Color Fields Mid-Season Review
Because I farm year round, January and July are the two big check-in times for my business. Even if you don’t farm year round these are still a good time to reflect on the past six months and make adjustments for the next.
My process falls under a few keys areas:
Review my original schedules and compare to reality
I don’t know about you, but when I make my planting and greenhouse schedules in the winter it is obviously with the best of intentions. Inevitably, weather happens, life happens and things get off schedule.
I try not to be too phased by this unless there were serious repercussions. More than likely, my schedules were just too ambitious for what I can realistically get done. This is an ongoing challenge that I’m sure you can relate to. Make note for next Spring.
I use templates from the Canadian Organic Growers book, Crop Planning for Vegetable Growers. You can download them for free on their website. I strongly recommend this book for new farmers who are just getting started with crop planning. It is easy to adapt for flower crops.
Review my revenue goals and compare to reality
This is usually a mix of happy surprises and harsh realities. Our farmers’ market traffic and sales are down primarily to the fact that our market moved locations, but it still forces me to really think about whether this is the best way for us to spend our time.
On the other hand, we sold more Flower shares and picked up another grocery bouquet account that I wasn’t expecting. Piedmont Wholesale Flowers has also done better than I expected. Weddings are about where I projected.
Adjust your numbers for the second half of the year and really think critically of the outlets that take A LOT of time and/or are not producing the revenue you need.
Having standing orders is really nice. Anything predictable is a welcome relief in farming. I just recently re-embraced the age-old cash flow document and it really is a game changer. It has enabled me to take August off from the farmers' market knowing I will have enough money to cover all of my expenses.
Review my mental health and life satisfaction metrics
How crazy am I feeling? How much am I fighting with my spouse? When was the last time I hung out with friends? I know this sounds funny, but it’s for real.
July is a really tough time of year. It is hot, flower sales start to slow down, but you you have to keep going to be ready for fall wedding season.
In the south, it is just miserably hot and humid, the bugs are out of control and nobody is getting married so sales slow down. This year, I planned to not attend our farmers’ market in August so that I would have time to catch up on farm work and have extra time to spend in the greenhouse to get crops seeding for fall and next spring.
We overwinter a significant amount of flowers and unless you have been living under a rock, Cool Flowers, is a super handy little book to make sure you make the most out of your spring season.
If I’m feeling particularly burnt out, I try to remind myself of WHY I chose this career and remember this is a choice. I also try to schedule little trips - farm visits, etc. Just to take a little break and clear my head. This year I am making a point to do something fun with friends at least once a week.
This whole process takes me a few hours to complete. I block off the time and just ignore the to do list for an afternoon and go through it all. It helps me feel back in control of my farm and my business at a time that is critical.
If you are brand new to farming, trust me, it does get better, but there are no short cuts. You do have to put in the time, work smart and learn from your mistakes.
SIDE NOTE: I can say for sure, that hiring help has decreased my stress and upped my enjoyment of farming tremendously. For three years I told myself I couldn’t afford it, but I realized that unless I wanted to lose my mind and/or quit farming something had to change. CONSIDER HIRING HELP.