Here in the North and Central Region, a group of Ohio members has been very busy hosting three workshops over the winter and spring months. Sadly, the Great Plains Growers conference cut flower track in St. Joseph, Missouri was cancelled due to an ice storm. Both Jeanie McKewan and Barb Lamborne were the scheduled presenters.
Here on our farm: do you remember the first time you dived off a diving board? Remember how nervous you were? I mean, anything could happen! You could hit your head on the board; a belly flop would really hurt. I remember standing on the edge so scared my toes curled, clinging to the end of board as if my life depended on it. The sheer force of my heart beating so hard and fast was just enough to feel off balance and that I could just topple over. I had friends cheering me on “YOU CAN DO IT!”, “COME ON!” “1,2,3 GO!”
I have that exact feeling now as I prepare to leave my secure full-time employment, and return to world of agripreneurship! This moment is what we have been working toward since the very beginning of the farm in 2012. The first two years we paid all farm expenses from our full-time jobs. Year three the farm supported itself. Each year the farm income has had a healthy increase in income from the year before and our accountant says we are moving in the right direction. Now, entering our fifth season, it’s time to jump off that diving board!
We’ve considered the ramification of this bold decision, including navigating how to find and afford health insurance, and we’ve decided that it’s time to jump. I’m willing to bet the farm! I’m passionate about our high quality product. I believe in the power of the flowers and my customers who buy them! What I do know for sure is that our farming business has outgrown me being able to manage my full-time employment, our growing customer base, and the needs of the farm.
In other words, my off-farm job was getting in the way of my growing the farm business. Urban Buds can no longer sustain itself or grow without a chief operating officer! The choice facing me is to stay secure and keep the job, or downsize the farm. If you know me the latter is just not going to happen!
I farmed full time for ten years when I ran WildThang Farms. Ten years was a long run for a sole proprietor and I learned lots of lessons, especially about the pitfalls of crop failures, negative weather events, and the stress of relying on the flowers as my only source of income. I believe that some of the challenges I faced in the 1990s and early 2000s can be mitigated by staying on top of crop rotations, soil health, and variety diversification. I am returning to fulltime farming later in life, but I get only one life so I am going for it in all of its beautiful bounty.
I decided to write about making the leap so publicly because I think others maybe working toward the same goals, and honestly it’s the only thing on my mind! Other than global warming. Happy harvesting!