Money isn’t everything, but is sure is a dang useful resource!!
There are so many reasons we farm: to bring about a change in society and our environment, because we love being our own boss and working out doors, to create a wonderful environment to raise children, to grow vibrant nourishing food for our communities, etc. What an amazing set of life’s intentions this is!
And ultimately…. we need to make money from our farm or market garden so that we have the resources necessary to bring all these wonderful intentions into reality.
Your farm is a business! It’s amazing how profitable small scale organic vegetable farming can be when the key business systems are in place. You can make a comfortable full time living from organic vegetable farming!
The financial GPS
One key practice is making a budget and then actually using it to make decisions throughout the growing season. It’s a bit like a GPS, you can’t just enter your destination and forget about it, you actually have to look at the map and use the GPS to navigate to road to where you want to go.
Similarly, the real utility of a budget is to help you make decisions on how to use your money during the growing season. I see too many people make a budget and not take a look at it again till the following winter when they close their books and find out how much profit they actually did (or did not) make.
Instead, keep your bookkeeping up to date and every month (or every weeks, depending on the size of your business) compare your actual results to you budget forecasts.
Are you reaching your sales targets for each of your sales outlets?
If not, what action could you take this week to boost your sales? Are there any new outlets or clients that could be explored?
Are you there any expense categories where you are spending more or less money that you had planned?
Given what you are observing, what could you be doing to adjust your spending so as to reach the goals that you have set for yourself? Notice we often have a tendency to want to buy the larger format of material so as to get a better per unit price. With an up to date budget, we know exactly how much money is left in each expense category. For example, if we need screws but our hardware budget is almost empty, we can just buy what we need rather than going for the 1000 screw box. Alternatively, we can look and see if there is another expense account where we actually over budgeted and thus can redirect some money to the hardware expense category and let ourselves loose on the mega-huge box of screws!
It’s amazing how much power we actually have over how we spend our money. Yes, there are some expenses that are non-negotiable, but you have much more agency than it may at first seem like.
Mid season re-budgeting
Another practice that is useful is to revise your budget forecasts in mid-August or early september. Now that you know the actual incomes and expenses for January through July or August, enter them into a new version of your budget. Next, take a fresh look at the coming months. What are you expecting in terms of income and expenses?
With this refreshed mid-season budget forecast, you now have a much clearer picture of how the fall will shape out, what sales targets you need to be hitting, and how much money you actually have to spend.
I know… you’d rather be out in the fields with your hands in the soil… and you probably have more urgent things to do… but budgeting is one of those quadrant 2 (non-urgent, important tasks) that will free up so much of your mental space and enable you to run your farm or market garden with clarity and focus.. and have FUN doing so!
What would it be like farm without worry about money?
Would it be OK with you if money got a little easier?
There’s never been a better time to master the energy of money than right friggin now.
Go make a ruckus!