5 things I’m proud of from the 2018 season:
Investment in fertility! We’ve been skating by for a couple years without giving our plants the deluxe treatment they deserve. This year we instituted a regiment of supplemental liquid feeding from a gorgeous blend of seaweed-based fertilizer, and this fall we spread approximately 3 big dumptruck loads of compost across most of the farm… 6” deep in some beds! We saw big improvements in health and resilience this year, and the benefits will keep coming next year.
We were resilient in the face of troubles. Our beloved tiller was stolen, and meagerly compensated by insurance. We adjusted our tillage and bed preparation plans, and did we needed to be done to get the babies into beautiful, well prepared land. We hired local contractors where necessary to till new land, and paid for more staff time to double dig existing beds by hand. Additionally, Farmer Sarah faced a personal loss in July that made this busy time of the season even more difficult than usual. However, the staff rose to the occasion to fill in the gaps, and we made it through the tough time without significant upset to the business.
Farmer Sarah worked less on evenings and weekends! The addition of the refrigerated cooler not only meant that we could sell more flowers of a better quality, it meant that some orders could be prepared ahead by a day or two. This meant less overtime to prepare weekend orders, and more time spent with the family, enjoying life and Saturday Eastern Market (as a customer, not a vendor)!
Many returning crew members. This season we had returning crew members for both the regular season and the extended end-of-season. Staff increased their skills, pursued learning goals, and received raises. Cultivating the farming skills of newer growers is one of Farmer Sarah’s favorite pursuits, and this season was a wonderful example of it.
Increased participation in regional farming activities. This year Fresh Cut continued to sell as a grower in the Michigan Flower Grower’s Cooperative. Farmer Sarah was elected to their board. Connecting with farmers statewide, and encouraging exchange between urban and rural growers is a great passion for Farmer Sarah, and she was pleased to lay the groundwork to continue this wonderful work into the 2019 season.
5 things I’d like to improve for the 2019 season:
Something from the 2017 list that still needs to be improved: customer database. My customers are my biggest strength, and I need to know them more, and make it easier for them to buy from me when they need it.
Profitability! My employees deserve a better financial future, and our business needs to stay viable. I am committed to increasing efficiencies, and making sure prices accurately reflect costs.
Improved quality of product. The fertility improvements made in 2018 will continue into 2019 and we will improve the quality of our product. Our flowers will be bigger, more vibrant, and longer lasting. We will document and prove their superiority over imported flowers!
Public engagement. Our end of season party this year was a BLAST! Let’s do more of that. More planned ahead public events (maybe a u-pick opportunity?) a well as a few on-farm workshops will let more people enjoy the beautiful wonderland of our farm. And truth be told, Farmer Sarah lovers talking to a crowd!
Smarter communication with our audience. This is related to the customer database, but not quite the same. It’s helped to have a more formulaic approach to instagram (alternating shots of just flowers with shots of people on the farm, approx 3x/week), but we need to be smarter and more consistent about our communiques. When do we tell people what to buy, and how? When are we building loyalty and engagement? What do people actually want to hear? How are we using our platform to hold up other equity-focused farming work?