Joel Salatin [ Innovation Economics 1:16:13 ] This morning we started with the idea that a farm is not a continuity business until it provides two salaries. The first thing is to employ yourself and then you’re looking at creating additional salaries and those salaries are going to be stacked on the existing place. They’re not necessarily going to be dependent on gobbling up somebody else.
People say, “how much land do you need to make a living farming?”
Every time you hear about one that you think is the end of the line — you hear about one that’s even smaller.
Like the the quarter acre farm in Rhode Island that supports four full-time salaries on a quarter-acre a rose farm. They grow and sell roses.
The next thing you hear — some aquaponics deal that does a full time living on a shipping container size footprint.
I don’t know how small this can go but I do know that it’s primarily our creative lead creative dependent not so much land volume dependent so once we’ve employed ourselves.
how do we get to where we fully employer sells we talked about stacking value-adding marketing and one of the things that
I’ll just mention here is that we we have to take a a business approach and B we have to come at it from a and uh an assumption of abundance and not scarcity you know if you’re sitting there thinking well our farm can never get can’t even support me let alone somebody else you know what you’ll be really successful at accomplishing your belief ok it’s when we come to this thing we haven’t even scratched the surface yet here that you start seeing opportunities and things open up so as we develop in the farm we need to do gross margin analysis on time and motion studies do you know do you know how long it takes to put on a a remake a row cover how long does it take to dig a foot of her 10 feet of potatoes or two pounds of potatoes you know how long does it take to put away x and on our farm we’ve done time motion studies all industry does this all the time why do farmers think that were exempt from this we’re supposed to just get paid because we are special i mean farmers farmers are the worst assuming that because I grow food i’m special you know so i need subsidies and crop insurance and everybody needs to love me and everybody’s to pay way more for their food and all the stuff you know we gotta get out of the victim hood idea all right and and just quit being a victim and realize we have to be the change we want to see so we’re not immune to business principles which are things like time motion studies you know if you can’t tell me how many cows days your grass is today you’re not taking care of business one of our big things with are you know interns and princes you know if they’re in charge of moving a group of cows and I go and say how many how much how many square yards did you give that her today and they don’t know well then I start getting pretty irritated because how do you make an adjustment if you don’t know what you did yesterday if you go out there and you and you say who i gave about ten percent too much if you don’t know how much you gave yesterday had to give him ten percent morbid or temperament less today are you with me so so we have to we have to monitor these things we have to time and motion says we have to know where we are ok so let’s assume now that through value-adding stack complimentary enterprises multi speciation complex synergistic relational enterprises and all these things we’ve now employ yourself ok so how do we want when we look at a team at looking at our weaknesses how do we bring on people onto our team that can that can do this now the typical way the typical first place of this is our children cannot talk to you just a little bit about children because i don’t know how many people come is how do i get my kids to like eating carrots how do i get my kids to like gathering eggs all right number one more is caught then taught our children will generally become excited about the things we’re excited about if we’re excited about the average farmer is not excited about his farm all he does is mope around all day can’t get no help prices are terrible it’s a conspiracy I mean how attractive is that two kids so we’re excited about it we’ve got a transfer the passion you transfer the passion with excitement and a smile not being a complainer and a wire okay the thing is if if things are happy that we don’t like it doesn’t do any good to whine about them what’s your action plan don’t tell me what’s wrong tell me how you fixed it and we instill that can-do spirit in our children alright so from day one we instill company made work competitive and fun how do you do that alright well you take survey ribbon gonna weed weed four rows of green beans right so you tire ribbon down here and you tell your four-year-old we’re going to weave these beans i’m going to do these two rows if you can we need your road by the time but and get to that ribbon before i do these two you win you’re ready start and you start this competition and you turn it into a you turn into it to a game kids love games adults love games ok so you turn into a game of competition never give time-oriented tasks only give task-oriented tax tasks what’s he talking about never say go out and spend half an hour we eating the beans that teaches your kids to dawdle if there’s no incentive for being efficient if i pick one we’d or 10 weeks i gotta put about 30 minutes so who cares you know you want your kids to have piano lessons don’t tell me go for practice for 30 minutes tell them get this song down and you can quit if you did in 10 minutes that’s great if you takes you an hour that’s great task oriented time-oriented everything is a teacher’s dawdling alright so make it all tasks with performance-oriented we never gave our allowance I’m not a believer and allowances nobody should get adult you know money for breathing okay what you should do is incentive eyes work and things now there are things that shouldn’t be paid for like you know cleaning up your room putting your dirty clothes in the hamper that’s the you know that’s the stuff you do because you’re a member of the human family and I think we need to make a very clear designation here are things that you do because you’re a member of the human family here things that are discretionary and you get paid for it it’s okay to ask to get paid for and so our task oriented things always task-oriented and and don’t reward if you know if your four-year-old beat you in the green seems don’t reward her by saying oh well since you were so good we’ll do another row the reward for efficient one being done is not more work the reward is you know an age-appropriate whether it’s your reading a story go you know fishing at the brook skinny pimp and whatever okay but
But age-appropriate rewards alright but task-oriented that teaches efficiency
When Daniel was in diapers we go out and dig post holes you have her I have a PhD degree you might not know that post hole digger degree ok and we gotta dig post holes course he’d bring his little talk of trucks and stuff you know out and he play around in the dirt and and he would he’s like a little you know child he’d why not I’m thirsty I’m thirsty no we can’t drink until we finish two more holes that’s the way I incentivize myself to you know to keep pushing and I’m 32 I want you know but I’m gonna do two more holes we’re gonna stop for a drink of water he was about nine and a neighbor boy um you know its neighbor boys are want to do got together and they got to build a fort right boys build forts right and so so we meet you over the neighbor’s house they can build the sport with this neighbor boy who’s 8 is one year younger than Daniel about an hour and a half later the neighbor mom calls us and says what is it with your son he won’t let my son get a drink water until they finish that wall of the 4c more is caught then taught see and so we have what we have to think strategically about what we’re rewarding pray these praise praise how many 50 year olds are still encumbered from trying something new because what they did as youngsters was never good enough this is a dad thing more than a mom thing I mean what difference does it make if the five-year-old goes out and bends over a hundred nails today trying to pound them into a board you know how much money asking all those nails give that’s how they learn to pound them straight when they’re 16 if you want a partner when you’re 16 then quit complaining when the file ok praise praise praise you know first time a child washes dishes they probably miss a couple pieces easy thing just to come in and instead of saying thank you for washing those dishes what’s the first thing we say well you missed the piece there you missed it there praise praise praise ok be thankful for what they’re trying to because you’re trying to inculcate a loyal partner Stephen Covey and seven Habits of Highly Effective People he says you start with the Indian view I mean who wants to be around a wider and complained all the time ok we want to be around cheerleaders see I’m not saying you dismiss negligence and lackadaisical work but you do your your your age appropriate ok as you come up and then the next one is to let the children develop their own enterprises i know this is this metal for me when i was 10 i got my first chickens dad and mom are family we didn’t have chickens so when I got my first chickens I was the chicken man i was the chicken guru okay and I had this chicken business throughout my teenage years and I grew up cutting my teeth grow you know selling at the curb market i was up you know every single Saturday morning it was an indoor market every single Saturday morning of the year from you know age of about fourteen to eighteen every single Saturday of the year i was up at four clock to be down at current market and sell our stuff so I cut my teeth and I wouldn’t take it back for anything but I had my own enterprises again no allowance but I had my own and I always had a pocketful of money can i have my own business that’s how you teach the importance of profit for example keeping records I remember I remember Daniel he had his yet is three little banks on his dresser he started as rabbits when he was eight and he had his arm to spend to save and up ty offering i remember well one time going to town and he pipes up in the backseat he’s about 10 years always man i’m going to put you some more rabbits I don’t have any money to give away what a great reason to have a business is to be able to give money away see because his ties jar was empty sea so having that own business is critical so often we we don’t know what we want we want to be helicopter parents and we’re so scared helicopter hovering over all the time you know hover hover hover and because we don’t want our kids to hurt themselves but how do you exercise decision-making muscles unless you make decisions and the freedom to fail is the most exercise you can get on your decision-making muscles it makes a big difference in a child whether visitors come and and and the child says you know those are 50 cows out their will to undermine makes a big difference if a person comes and the child could say here’s my enterprise and I’m like I’m the Guru so when you start as rabbits we were real careful visitors to the farm somebody had a question about rabbits I don’t think about rabbits there’s the Guru go ask him so Daniels able to take them out there showing those rabbits talk about that because he was the expert see what does this do the self actualization of a child Rachel our daughter started baking business when she was you know six years old and she have all these garden club ladies common you know picture on the cheeks that over you the little girl that made the pound cake I’ve had to my garden club ladies last week it was so wonderful what does that do to the self empowerment of somebody to be encouraged like that in their own business see and so we are real big on allowing those children to spread their wings and do their businesses so so task-oriented attacks tasks in civilization and praise praise praise and their own businesses ok so so we can we move past each other and we take that same concept to everything else so what we don’t want is we don’t want employees we don’t want wages there’s nobody on our place we have about 20 people that work with us now on the farm on our team and nobody gets wages I hate wages you know wages are always a setup for tension between you know between the the worker who says he’s you know working way too much and the employer who says you’re spending too much time at the water cooler there’s always this tension about wages I like salaries commissions are you know some contractor arrangements so that performance gets paid for and not just showing up performance-oriented well you know we grew up and i’m happy to say that both of our kids when they were 20 years old had twenty thousand dollars in the bank from their own earn money okay that wasn’t allowance it was their own stuff Rachel started house cleaning business better baking and all this stuff daniel has rabbits and he did construction and other things we homeschool which freed our kids up to explore some other things and that was that was very powerful well then Daniel and sherry got married now this really throws a monkey wrench into the family business when you bringing a daughter-in-law we just all three of us Daniel and sherry and I just got back from up from a two-week oceania tore through New Zealand and Australia doing fields of farmers so i’m i’m going to steal some of their material here this afternoon as i do this and so so Sheree talks about finding your place and finding your fit see the problem is in family business dynamics when a new person comes in there’s a whole lot of pre understanding of things a lot of water over the dam that that you don’t you’re not privy to and it takes some time to realize all of the level of a pre understandings and things and the different jobs that people do and so one of the things that sherry found was that she had to look at poly face and say okay you know mom’s taking care of that that’s taken care of that dangles taking care of that Donna’s taking care of that you know nice Heidi’s taking care of that what can I do and and she will tell you if she were here today you know she went through this little period of time feeling sorry for yourself where do I fit in and then she realized one day I can never be any of them and I can’t do their jobs what do we need that I can do at the time we were selling to these metropolitan buying clubs now this is basically a a fancy way of saying an urban schedule drop . we don’t do any farmers markets and before you go off and say I hate farmers markets let me just say I think that they are a very inefficient way for product to change hands my rule of thumb is if you’re not making two thousand dollars per farmers market trip you do a lot better doing something else ok farmers markets have a lot of rules and regs I there they are speculative you can only sell what you take and so people are limited and you have to pack it all up when you get home what do you do with damaged stuff people handling it going through it and then there is it’s like a soap opera sometimes I don’t think he group that are you sure she grew that you know all this little stuff going on behind the scenes and of course it’s really a glorified social gathering you know if people actually bought all their food and farmers market to be sold out in 20 minutes but you know most people can only buy what they can carry in one hand because the other hand is holding onto you know up properly peppered and coughed feed the dog you know and and and and they don’t buy bushels of butternut squash they buy a special little baby food jar with a pretty little orange ribbon on it of you know butternut squash puree you know for bisque and so they can hey there’s a lot of any fit now if you’ve got one that you’re earning $2,000 a trip more power to you that’s a great market go for ok but if you’re not ask yourself the question if I spent the hours that I said it’s been a farmers market if I spent that creating my own marketing scheme and brands label where would I be and i would suggest that most of the time would be way further it with that’s exactly what we did so um what what happened was we had these we have these ladies coming down to the farm from Maryland four hours away and it was a ladies day out you know some people go play bridge and golf ladies went on a on a food expedition and they would you ladies day out they would come down they will stop in a few antique stores on the way down through the value supers anything there’s the yankees had carried off and then they stopped for lunch and stand come on out to the farm and they you know buy stuff they come about once a quarter they call the day before and we call the Maryland ladies and they come in these little rolly coolers you know and go in there and go to the freezers you know and most people they pick stuff out of the freezer shelves right you know what these ladies did I mean they open the door kick their cooler up against and just start writing out a little bit little out of it all that aside put it means they spent like 800 bucks every visit we kind of grew to like these Maryland ladies about 18 months into this one of them pulled me aside and said you know we have a lot of friends i think i like to meet your friends but we’ve tried to get them to come down with us and and yeah but they’ve got soccer and deacons meetings and all that yeah they just too busy what would it take for you to come to us well I didn’t want to go you know beating the pavement to them so how we’re gonna we’re gonna do huh well I guess if you’ve got three thousand dollars in product sales you know I’ll come to you I figured that would shut him up what I didn’t know was was a senior of these four ladies one of these inner city know thyself new no yang Wu get in touch with your inner being written about six books you know and she was a guru you know the next week at class you told her disciples um I found our food here’s where you sign up the next day on Thursday she calls me since we got your three thousand dollars for the product what do you know when you coming what do you do drive maybe and that birthed the Metropolitan buying clubs now delivery becomes a big issue i’m setting the stage for something here that’s really critical delivery becomes a big issue it is one of distribution is one of the biggest weak links right now in the local food system we can grow it but how do you how do you get economies of scale and efficiency in getting it from my farm to the customer you know and we all know about the supermarket system that seems to be so efficient but you know how do we how do we do this now and so back when we started with restaurants we made a when the best decision we ever made was if we were going to be in the distribution business we need to carve that out as a separate business the temptation is to wrap everything up under one umbrella but when you think about business acquisitions and subcontracting how the business world works it really is very segmented I mean you’ve got free lamps i’m looking at videographers here you’ve got freelance sound guys and gals freelance videographer you’ve got you know a freelance marketers and all these people they they create sometimes long-term but many times short-term alliances create little you know short-term contracts and and work together as a team and then they rely on the team later okay and and that’s the way the business world works so i want to think about that with a local food distribution system we carved out a delivery by the pound system in order to truly track the costs of our delivery system I don’t know a farm in the country that’s running a delivery system that buries the delivery costs in their product that’s honest about the cost of delivery every single one of them is subsidizing the delivery from the farm gate price because none of us is honest enough to look at ourselves and very realize how expensive putting that truck on the road is and i wanted i wanted wiggle room to be able to carve that off as a separate business anytime I wanted to and by having the delivery costs but we do that with our chefs the chef’s don’t like it cisco doesn’t do that you know they’ve all got exotic voices because they’ve been trained in some delay in the Swiss Alps you know what is this the delivery charge and and what and and our responses well we you know we want you to be informed about the cost of getting it to your doorstep if you want to come to the farm and get it you know you can get it at the price and that’s great but if you want delivered to your doorstep we want you to understand how much it gets to be there because we don’t want ignorant ships about that time later the display I don’t want to be a guaranteed that that’s fine just bring it on you and it’s all done so you you know you use Bennett you don’t apologize for the inconvenience or for the differences instead you educate and use the difference as a loyalty leverage I’m doing this for your benefit so you’ll be the smartest chef in the country see and what enabled us to do was as soon as that restaurant business built up enough we were able to carve that off as a as a one afternoon a week hundred-dollar this is going back you know 25 years a hundred dollars a week 3 our job for somebody well there are a lot of people that would love to work one afternoon a week for three hours four hundred bucks okay and so in our businesses what I’m trying to get to is we want to structure them we want this from the outset we want to structure them so that we can create short-term and long-term alliances with people who take ownership as subcontractors so we don’t have a bunch of employees when sherry came to the farm she realized that one of our getting ahead of myself ok so so we did the Metropolitan buying clubs so we had several subcontractors over there and about the time Daniel shere you got married our current subcontractor decided to go do something else and it was only like 30 40 families or something it took you know an afternoon a month it was a great for you know young well as a new mom and it was good for and so we so what are we gonna do she and she um and I’m if she were telling us it would be so much better because she did some marketing as a teenager and you know she was home schooled as well so she had opportunities to go get her feet dabbled with different things that institutional education don’t let you do and she was very self-confident about her ability to market and she loves marketing you know one of the biggest most amazing discoveries in the world is when you realize you know that job that you just can’t stand to do you know there’s a couple things that you just really don’t like to do do you know that there are people on this planet that loves to do that stuff i may just they just can’t wait to get up in the morning and make more cold calls i was like a root canal without no okay but there are people who thrive on that so I hope one of the big takeaways from my presentations today is to understand the the breadth and depth of what we have to do to have continuity farm businesses but to realize you don’t have to do it all we have to do is design the system so that other people will be drawn to the things that we not good at but we don’t like to do i’m going to a conference was a great little up pictograph do three circles with you know an intersection of the 31 is what you’re good at what is what you love and what is what you know and we’re what you’re good at what you love and what you know where they intersect that’s your sweet spot and so all of our life needs to be trying to move closer and closer and closer so that we get rid of the stuff that are outside of that and we focus on ourselves on where those three intersect you got that what we’re good at what we know and what we love ok when we leverage those three things and they all come together that’s our sweet spot and so one of the one of the beauties of of accounting is that it allows you to track margins and track different enterprises and so you know believe it or not our P&L statement our profit loss statement is 14 pages I mean Jackie our accountant you know she says Percy one is why is it so long because we categorize everything that way you can track your margins on every single enterprise if you can track your margins on every single enterprise what happens is we have some that are very lucrative and some that are losing and you don’t know where you are you might end up you know growing the one that’s losing the most money instead of putting emphasis on the one that’s really carrying the ball game and so when sherry came it was we have the Metropolitan buying clubs that were available so she said I’ll do it she was looking at her love of marketing and her interest in internet and that development and so sharing started in whatever it was 2007 i guess like that and she has taken the Metropolitan buying clubs from 30 families to over 5,000 families and here’s the secret we didn’t know if share you could sell I mean we loved her she was our daughter-in-law manchin-toomey she you know of all the girls that Daniel ever you know brought around she was the one to treatment i want a pic so I mean we were very it’s not like we were displeased with you know with the pic ok but you have a track record with us now if we put her on wages or salary said okay you can do this for you know ten thousand dollars a year or 15 or whatever or five or one we didn’t know whether she bomb should have a track record so what we did we put her on a commission a sales commission all the bills that come in from the Metropolitan buying clubs she gets three percent every single sale now when she started it was a few bucks today she’s created a very very comfortable passive income for yourself ok she still doesn’t she still doesn’t get three percent commission so by putting it on a commission and not a wage or salary it free both parties up in a bit of a you know a man on track little bit of a trust situation to be able to go fortunately she was confident enough to take the Commission and second i’m going to show them and she did it and my goodness all we’ve been trying to run keep up with her ever since because we had no idea what we had I mean she she’d rather you know market than just about anything okay she eats it loves it ok and so it was the it was the commission based approach that enabled the two kind of circling parties to be able to create room to build a relationship everybody follow that that’s really critical alright so you know sherry ran on and did this Richard our delivery guy you know he has a base salary but we have we have a benchmark that when he hits that benchmark he gets a large commission on every sale above that you know what that does that makes you take care of customers that means he never gets a salary raise he does his salary rates and if he doesn’t take care of business and it drops he doesn’t get a salary raise that makes him hungry and we believe hunger makes people creative i’m so thankful that our family was not wealthy you know treats and i got married we drove a fifty-dollar car we were married 20 years before we spent ten thousand dollars in total automobiles now we have some help along the way you know we had a customer that’s it you really should drive a better car i’m getting ready to give my car to the Salvation Army or or or give it to you we so what is it you know lincoln town car i drove freezer have a block josh is a worthwhile side he sold the lincoln town car for a dollar we drove it for two years I mean you know when you direct market would you believe that there are actually people out there who want to patronize your product and want you to be more successful than you can you believe that I mean in our doggy dogg you know in Ron bank bailout GM whatever you know business world it’s hard to believe that there are actually people who you can relationally market to and who want you to be successful and so richard has a built-in incentive to take care of customers to find new markets because we’re not out there you know he’s out there so is this all grew it became more than sharing can handle so she needed to break off so she decided i’ll keep i’ll keep the Metropolitan buying clubs let’s find somebody else to do the restaurant sales weekly restaurant sales so we found another young gal there in the community and gave her on the commission basis the restaurants and they’ve continued to grow and grow and again here’s another gal she works from home part time she does about three different things again another own school their theme here uh and and and she know she’s whatever 27 something like that and she has now carved out for herself this wonderful income working from home because she makes the calls every Tuesday all she has to do is come over to the farm every thursday when everything gets put on the delivery truck you know to do the invoices and handle all that but she gets a straight Commission she’s not guaranteed a penny she lives or dies based on sales so there are several other producers in the area about six produce growers a an artisanal cheese maker they now use Hannah as well so Hannah’s now they’re marketer that leverages her phone calls she gets a commission for their sales and she makes a nice living off of baking Tuesday phone calls to restaurants basically a one day a week frantic day yes calling all these chefs but it’s a one day a week deal she can do other things other times a week but all on commission by running commission-based enterprises it creates room for people to start that doesn’t jeopardize the you know the current of business with an investment that might not come back and it completely rewards performance right so then the restaurants grew even more than hannah can handle and so we decided well let’s break off the washington DC restaurants because we already had a commission and we had a delivery rate Susan came on board she works from home in DC and does all the DC marketing and delivery and because she’s doing all the delivery to she gets the entire delivering amount and the marketing commission ok so i hope you’re seeing the progress it starts with the children appreciating the the autonomy of children and and letting them build their own fiefdom everybody needs a fiefdom dealt a we all want to feed them so let them do their own fiefdom and then we take that idea to other people so we run an intern and apprentice program and the interns come for four months jun 12 sep tember 30 that’s the starting point that’s bootcamp that’s everybody comes and-and-and-and does that and then at the midpoint they can apply to be an apprentice and that’s 12 months ok at the midpoint of the internship we have a sit-down with all the interns and ask them time and money are not an issue what would you like to do and many of them would like to stay with us and so we don’t say okay we’ll give you a job instead we say oK you’ve been here a few months you see the out the operation bring us a compensation package bring us a plan and we then put on them the onus to create their salary you know how liberating that is for me and for us Saladin’s to not feel like we have to provide jobs for people rather we put the monkey on their back and say bring us a proposal and so several years ago about six or seven years ago I really started dropping hints about i would like I’d sure like to be able to eat community monday through friday but you know we can’t fix all the meals and there’s about 20 of us or so but i would sure like to have the common robbery and community feel of all the interns apprentices us everybody you know eating together monday through friday evening meal how do you do that and so we started you’re dropping little hints around another hint that i dropped around was unlike a gardener see I like a guard Daniel doesn’t like a guard Daniels looking at he likes the animals and all that he just never liked the guard I we always had a wonderful guard when we first started I wasn’t so busy traveling and doing this stuff and I like the garden I like be able to walk out the back door and just feel like I’m nested in abundance and I just like that that feel alright Daniel being ultimately functional he says look at the amount of time it takes me to pick a bushel of green beans i can raise a thousand dollars worth of chickens and go to the farmers market and buy green beans and you get that as a dad I have to be willing to say that’s ok so now suddenly the burden is on me if I want this garden if I want this thing and I can’t force Daniel to do it and I don’t want to force the angle to do it because that changes all sorts of things so if i want this how can we get this done so everybody wins so Daniel doesn’t have to do it and I get what I want so I started putting these drops around and about six years ago one of our former of interns called me and said hey you know is that does that chef position still open absolutely says that gardeners positions a lot of absolutely so Dan came as a chef / gardener Korea added his own compensation package i’ll do the shopping for this much do the garden for this much and he invoices us all right and he was there two years he did the shitake mushrooms he started that business the i think the point is he was not an employee he was building us as a professional farmer imagine that a professional farmer who gives invoices for their production a price maker instead of a price taker well that’s an amazing concept and so what is developed are what we call memorandums of understanding so we don’t have employees per se but we have our memorandums of understanding that define a time polyface obligations the partner collaborators obligations the compensation and every one of them carries a non litigation Claus we will not we will not form collaborative arrangements with anybody that is willing to sue anybody and so everybody has to sign this thing that says my fault your fault nobody’s fault no matter what happens nobody Sue’s anybody okay we think that’s the only way to really have a shared you know relationship because there’s always that little idea of somebody you know suing it it colors everything and so so now we have these memoranda of understanding in place so we rent the sparks we’re at nine farms in the area several of them have housing on them some of them don’t and so we have young people that want to stay with the team that are creating their own package well I’d like to move cows move pigs are have a garden you know do a pair of egg mobiles and phase four thousand boilers and so what we’ve done is create numerous compensation uh benchmarks amounts for how much risk the person wants to take some young some young people come with a little bit of nest egg and they want to capitalize a little bit others don’t have a penny to their name so we incentivize the memory at the compensation packages to incentivise risk because this is where tension comes in if somebody says I want to raise 4,000 brothers for you under the polyface you know label all right fine we want you to do that if we go out there and we own the chickens and we buy the feet and all that and all they’re getting paid as piecework like so much marketable chicken if we go out there and a bunch of wasted feed is on the ground that’s a point of contention of attention because it’s our feet you know so three years ago we had to subcontractors one own their chickens and won didn’t we had a hundred degree day Daniel call both of us that looks gonna be a hundred degrees this week you know get things um you know aerated so that we can handle this this eat one didn’t get anything done went out and had a hundred suffocated chickens in the infield shelter now we didn’t like it but we weren’t frustrate we weren’t from well yeah we were but it wasn’t it wasn’t a big deal because they were his chickens he owned them he bought the chicks own chickens bought the feed on the the shelter’s the whole deal okay the other guy didn’t open up his brooder and suffocated 700 chicks there are chicks attention as my grandson says who’s eight Andrew he’s that he’s that he’s a real chick magnet already ate all the little girls you know they’re all planning their marriages here’s our house where we’re going to live in all this stuff whenever they come up to Andruw start you know smooth his hair and you know love and honor him he just looks around says awkward awkward well that’s the way it was with the subcontractor that had the suffocated chicks alright awkward right so what we look so we write these mo use Memorandum of Understanding to incentivize them only as much of it as possible to take those points of attention as possible you know misunderstandings misperceptions and things out of it so that they share risk the main thing I’m trying to get to is that the farm the business is gradually taking on the product line and the end of the the the persona not so much of me but of the gifts and talents that we have at any one time I can’t tell you how liberating that is suddenly now I’m not necessarily responsible for this you know big ship and visioning and making sure all this happens and providing jobs and and making sure everything gets done now all I am is a germination tray to allow these young people to plant their seeds and sprout in by germination tray and that’s ultimately extremely liberating so several years ago 312 stat okay Bri so what do you want to do so well I really like kids and it bums me that the farm isn’t providing school tours for four children we just don’t have the personnel for said can I could I do that as a business absolutely slam-dunk good deal so we birth the grass stains stores the grass stains tours it was breathe business ok we charged a certain amount for tour polyface got a little bit as a royalty ok she got the lion’s share of it her business she markets she developed a curriculum decided where to go how long two hours talking with teachers talk with pattern we had everything from Boy Scout trip to Cub Scouts 222 you know middle schools high schools urban schools rural schools homeschools I mean you name it and we just monitor story I mean everything ok and in just her second year she did 60 farm tours it was her business we don’t even know when people were coming you know if we saw bus come in a bunch of kids walking across the matter we re at door and it allows us to duplicate to leverage our resource base without us having to run it do it and all that ok it’s incredibly on leveraging all right so you know so last year when Bree decided that’s one problem with running a farm of a bunch of young people you know they got dreams and fantasies and things to do places to get things that i really want to go to the valley below Irish cooking’s culinary school okay well I’m really bump what are we gonna do with I mean we have 60 tours I mean adults I mean this is a huge outreach you can I mean they all come with adults will become customer buy stuff at the store I mean it’s a very you know symbiotic a deal oh no what are we going to do see that’s the tough part of this is allowing myself to release these enterprises and realize if we don’t have a young person that wants to step up and do this it’s ok we won’t do it fortunately one of our last year’s interns was trying to create his compensation package to take one of the farms he said I’d really like to do those resting stores so he’s up and running he’s just taking it right over from bri and it’s seamless continuity right into the future but by having it a totally independent enterprise it makes it real easy for it to move from person to person and just be Queen these inter-process two different people when dan left with shitake mushrooms nobody want to do the shitake mushrooms so you know we’re just harvesting but we’re not taking care of them and and it’s okay and we won’t deal with them until somebody steps up and wants to do it the whole idea is to create customized freedoms so that people are autonomous and have the authority to run their own fiefdom within your your umbrella and you can’t believe how many things you could get done that way so you know when when when so leanna who was our product manager married Derick are apprentice manager and so she didn’t want to do the garden she done it for two years and so she wanted a concert on being a wife and do that in continuing the product inventory oh no I lost my garden and we’re going to do so just a few miles away there’s a young energetic home school or gal this graduating this spring and she’s desperate to come and do a garden and DP serious being serious farmer so we can move leanna’s and Dan’s memorandums of understanding seamlessly over the way the garden works is the gardener pays their royalty to us for having this opportunity is so many pounds of product there’s no money ok 44 sherry and Teresa for our personal canning and larger and all that ok alright so we describe that that’s the first thing and then they put down everything they want to grow and how much they want to get paid for we don’t tell them how much we’re going to pay you give us your price ok now by faith we are assuming that we can work with the price that they’re working with all right i mean if they were somebody we could trust we wouldn’t want to partner with all right so they create their compensation and then we agree on a tier of marketing because remember yes there is freedom but it has to be freedom that fits for example a subcontractor want to say i want to grow thirty thousand chickens no we can’t do that we can’t sell 3,000 chickens ok so it has to fit with what we’re doing we’re coordinating all these and so so so she carved all this out so her first market is to the farm kitchen for the farm chef and we have now replaced before the farm Shepherd so we have a lady coming she you know she’s going to be our farm chef for this year and so she’s going to do that and she will buy like we’ve been doing in the past by the vegetables from the gardener so rather than rather than being employees the farm chef bills us an invoice as a professional and the gardener gives us an invoice for the food that goes through the kitchen it completely changes the arrangement when she is providing invoices for what she produces rather than just collecting a paycheck out of the polyface kitty are you with me it completely changes the arrangement so she owns the business now once she supported so that’s her first market is the kitchen SecondMarket is the on-farm store so she can produce as much he wants for the on-farm store then she if she if she produces more than that then she can sell them through Hannah to the restaurants and energy produces more than that then we have to talk about it anyway that’s that’s the that’s the prioritization of the market that we all agree that this these are but these are priorities in the market and you can do as much as you want within that and if ultimately you produce something that you can’t sell you get to eat it we don’t know you a penny for that it’s your business okay that protects us from her just going hard while also something that she really likes to grow but can’t sell an incentive Isis her to be market savvy what are people buying let me let me get some council here and ask you know what are people buying so that’s what I’m going to grow see and she is able to grow as much as she wants to within that alright so I got my gardener and I get to walk out and enjoy this you know wonderful garden and there it is so last year either one of the stay she want to run one of the farm ok good one of those gals was moving to get married she was going up to Maine get married okay great that opened up one of the farms but that farm did not generate enough with the cows to pay a full-time salary well last summer we hatched our own chicks for the first time we’ve got an incubator she hatched about 500 chicks because we’re getting very very disenchanted with hatchery chicks even even on hybrids and the old standard American variety and so you know we’re believer in in survival genetics uh you know don’t do anything don’t medicate don’t vaccinate don’t do anything and keep breeding the survivors and you get strength ok you know don’t tell the you know Humane Society will take you to court for animal abuse if you do that but that’s what we do alright so it’s true i mean we’ve been behind and provided our culture to the point where everybody thinks that every animal needs an air-conditioned and everyone ll be monogrammed chair I mean three years ago we spent three days with state veterinarian with animal abuse charge some lady drove by herd of cows while the real farms and he’s you know 300 head were all you know up at the gate ready for the four o’clock move called 911 this is abusive these animals are all crowded up crowds are stressful crowds are stressful so we get to spend three days the animal abuse charges I that’s why they call them i heard you know wouldn’t it be great to live in a society where the animal abuse officer could laugh at the ladies ladies your stupid by but now they’ve gotta gotta take three days of our time and go through this full you know bureaucratic report at taxpayers expense for some you know Fifi lady on our way to the garden club who doesn’t know anyway Oh what’s our timeline okay um so so we’re also heather so so I said well um I i think i would like to hatch chicks so Heather’s mou it should so we set down and agreed on how much per chick both bullets and cockerels this is creating a very new conundrum for us as we don’t we really don’t want to feed the cockerel chicks to the pigs if we can help it and so we’d like to grow them out so the big unknown this summer is can we market these cock roles as you know a pastor genetic old heritage type you know native eyes genetics survivor you know they didn’t survive our knife but they survived everything else on you know and you know take any market these you know brown meat orange fat I mean they are to die for ok the question is can we market that we tried this about 12 years ago and and we just we just could not get enough market to to move these cocktails so we’re going to try it again hopefully you know with paleo and where Justin a price and some savvy people hopefully we’ll be able to do it and if we don’t you know maybe we will maybe we’ll develop a commercial kitchen and turn it into you know chicken stew or something and and sell it that way anyway we we really don’t want to just throw away the Cochran’s just for a lot of reasons like the industry does and so were you know what we’re dealing with that but if it’s the end of the day if we can’t come up with any solution you know we will see the tix to the pigs the pigs will like it so so Heather so we’ve carved out for Heather and an amount per you know pull it chick and amount per cockerel chick and it’s her baby she handles everything does all the all the scheduling of the setting of the eggs the you know the the candling the checking author it’s her business and she invoices us for the chicks so here’s the deal over time you can look at the farm business and look at all your large expenses and say alright can we internalize these so the final 1 i’ll just share with us up last year one of our apprentices what was done and he wanted to stay with Jonathan go Jonathan what do you want to do and and i have been dropping tidbits that there has to come a time where are our off-farm repair shop bills can pay for full-time salary I don’t know where that magic you know that magic tip over you know . is but there’s a point i mean you know where we’re two-and-a-half over two-and-a-half million dollar business okay so we know we run seven tractors and we’ve got like 200 tires you know we keep a local tire store in business and and so you know it did this is a going concern ok there’s a lot going on here alright and so I’ve been dropping these little you know just thinking out loud about these things and Jonathan picked up on this will Jonathan wonderful apprentice I mean he would rather well then eat I mean he loves the shop he loves fabrication loves i mean i do it but I do it reluctantly I do it because I have to ok but i don’t i don’t love it and Jonathan loves it and so he said um I’d like to take one of the farms as a subcontractor flying and i’d like to offer you the services of a shop foreman and so we agreed on an amount and so he has started his own business called farm fix in our shop that we’ve given him the freedom to cut the shop pull it all out read it I mean he’s hung lights in their report concrete an aries got I mean he’s already built tables and and and I mean he’s turning this into a into a pretty cool shop and for the first time in my life I can go out in the field and break something and bring it back and just drop it off at the shop door and say fix it and you know how cool that is not only that but now he has a launchpad to develop his own shop farm combo business he’s going to do one pair of egg mobiles move a group of cows and take four and take the 20-acre a pig field over there next to that rental farm and you’re not gonna do any broilers or anything like that and so you don’t want to do any of those so that’s his package somebody else you know they want to do a bunch of boilers and um and only do you know one pair of a global or whatever um you know we’ve had we’ve had young people come that want to do our soap you know so we’ve sold soap are we you know my brother’s honey you know he does honey he’s an airplane mechanic ed likes to do the honey so he the honey is his business alright um Eric this spring he tapped all the of sugar maple trees he’s made 20 gallons of maple syrup that he’ll sell for himself polyface doesn’t need to get any of that I’m just tickled that he was able to leverage something that we weren’t using this app was there for all these years it just wasn’t being used if he can make a couple thousand bucks off and I told eric i said that you know that this maple syrup is worth a lot more as maple sugar donuts not just maple syrup always trying to get a value add you always think about how do you value at but the idea is I’m not trying to grow my own wealth or our own estate or whatever my pleasure my deepest pleasure comes from seeing these young people find their niche find their place of opportunity and then sprout on our germination tray and because we don’t have employees it creates room for that to happen if I were defining here’s what I want done this this this do you want this you want no you don’t ok you want that if I were defining on it the dynamics would be completely different everybody follow me the dynamics would be completely different so from a business model we find this incredibly encouraging and empowering to find partners to find people that will come in as non-employees but rather incentivize feet them autonomous partners to leverage resources that you have and I think that as we move as we move that kind of a of a of a team business model forward not only does it give us a tremendous amount of spontaneity among the different people you know Oh like a monopoly game i’ll trade you 115 for 2 i’ll trade you this enterprise for that enterprise and they can just trade around among themselves that’s exactly what they do i’ll trade you this before that one out you know i’ll keep the i’ll keep three guard dogs this winter and and you can do something else and and and you know that they just traded off so you know when people ask will push the future that I don’t have a clue people say well you know what are you doing about energy what are you doing about you know sprouts or you know biochar or whatever you know what my answer is when the people are here it’ll happen so we have you know we if a person came tomorrow that wanted to do bio mass of gas wood biomass powered up you know steam generation great aquaponics yeah man you know a cut flower business absolutely see here’s the thing when you have a customer base the easiest thing to do when you have a customer base is not add a new customer is add a new product to your existing customer base if there’s one rule of marketing that applies everywhere it is this it is much easier to find a hundred people who will spend a thousand dollars with you than a thousand people who has been honored with you the hard part in marketing is getting the customer the first time nobody makes a profit on the first sale you only make a profit on your second third fourth sales those become easier and easier so what we want to do is if we’re selling you know vegetables and maple syrup we want to add chicken to that and if we’re selling maple syrup chicken we will sell rabbit stew that and we want to you know add pecans and and this kind of arrangement allows us to do that you see most people are not evenly gifted even as farmers within producing plants or animals that’s why you tend to see farms and gravitate toward animals and farms that gravitate toward plants ok and you don’t generally see experts on both of those things because even among farmers well here is a way to do that I mean tell me there’s not a thousand acre wheat farm in Kansas that couldn’t carve out 14 acre spot for you to do a produce operation on ok we’re not asking to be an employee of the farmer all you’re asking for is a is a piece and and as and if the farmer has to pay you to come and help that completely changes the you know the risk factor but if you come in and say I’ll build a business i’ll build a pastured poultry operation on your uh beef cattle far now there’s no risk see I’ll I’ll take I’ll tell you what I’ll take a portion of your apples as much as i can sell as as cider I’ll invested the juicing equipment and develop the market and i’ll buy them at your price and let me have them to turn them into cider you can start a whole cider business without an apple tree ok building an additional income on that existing place so we have carved out you know wewe now appreciate that there are open-ended numbers of opportunities on our place I mean you could have everything from vineyard to orchard to nut trees the lumber army we came real close to having a woodworker cup he was a crackerjack would we got this wonderful sawmill were in black walnut cherry you know why . country you know the Appalachian if the sawmill only gets run about you know 40 days a year that they ought to be run huh 250 days a year ok just sitting there infrastructure not being utilized all it takes is a little more grease in the couple more blades you know in a couple of oil changes and your low leverage so you want to build a woodworking business on a farm and do children toys and furniture stuff to our customer base one guy came by and he didn’t do it because the wife didn’t want live Pennsylvania but but the opportunity was there no one came by he was he was a Mason that built these clay bread ovens it was a baker and built these Claver sure come on building I’m sure our customers would like bread and we came this close and he his wife and her to the farm in Missouri so they took off the farm again but bear you no grudge that either but i hope i hope that at this point starting to realize that your place and my place and the place that you aren’t even on yet there are there are so many development possibilities out there that you can’t even go to sleep at night for all the potentials but how we structure the money and the business arrangement is what gives wiggle room trust capacity and risk forgiveness in these kind of untested waters and so I hope that the idea of developing victims of responsibility on autonomy and authority is a word that will resonate can everybody say chiefdoms with me thief does ok remember that because i think that that is an answer to all of these tricky little employee high-risk you know insurance arm workman’s compliments all these things the reason that a lot of people are scared of growing their business is because they’re scared of the business aspects of business but with the fiefdom memorandum of understanding it takes all those business aspects and those compliance issues out of the equation and freeze both parties to you know to to dance that’s what we desperately need to create fields of farmers my dream is that all of this fifty percent of america’s farmland is going to change hands in the next 15 years rather than being centralized and gobbled up by you know foreign investors and and and and you know centralized interests and being amalgamated conglomerated and adulterated and prostituted whatever else happens to this land that in fact we will see an exponential entrepreneurial explosion of young bright-eyed bushy-tailed self-starters to decentralize bring the economy from the urban to the rural what I call the reverse cash flow where the wealth in the country begins to reside in the information the management and the visionary savvy of a new generation of young people who will take this and love it and nurture it and bring Redemption into our rural landscapes and our food systems god help us to do it thank you very much learning now thank you you’re very time now my all of your parents they all of your carrots grow long and straight may your radishes be large and not pithy may your Tomatoes be free of blossom end rot may the Coyotes be struck blind at your pastor chickens may all your cows be heavy with calf may the rain fall gently on your field the wind be always at your back your children around and call you blessed and may we all make this nest a better place and we inherited thank you so much let me visit.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Daiana Lorenz