Patagonia has detailed philosophies for every component of their company. Every new product that Patagonia offers is designed to meet their mission statement and philosophies. That’s how I want to run my business and how I want to make a profit.
Recommended Viewing: Nydia talks about our pest management strategies at Stone Coop Farm and some of the reasons why we have chosen not to spray or use any chemicals on the farm. Protecting our planet and protecting ourselves by not spraying harmful chemicals is a crucial component of our mission statement and always has been.
Did You Know that many farmers have become accustom to “living poor”. It is tough to be a farmer. According to the USDA 2012 census, 75% of all farms make less than $50,000 in annual sales. It also showed that 70% of our farmers generated less than 25% of the household income from farming. So what does this mean? Most farmers work another job to support their families and their farms. Why are the folks that grow our food so underpaid? Why aren’t their jobs worth as much as a doctor or lawyer, when eating is a basic need for everyone?
But why don’t farmer charge and expect to be paid more for their food? Stone Coop Farm’s produce is not the cheapest and never will be. We are constantly reviewing our production costs. Other farmers are selling their products at a loss. For example, some farmers sell a bushel of tomatoes (53 lbs) for $20 or less. It is impossible to grow tomatoes that cheap. MAYBE you can harvest 53 lbs for $20, but there is still a cost to grow, water, weed, trellis, pack, bring to market and sell them. Then there is the cost of the tomatoes that are cracked or damaged that you cannot sell. And let’s not forget the costs of the gas, electricity, tractor, insurance, land costs, etc. Yes, tomatoes are a perishable crop, but come on, let’s be smart and charge prices that reflect the TRUE cost to the farm so we can own sustainable businesses! I don’t want to work two jobs to be able to maintain my farming fix!