After sharing with you about the State of the Farm in our newsletter last fall, we’ve taken some time over the winter to reflect on the evolutionary path of the farm and to take a deep look at the financial health of the business as well. With the support of our professional bookkeeper and a farm business consultant, Britt has spent countless hours upgrading our bookkeeping systems, analyzing our numbers from multiple angles, and bringing into focus some eye-opening perspectives on the farm finances, which we need to share with you.
For many years, Anna and I were able to build and run this farm by sheer will at times. By working very long hours at extremely low wages (less than $4 per hour for many years), we were able to make ends meet to realize this dream. At this point in time though, paying a living wage to the farm’s employees, including the farmer, is a necessity in order to continue as a viable, sustainable business.
Last summer we realized we were in new territory when we needed to take out our first-ever operating loan to keep the farm running. Thanks to your incredibly generous support in response to our request in the fall, we raised over $20,000 to help us repay our loan and cover our operating costs, ending the year with just under a 2% profit margin.
Since setting our 2022 CSA share prices last autumn, the world has changed a lot. In recent months there has been a surge in input costs (for the farm and for everyone else), with inflation up over 7%. Even though, as a horse-powered farm, we may not be as directly dependent on petroleum fuel for our work, rising prices do affect the cost of all of our purchased inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and really everything we buy. After a recent reevaluation, we’re now projecting an increase in expenses of $19,000 over our original 2022 budget.
One main benefit of the CSA model is that our income is secured before the beginning of the growing season when you pre-purchase your shares. One of the downsides though, is that with prices set many months in advance of production, we are less flexible to respond to a rapidly changing economic landscape like what we are seeing right now.
After the huge influx of support we received last fall, we believe that you truly understand the value of the work we are doing and are committed to supporting our efforts towards financial sustainability.