Over my years of farming, I have learned a great deal. I have modified how I farm based on what I have learned. The main function of the farm now is crops. I have three main philosophies when it comes to how I produce my crops: the crop must grow well here; the produce must be in demand in this area; and the crop must fit into the schedule with all the other crops.
It is important not to fight Mother Nature. I have no interest in trying to grow crops that should be grown in other parts of the country and the world. I want to focus on what grows well here. That is the reason we do not have a full service fruit and vegetable stand.
I want to make sure I have a market for what I produce. Asparagus and strawberries are both in demand. I have no problem selling all the asparagus I grow. The strawberries are our main crop. People love to do the Pick Your Own and there is a big wholesale market. We plant as many fields as we can, given the restrictions we have on help. Polly and I do all the sales work (with some support from family members), and besides the two of us, we hire two seasonal workers to help in the fields. This level of effort is all we can do so that we are not overstaffed during other seasons.
The seedless straw I produce has found a local market for everything from mulching to building houses. It is especially useful for organic growers who have problems enough with limited solutions. My limit here is on acreage. For the areas that are too wet for straw, I can grow grass and produce hay. Pumpkins and squash can be grown after the straw. The pumpkin market seems to be getting full with too many producers, but the squash can be sent to markets south of here.
I have tried to structure my crops to fit together and to fit with my labor resources. The asparagus comes early in the season when our two seasonal workers arrive to work on getting established strawberry plants ready and setting out new plants. Next comes strawberry season. Since this is our main crop, all resources are focused on this. The seedless straw needs to be harvested during strawberry season. This makes for a busy time, but the strawberry picking is early in the day and the straw harvest is late. The hay is done all summer and the pumpkins and squash are harvested in the fall.