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Reflections and Realizations

 
pollinator
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I have been doing a garden for 14 years. I went to trade school for Horticulture. I tried in vain to get into 3 different culinary schools. Now, through a series of strange evens I see myself being a professional baker in 5 years, and stranger still, because of a homestead.

The progress on my homestead is that we have applied on monday to get an fha loan on a property near Portsmouth Ohio in the US. Fha first time home buyer loan includes a grant for the downpayment. The property has all we wanted except acerage. But it is surrounded by pasture and we might be able to buy some in the future. There is room for pigs and chickens if we don't graze the pigs. There is room for a garden. There are already fruit and nut trees and a pond.

So where does the baking come in? The Portsmouth Farmers Market. I spoke to the Organizer yesterday and he said it was totally fine to sell roasted coffee and bread and that nobody else was doing that. He also said we could sell our surplus vegetables while we were set up for coffee and bread. The current plan therefore is to sell vegetables and roasted coffee the first year, build a cottage industry compliant home bakery in the garage over the winter, and do coffee beans and bread in 2020. I intend to save up enough money from the market over the course of several years to build a brick and mortar bakery adjacent to my house.

One thing I have realized is that I can't do it all. It has taken me 25 years (since I decided to be a chef and farmer) but I realized it yesterday. I will still have a big garden, some chickens and feeder pigs, and go hunting and fishing. But I'm not going off grid, or going to produce all of my own food. It is unrealistic to think I can pay my bills with arts and crafts on etsy. I have to take charge of my life and start a solid business doing something in high demmand.
 
pollinator
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If I were going to do some type of small industry on my farm, it would be a wood fired bakery. The markup between the cost of raw ingredients and the finished product, is very favorable. One guy who does that here, has branched into supplying certain restaurants with all of their bread, so it's not just a weekend market thing anymore.

There's one other pretty simple item that has a similar markup. Homemade soap can usually pay three times the cost of raw material. It took me one day to get pretty good at it. You'll find that the same type of space necessary for processing all of that bread, is totally suitable for soap. And you won't be contaminating your food area. People expect you to use soap to clean up. I've been to enough markets to know that the people who want to buy homemade bread are the same ones that buy homemade soap.
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Ryan Hobbs
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That is a very good point mr Hodgins. Maybe my grandma could do that to occupy herself during the week while I'm doing farm stuff as she is retiring from teaching this summer and would otherwise be bored. I will of course ask her tomorrow as today she is subbing in kindergarten and probably won't want to talk after work.
 
Dale Hodgins
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You mentioned that it's been a 25-year journey since you decided to become a chef, so you're obviously not a spring chicken. I must ask, how old is your grandmother?
 
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Smoked salt is something that brings a premium and would beceasy enough to make.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Dale Hodgins wrote:You mentioned that it's been a 25-year journey since you decided to become a chef, so you're obviously not a spring chicken. I must ask, how old is your grandmother?



72. I would do the heavy lifting ofc.
 
pollinator
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Ryan H.   Once you get the brick-oven in place, invest in a few picnic tables and a license for food prep and you will be set:

https://www.travelwisconsin.com/article/local-foods/wisconsins-pizza-farms

 
Ryan Hobbs
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John Weiland wrote:Ryan H.   Once you get the brick-oven in place, invest in a few picnic tables and a license for food prep and you will be set:

https://www.travelwisconsin.com/article/local-foods/wisconsins-pizza-farms



Parking would be a nightmare and people would be showing up at random... I have a bit of a unique problem and I feel I need to explain it at this point to make my business make sense. There is a lot of stigma related to it and I want you to know I do my best to be a good person despite it.

I need to work alone and be relatively stress free with only moderate suprises. So my angle is that the farmers market is going to be horrifying but grandma volunteered to handle the money and said I should just do the setting up and tearing down and customer education. Because of schizophrenia, I already second guess everything I hear and see. Working alone and only dealing with customers at the market or over the phone means that if I hear or see something I can just ignore it knowing that there isn't supposed to be anyone around. My medicine reduces the frequency of symptoms but only if I keep busy and stay away from my ptsd triggers and force myself to calm down with breathing and mindfulness exercises. The home baking gig is perfect in most respects. And the part that is hard, my grandma will help me get through it. If it wasn't for her love and kindness I would likely be in the hospital all the time instead of one week a year. I can't be a chef in a restaurant or hotel like I originally wanted when I was a kid. Baked goods are methodical and take a long time with a lot of time in between for breaks. There are no servers or other staff to work with. Just me and water and wheat and time. I do have good humor about all this though. Never a dull moment.
 
pollinator
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It sounds to me like you've got it figured out pretty well.  I think we're all fucked up in some way, I know I am, and knowing how to mitigate it is great.  I think that a lot of the people here have experienced issues or know those that do, but I'm very impressed with how you can talk about it.

One thing to keep in mind with businesses is that they tend to fail, especially your first one (few).  Every time you fail, you learn what to do better, so you're still moving along the path to success.  Owning a business makes it a lot easier to deal with your issues, as you can run your business around them, whereas an employer generally won't.  It sounds like a great plan you've got now, though.  I really like focusing on one or two things like the bread and coffee to start.  It keeps it simple and allows you to get a feel for the market.  

I wouldn't worry about the lot size.  I raised rabbits, quail and chickens and had great garden production while living in a semi-detached 2 blocks from the main street in a city of 300kish.  I'd keep all the coffee grounds for compost or BFSL and trade free coffee and left-over bread for left-over produce from the other vendors.  Best of luck!
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Timothy Markus wrote:It sounds to me like you've got it figured out pretty well.  I think we're all fucked up in some way, I know I am, and knowing how to mitigate it is great.  I think that a lot of the people here have experienced issues or know those that do, but I'm very impressed with how you can talk about it.



Thanks. ^_^ It has taken a long time before I could.

One thing to keep in mind with businesses is that they tend to fail, especially your first one (few).  Every time you fail, you learn what to do better, so you're still moving along the path to success.  Owning a business makes it a lot easier to deal with your issues, as you can run your business around them, whereas an employer generally won't.  It sounds like a great plan you've got now, though.  I really like focusing on one or two things like the bread and coffee to start.  It keeps it simple and allows you to get a feel for the market.



This isn't my first business. I have done all kinds of different crafts. To name a few: blacksmithing, pottery, beadwork, lsndscape design, decorative paving, and a thing where I made homecooked lunches and delivered them to people exploiting a loophole in the health laws. You are right, with every failure I have learned something. I'm pretty sure this time will be different. I have scaled back to just the basics. In fact, I brought down the cost by 66.28% today by altering the plan of action.

I wouldn't worry about the lot size.  I raised rabbits, quail and chickens and had great garden production while living in a semi-detached 2 blocks from the main street in a city of 300kish.  I'd keep all the coffee grounds for compost or BFSL and trade free coffee and left-over bread for left-over produce from the other vendors.  Best of luck!



Ohh good ideas. I'm not doing livestock until next year.
 
Timothy Markus
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You've got a lot going for you.  

I have to admit to having some smithing items.  I think I've got 4 forges, if you include the truck drum, 2 anvils, a #400 blower and a #200 on an antique portable forge, post vice and a decent set of tongs & stuff.  I can't wait to get set up again.
 
Dale Hodgins
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When you do things that involve going to a public market, the business tends to fail or succeed each day or weekend that you try it. For most people, it's not about production. They already know how to make whatever it is they're selling. So it's basically marketing failure or success. But each day is a brand new day at the market.

If there's more than one market in town, find an existing vendor who has extra room on their table and deliver to them before setting up at your chosen venue. The guy I've seen doing this in Victoria, goes around to all of the vegetable vendors, near the end of the sale and he trades them bread for whatever they have for sale. Bread doesn't keep the way that carrots, squash and cheese do. So he turns his surplus into a shopping trip.

With a bread business, I think it would be wise to set up other deliveries for the day after market day. That way, if things don't sell, you drop it off to your regular customers at some sort of discount. If you sell out, you go home for a rest and then you stay up late and bake enough to fill the existing orders. Freezing unsold bread is probably not practical, but something like bread pudding could be made or it could be sliced up, dried and spiced to make some sort of crouton.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Here's a point about marketing anyting edible. Ideally, some people won't just put the product into their shopping bag and head home. You want some of them to be eating that product as they walk through the market. That's why you offer to slice it and your butter one up for them. Every market has people who are selling jam or butter. It's pretty cheap to give out small samples. You want to give a choice of butter, jam, hummus or whatever. Maybe have some of that product on your table for sale, or you could send them to the other vendor. Those people need some bread to demonstrate their product.

People are more likely to buy something that they have tried, or they have seen other people eating. Many times when my kids were little, we went to places where we would see other people with ice cream or cotton candy. This would get the kids chirping about their need for ice cream and cotton candy. I think the same principle is at work with other samples, although the participants may not be quite as verbal about it. :-)
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Timothy Markus wrote:You've got a lot going for you.  

I have to admit to having some smithing items.  I think I've got 4 forges, if you include the truck drum, 2 anvils, a #400 blower and a #200 on an antique portable forge, post vice and a decent set of tongs & stuff.  I can't wait to get set up again.



I hsve a home built forge and a really old anvil. My specialty when I was doing it was woodworking tools and single bevel hunting knives. I made plane blades a lot. Made rabbet planes with oak bodies and spring steel blades. I made a leather working knife of my own design pretty often. It was like a kiridashi but had a curved edge and flared toe and heel. I mostly sold my blades to a friend in florida that made carved antler grips for them. I did nearly all of my smithing with a 3oz ball peen hammer and a truck ball hitch stuffed into the hardie hole on my anvil.  
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Dale Hodgins wrote:When you do things that involve going to a public market, the business tends to fail or succeed each day or weekend that you try it. For most people, it's not about production. They already know how to make whatever it is they're selling. So it's basically marketing failure or success. But each day is a brand new day at the market.



I will keep that in mind.


If there's more than one market in town, find an existing vendor who has extra room on their table and deliver to them before setting up at your chosen venue. The guy I've seen doing this in Victoria, goes around to all of the vegetable vendors, near the end of the sale and he trades them bread for whatever they have for sale. Bread doesn't keep the way that carrots, squash and cheese do. So he turns his surplus into a shopping trip.

With a bread business, I think it would be wise to set up other deliveries for the day after market day. That way, if things don't sell, you drop it off to your regular customers at some sort of discount.



I will probably do the trade thing most often. I'm not going to count chickens before they hatch when it comes to potentisl non market customers. Though I do hope for a word of mouth expansion of the customer base.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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