Jeff Pernell is a teacher and the founder of Galactic Farms in Missoula, Montana.
Jeff builds systems and currently runs an experimental aquaponic system for the University of Montana.
Through his first years in farming, Jeff has learned several precious lessons about growing for profit.
We asked Jeff the top thing that new farmers should do to prepare for farming. The answer was twofold: 1) Listen! and 2) Know the pain points of the market.
"Listen, listen, listen!"
You don't make huge (money intensive) decisions without researching it first. Why would you start a farm without doing your due diligence?
A key way to feel out farming is by shadowing other farmers. You can do this through:
- Forums and social media groups
- Online learning
- Talking to farmers
Of course, that's all worthless if you don't listen!
Good news for you: if you're reading this, then you're on the right path. (You can see a bunch of tips like this here.)
Finding a niche = solving a pain point
Pain points define demand. Each market has different pain points and therefore different opportunities.
One might have low access to fresh herbs. Another might have incredibly engaged farmers markets. Another might have just lost a major CSA (and now has a hundred customers looking for a new farmer).
Start your farm with these pain points in mind.
"Before you dive into the market thinking it's going to be easy to sell your produce, really understand what it is that you're getting into."
While you want to leave room for your business to grow into new opportunities, realize that you won't be able to scale the farm if you don't start making money right away. Do some market research and make sure that you'll be able sell your produce.
Need some help with the planning process?
Maybe you're trying to figure out how to start a farm. This can be a daunting task for those with no agricultural experience -especially with so many voices in the agricultural space vying for attention.
Because so many options are popping up for new farmers, many find themselves with writer's block when they sit down to plan.
Thankfully there are lots of resources out there to help!
I recommend the Business Planning Guide which guides new farmers through all the parts of planning a business needed to move forward.
Pick one up today and get your plans in order for 2017. (And don't forget to call us if you need help!)