We've talked a lot in the last 5 years about sustainability.
We've talked about farm sustainability, land sustainability, livestock, environmental, and food system sustainability.
We haven't talked much about farmer sustainability.
I began the year saying that we were going to focus on self-care this year. And then 'The Pandy' as Hubster affectionally refers to it - threw our, and your, worlds upside down... we're still working to catch our breath.
But if you peel back the chaos, there was a lot to be learned from 2020.
This farm has evolved a LOT since we started this venture in 2015. This is as much a journey for us as finding and sourcing local foods for the first time (or third or seventh) is for you.
I'm being asked a lot what my plans are for the farm after I finish the CPA exam (currently waiting on the score from test #3, and am actually starting the course for the 4th and final test after I hit publish on this blog post). Some of you have also expressed some concerns that we might be throwing in the towel after seeing my post on Facebook that we will no longer be offering eggs regularly.
I've sat here for years and preached about transparency - so I feel like we need to bring all of you up to speed as to what our future here looks like.
Lesson 1: There is strength in numbers.
I won't like, I had grandiose plans when we set out on this venture. We were going to do everything - and we were going to do it all ourselves. We were invincible at 33. At 38, I just want a nap.
What we've learned is that we will never be able to do all of the things that we thought we would when we started this journey in 2015. But that doesn't mean we can't still make a difference... and a big one at that. Back in March, when stores sold out, and people turned to small farms, the small farms quickly turned to each other. We offered support, customer referrals, and shared whatever resources we could to help each other through the madness.
I've said for years that we are not each others competitors, and that we all see ourselves as being on the same team. This spring proved that.
Rather than leveraging economies of scale; small farms can leverage communities of scale.
Lesson 2: I won't be quitting my day job... at least not willingly.
I used to work from home one day a week as a matter of practicality. It offered a great work/life balance. When COVID hit, we started working from home full time. I'm still working from home full time. It's been 6 months, but it feels like 9 years.
I. Have. Hated. Every. Blessed. Minute. Of. It.
I like the structure of going into the office regularly. I like seeing people other than Hubster and my mom regularly and for long enough to have an external conversation - not just in passing at the grocery store.
Dropping the day job to farm all day doesn't suit my personality, and if for nothing else - I am thankful that 2020 gave me the opportunity to test those waters to see what it would be like without having to fully commit to it.
Lesson 3: It has to make sense for us too.
I need to address the elephant in the room. The decision to drop eggs from our regular product offering for the time being.
One of the biggest lessons 2020 taught us personally what how valuable our time is. Between my day job, managing my own business and all that it entails, and studying for the CPA exam - time is the one resource that I do not have to spare.
While eggs seem to make sense as part of a farm store offering; they're actually a completely different product than frozen pastured meats. The perishability of eggs makes them a completely different marketing approach, and the harsh truth is that if you asked me who my biggest competitor is, it wouldn't be another farm, or a specific store - it's convenience.
I'm not naïve enough to think that I'm the only one on this planet that has a lot going on - and when you're busy, most consumers will pay a higher price tag for an inferior product, simply because it's in front of them at the grocery store. If you're one of those people - I'm not judging you for that. I have an Amazon Prime subscription for a reason.
For those of you concerned that we're not throwing in the towel - don't fret.
Our decision to drop eggs as a regular product offering was a straight-forward business decision - it came down to the measure of how much incremental time was required to market a highly perishable product compared to the everything else that we offer here vs. what the returns were on that product.