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Old April 5, 2018   #1
FourOaks
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Default Considering Outside Help

Lately, I have been very busy. I havent had hardly anytime to even get on here. This got me thinking. At what point does a Farmer/Plant Grower really look into outside, off the farm help?


Each year I try to expand a little more. Im hoping this Fall to build 2 more High Tunnels. I like the 12x48 footprint. Its economical to build, and maintain. Hoping the Farmers Market income covers the costs.


Couple days ago I was working on filling up my grow bags. This required a trip to the city to get soil making materials. Between that, and filling over 200 bags, and placing them in the Tunnel, and planting bush beans in them, I had about 2.5 days tied up. Eventually, I want to replace those bags in the tunnel with raised beds.. but thats not the point.


None of us are getting any younger. Thats for sure. As I expand Im trying to make things easier, not harder.


Then I started thinking that eventually I am going to most likely have to get help. My wife works full time in the Health Care Industry. Daughter is in HS and has a part time job. So that leaves me, and the cat. And the cat is busy chasing mice.....


Until my operation becomes really profitable, I cant afford to pay someone, not with CASH. Im considering the idea of offering Vegetables/Herbs/Fruits/Flowers as a form of payment in exchange for labor. I have seen this offered at some CSA Farms. Basically allowing you to pay off your CSA with sweat equity.


Anyone have any ideas, pointers, concerns? Im just putting this out there. Just to ponder the idea.
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Old April 5, 2018   #2
Patihum
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You might explore the possibility of using ag students from local high schools (FFA) or even colleges. Sometimes they can earn extra credit etc. by working hands on in their chosen field.
They get experience and you get a willing laborer.
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Old April 5, 2018   #3
FourOaks
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You might explore the possibility of using ag students from local high schools (FFA) or even colleges. Sometimes they can earn extra credit etc. by working hands on in their chosen field.
They get experience and you get a willing laborer.
This idea I like. I never thought about that. Matter of fact my daughters HS has an ag. program. But I would prefer students at least 18 years of age or older, considering the society we live in now days.

But I like your thoughts.
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Old April 5, 2018   #4
Salsacharley
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I wouldn't look for HS aged help unless they were 18 yrs old, which pretty much rules out HS kids. I refuse to expose myself to any allegations. You are in the excruciating position of needing/wanting to expand, but needing to already be big enough to afford help to expand. When you put math to the "trade product for wages" scenario, you'd have to offer 27 lbs of produce @ $3 per lb just to pay eight hours wages at $10 per hour. How many kids would do that, or even want to take produce instead of cash?
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Old April 5, 2018   #5
FourOaks
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I wouldn't look for HS aged help unless they were 18 yrs old, which pretty much rules out HS kids. I refuse to expose myself to any allegations. You are in the excruciating position of needing/wanting to expand, but needing to already be big enough to afford help to expand. When you put math to the "trade product for wages" scenario, you'd have to offer 27 lbs of produce @ $3 per lb just to pay eight hours wages at $10 per hour. How many kids would do that, or even want to take produce instead of cash?
Unless they were part of an AG program, and were looking at needing the Credit for a Class, then you are absolutely correct, which is what Patihum was getting at.


But otherwise, your math is pretty much what I had in mind. I would need to find an able bodied Adult, who has some free time, and doesnt mind the sweat equity factor.


Maybe I need to hunt out some Farms that do a CSA that way, and I know a few exist, to see how they handle such matters.


On a similar note, a few years ago I saw a Craigslist ad, advertising a 1 Acre Family Farm that was in need of help. Pay was in veggies. It always stuck in my mind.
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Old April 9, 2018   #6
greenthumbomaha
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Originally Posted by FourOaks View Post
Unless they were part of an AG program, and were looking at needing the Credit for a Class, then you are absolutely correct, which is what Patihum was getting at.


But otherwise, your math is pretty much what I had in mind. I would need to find an able bodied Adult, who has some free time, and doesnt mind the sweat equity factor.


Maybe I need to hunt out some Farms that do a CSA that way, and I know a few exist, to see how they handle such matters.


On a similar note, a few years ago I saw a Craigslist ad, advertising a 1 Acre Family Farm that was in need of help. Pay was in veggies. It always stuck in my mind.
Good luck on finding free help, I'm on a priority waiting list for regular landscaping! The going rate that help gets paid is $25 hour here. That isn't what the consumer pays, it is what the labor gets paid. They can cut and trim a lawn in 20 minutes, and the charge is about $75. Very profitable, but seasonal.

Traditionally but not always ag students come from an ag background. For college independent study credit, you need approval from the department in advance. This would involve the student writing a detailed proposal, regular updates meeting an advisor, and a summary report. The experience would be in a specific concentration, such as ag economics or sales, marketing, international, etc. Back in the day for me, interns did small projects and typed a lot. I feel so bad for them now!

You might try a temporary employment agency. They handle the paperwork and some insurance. And it is temporary in nature anyway. Many temps need a flexible schedule and gardening certainly provides that.

- Lisa
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Old April 9, 2018   #7
FourOaks
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Good luck on finding free help,

- Lisa
Lisa thank you for the input on the AG Students. Thats very helpful. But I did want to address the "Free Help" issue. I think there is a misunderstanding. Im interested in offering a "Work Share". To help clear this up I am copying and pasting from a Farm that uses this. I have removed the name of the farm and have highlighted the relevant parts.Hopefully this clears it up...


Quote:
Volunteer Work

Because this a community farm that depends on volunteer labor to keep up with the chores and harvesting, and because we want our members to get involved, we encourage share-holders to volunteer in the growing season. Additionally, a limited number of work-share opportunities allow members to trade 5 hours of labor weekly (harvesting) for those who have more time than money and want to pay for a CSA share in “sweat equity”. There are a limited number of work-share positions so please contact Farm Manager....
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Old April 5, 2018   #8
Hatgirl
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Are you by any chance an organic farm? There's a volunteer group for organic farms, WWOOF.
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Old April 5, 2018   #9
FourOaks
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Are you by any chance an organic farm? There's a volunteer group for organic farms, WWOOF.
Nope. One day I wouldnt mind working towards that. As it is though I am not.
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Old April 5, 2018   #10
Cole_Robbie
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Automation is cheaper than labor. You could probably grow a lot more beans in a gutter-style hydroponic setup with one man's labor.
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Old April 5, 2018   #11
FourOaks
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Automation is cheaper than labor. You could probably grow a lot more beans in a gutter-style hydroponic setup with one man's labor.
Well, possibly.


For reference each bag has around 7-9 beans per bag. Thats around 1400 bean plants. Thats beans o' plenty.
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Old April 7, 2018   #12
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You've reached that tipping point, my friend. It's that point where you start needing help but sales can't support it yet. That's a hard hump to get over and you end up working a ton of hours until you can. Been there, done that. Most every bootstrap business goes through that phase.

If HS help isn't an option due to age or liability, are there any college ag students who could help?

If there is a nearby technical college with a hort program, maybe you could talk to the instructor about setting up a work/study program where a reliable student or two could help you for free as part of an "independent study" they'd get graded on. Tech students are fairly local folks so more readily available. Just a thought.

One more thing about tipping points and that's their relative, the "sweet spot" . Once your sales can support paid help, the next decision would likely be finding that point where profit vs costs are maximized before that old law of diminishing returns sets in. A landscaper I worked for many moons ago exceeded that by accepting too many jobs. More money! BUT...More jobs meant hiring more hands, then buying more equipment for them to use, then paying more insurance, on and on in an upward spiral that eventually collapsed.
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Old April 7, 2018   #13
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I heard about a lady that had an operation going and had migrant workers working for her.
The powers that be came in and said she had to hire local help and pay so and so wages and so on.
She tried it.
The kids were lazy and didn't do anything and demanded more.
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Old April 7, 2018   #14
clkeiper
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We have limped along for years with retired men for help in our excavating business. unfortunately most people need health insurance.. something most of us cant afford to offer. so, look to the older generation for someone who wants to just keep busy without needing the insurance or 40 hrs a week. don't forget to look into all the gov't wants collected though if you hire someone. workers comp, unemployment, soc. sec. your share of the tax burden if you cut a pay check and a myriad of other state or local compliances if you become an "employer" ... ask an accountant what you need for your state.
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Old April 7, 2018   #15
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Don't forget the elderly. There might be someone living in an assisted living facility or apartments for the elderly that miss the garden they had to give up.
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