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Having trouble managing my parents orchard

 
Posts: 9
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I live in the deep south, in Louisiana. I can grow almost anything. I've always been interested in various farming activities, but never got overly involved in one single project. I mainly would plant or raise what I thought could take care of my family and then a little extra to use for bartering or favors. Well, my parents did things a bit different. When they did chickens they weren't happy, unless they had about 2,000 birds. They did pigs and I think they had about 80 at a time. Then they turned some of the woods into an orange grove and they must have planted over 200 trees. Can we talk about oranges??? I just don't know what to do. The local market is flooded with citus, which probably won't sell, because people can grow all the orange trees they want. They only way to know for sure I can sell the fruit is to completely leave this area and go up north, but really I have a job, family, small farm projects and 2 elderly parents....one of which is in a hospital bed. I am trying to negotiate a bit of a barter with a lady from TN who will be trading some russet potatoes and possibly apples for satsumas. But really, I have no idea how I can arrange for all this produce to be marketed on an ongoing basis. Mom and Dad did this like a small business, all themselves right up to the selling at roadsides. There has got to be an easier way to do this. In all truth, when DH and I realized that my share of the estate was going to include the section of the orchard in the woods, we were blown away. This was no where near the idea we ever had in mind for self-sufficiency. We more always tried to do various projects to take care of multiple needs. As it stands now, we talk as if we won't be replacing any trees that die or freeze, unless we can figure out what to do to make a success of the orange business. It seems ashamed to have something valueable and not be able to take full advantage of it. I tried making a deal with one of our local grocery chains, but that never happened. Can anyone tell me how farmers go about selling their crops? I sure would hate to see the fruit wasted. I'd really like to find a way to get something out of it while my parents can still profit from all their hard work. There was a local man that bulldozed his orchard and my mom has nothing good to say about that incidence, but in truth, all I can see is a bunch of land that I could be planting greenbeans, potatoes, corn, peanuts and half dozen other things, but I can't because its full of orange trees and the family is no where near big enough to eat all that fruit. My momma is super smart and my dad had enough nerve to pull off anything, so the oranges were a good idea for them. I just wish I could continue what they started.
 
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Get a freeze dry rig, and make specialty Vit C ?

use orange trees as trellis for climbing beans.

Contact a small farmer up north, and ship down cranberries to mix with the oranges? yummy !



 
                    
Posts: 238
Location: AR ~ozark mountain range~zone7a
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Since your kina stuck on the farm, then you gotta sell it wholesale. Travel with your FREE samples, don't be stingy, and stop in on roadside vendors, get name & ph#'s for next harvest, YOU are the producer, get the word out to the vendors. The idea is get them to come to you, vendors do all the hauling & selling. You gotta make it known what ya got, and you wanna sell cheap to get your foot in door. Stop by every independent grocery within 200 miles, see their produce manager, 'sell your stuff'...mention time of harvest, your price at your farm, hand out those ph#'s. You gotta put a name on the farm, so everyone won't forget soon who and where the oranges are. Try craigslist on the internet, just for kicks. The first rule of any business is: NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL SOMEBODY SELLS SOMETHING. Don't limit yourself to anything, what if you find some guy, as your out selling, & he wants to buy the whole crop, cheap! Don't get offended, sell him the whole crop, but remember an old trick, you sell the first & the best to your vendors or whatever, and then sell 'whats left' as the whole crop on the cheap. "Always look for the First & the best, and make a blessing to others with all the rest". Don't be ashamed that it has been picked over, it is what it is, and if you can have the remainer cleaned up & moved then your all done for that harvest, and everybody is happy. Look for wholesale grocers also, they often have their own trucks to do the transport. Don't forget about other areas to sell into: orange flavoring extract, or orange as cleaning product, or orange as juice or marmalade, contact jelly cannery, what about orange moonshine, might make a ruckus in the bayou. Know your product, is it 'the best' or something less? The idea is to 'sell out every year'. Be alittle careful about overselling also. My motto always was: the first guy with the cash--gets it. Never hold on a sale today, because someone else 'promised to buy next week'. No product should ever move off your place until you have been paid in full.

About labor, use only local people, never migrant pickers. If you support your local people with jobs, white, black, brown, red, yellow, old, women, young, men they will support you somehow, it is not about prejudices, or hate, it is about your local people. Guaranteed after 2 wks at McDonalds NO KID wants to work for them...it is not so much about the money, it is about the respect you give & get as a producing farmer. Also find your local bee keepers, make his business, as welcome part of the farm, you gotta have bees. Don't run off all the wild critters, they aren't going to hurt your oranges or anything else.

Taxes will eat any business alive if not considered properly. Fed. taxes alone can consume 35% of all profit, be very smart with regard to taxes, expect to process your own taxes. Most CPA's & the like are nothing more than an 'agent for the gov.', and they will have you paying taxes to the highest degree, if possible...be sharper than the taxman on taxes. Think of taxes this way, if your forking over 35% of the profit~~who are you working for? Be very sharp.

If your a Christian, always think 'First & the best Fruits', there is good reason to know about that, it works in everything you touch, IF your going that route, it is challenging, fun, and honourable.

By the way, I never sold or raised an orange in my life.

james beam
 
Rhoda Bruce
Posts: 9
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Thanks for all the info. A lot to cover. One thing is that 200 miles would need to be increased and I can only go north. However, its confusing to go to the local stores and find navel oranges from California when there are orchards in town. Can't go south....thats the Gulf of Mexico. As far as bees are concerned, DH and I are the only people in Cut Off who keep them. We tried putting bees in the orchard 3 times with bad results. Dad wanted us to have a colony there, to help us and him. Well the 4th go round, I told him I didn't think the bees were leaving on their own. I suspected sabatage. He agreed with me and we found a safer place. It seemed fine for a while, then it somehow was turned over. Put it right and we found it full of buckshot. Showed it to the police and put a game cam.....asked his advice. Then really don't know what went wrong, but the bees left. But perhaps now that DH and I are in control of the orchard and have to spend more time in the woods, we can put a colony of bees.
Now about planting beans to grow on the trees....well, I have to crawl to get to the base of the trees. But the family has been having trouble keeping the orchard cut and clean in the summer, so DH and I are talking about putting our ducks and geese in charge of grass control. Pasturing them in different sections, as we need a trim. Thinking that if we keep them in an area long enough to get rid of all grass, might be able to grow some pumpkin and melons......maybe make 2 really long rows between rows of trees to plant beans.
Someone on Sufficientself suggested me getting into a co-op. I can try and find one furthur north and see how that works for now. By next year I think I will be much more educated about my current problem and will have several permits and official looking papers, because I just can't run things like Mom and Dad....well, not unless I happen to get fired.
 
Posts: 59
Location: Virginia
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I read the "Beekeepers Lament" earlier this year from the library. In it, they discussed the problem with bees in the citrus orchards in Florida. Turns out, the latest greatest crop in florida is those little clementine oranges. However, to keep them seedless, you need to keep the bees out of the area. If the bees pollinate the clementine flowers, then the little oranges end up filled with seeds. If that happens, you will struggle to sell them for juice, getting only the lowest bottom line prices for them. According to the book, there was a big broohaha regarding it, and some laws that were trying to make beekeeping illegal near these orchards. That might explain the problems you've had with the beehive--if it was perceived as challenging another man's livelihood, I can see where someone might wish to make you reconsider. Not that I believe that's how things should be done, as I do not, but I'm just sayin.

You might wish to find out more about the community the orchard is in if you wish to try beekeeping there again. Are there orchards nearby that would find themselves threatened by your bees? It's worth knowing.
 
Rhoda Bruce
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The orchard belongs to my parents and they wanted the bees, because it would have been good for both of us. The problem is vandals. In all likelyhood, the vandals think I'm doing wrong by having such dangerous creatures. Of course they wouldn't be as dangerous, if the hive wouldn't be shot and knocked over. I have had so much trouble keeping bees on my parent's property. I can't see that it wouldn't be worse putting it on someone else's property. Its a big investment to put it in harms way. Besides with my fathers fractures, my husband's heart attack, homeschooling, a job, an orchard, chickens, ducks, geese, goats, gardens and studying herbology, I've got just about enough to keep my mind and body busy.
 
Posts: 94
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Orange's are such a glut in the market place, world wide. And not a particularly popular fruit with people being turned off by the need to peel them...Mandarins, being easier to peel, are much more valued for fresh eating. I personally would remove 3/4's of the trees and then diversify your orchard with a nut tree, an oil tree, and another variety of fruit. Avocado, mango, and macadamia nuts could all be worthwhile checking out. May even pay longer term to chuck in some jatropha for biodiesel and other fuel. The best thing about this approach is trying to create a longer season of harvest, less glut = more control on your income and more for you and your family and friends to consume, rather than having to rely upon an external market. Saving money is often easier than making money. The only other option would be to create a side business creating marmalades, sauces, or other preserved product. One main thing to remember, a perennial system suited to your rainfall and growing conditions requires less effort in the long term and can be managed in a way to give you a lot more time off than annual crops that need constant management. Cheers.
 
pollinator
Posts: 730
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Rhoda

Looks like you're facing a bit of a challenge and I hope you'll find something worth taking away from the forum. For my part I'll say you may need to prioritize so you can take on the world in bite size pieces, not all at once in one gulp. Eg. if you're stretched thin it's hard to initiate, learn, plan and explore a new business for the orange crop. Somebody mentioned community and surely you're not the only one in this situation; what are others doing? You may not want to copy that long term but at least it will give you a benchmark of what is SOP, that you could do right now w/a bit of certainty. While not producing any real money (it sounds like from what you said), it needn't compromise next years plans and if you have a lot on your plate then maybe breathing space w/out worrying about new stuff is the best way to go at this point.

Learning, planning and developing takes time and it sounds like you're still at the taking stock stage.

Best luck.


Rufus
 
Posts: 2
Location: Maine, USA
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Wow, wish I had this problem. I love oranges but can never afford it, haven't even had one in 2o12.
Can you try preserving the oranges instead of selling them now? Don't let anything go to waste. Do various things so even if you don't manage to sell them, they'll be of good use to you and your family and friends. But I think given all the varied things you can do, people will be curious and they'll buy it.
A lot of these things last almost a year stored in the fridge or a cool room (north facing mudroom?). So it's not an issue if they don't sell immediately, keep trying. Have friends and family bring some of these to work to sell to co-workers. Put a label or just some tape on the jar's lid with your name, phone number and email. Print usage suggestions to get people's mouth watering.

* Candied ginger peel
http://www.browniepointsblog.com/2009/01/12/recipe-the-best-candied-orange-slices-in-the-world/
So many uses!

* Lacto-fermented marmalade
http://www.sustainableeats.com/tag/nourishing-traditions-orange-marmalade/
Can be used not just to spread on bread, but to stir in yogurt, make cupcake frosting, pies. I would make a blackberry pie with a little marmalade.

* Speaking of pie:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/robert-e-lees-orange-pie/
Orange curd tarts, and if you put "orange curd recipes" in Google image search, you'll get lots of ideas. Oh no, now I really want that blackberry and orange marmalade pie with a little orange curd! You're killing me here!
* Orange rum cake and cupcakes?

* Preserved vegetables like: Lacto fermented orange-ginger carrots, or red cabbage and orange, which can be served as a side with meals
http://www.picklemetoo.com/2012/09/06/fermented-sweet-lemon-ginger-carrots/

* Drinks:
http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/bodacious-beverages
http://www.picklemetoo.com/2012/02/06/orange-ginger-beet-kvass/
http://www.deliciousobsessions.com/2012/01/52-weeks-of-bad-a-bacteria-week-2-orangina-lacto-fermented-orange-juice/ (scroll down)
Make a very concentrated juice concentrate to freeze, then you can use to dilute with water and drink or use in recipes throughout the year.

* Salad dressing
http://seaweedsnacks.blogspot.com/2012/05/orange-balsamic-dressing.html

I don't recommend canning, canning destroys nutrients. Lacto fermenting will increase nutrients and last just as long if not longer. Plus I bet every orange farmer and their cousin already can their oranges. You'll provide something different which will make people curious.

Ask a locally owned health food store if they have a room you can use two days per month for a couple of hours, put a flyer on the window and around town. Have a table and give out samples, show people how to use the different products you've made.

Hope some of this helps.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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bees need water, to cool themselves, and their hive too.
 
Posts: 13
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One of the biggest problems you'll have is that you are in the humid SE.

I grow several citrus var in SC and have the same problem they do in Florida. In places that are really humid, oranges have lots of juice and thin vesicle walls; making them a very messy fruit to peel.

Oranges meant to be hand fruit are grown in California. Florida oranges end up in orange juice.

If you decide to keep the oranges, consider what processed goods you could produce, juices, jams. fruit leather.
 
Rhoda Bruce
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I will be at a parish invited, farmer's market, Saturday. As I type, I am baking a pound cake, I altered to allow for orange juice....it formally had orange extract instead. I'm thinking I will go with about 8 boxes of fruit....maybe a little more. We can bag or sack them there. I am considering going with a few dishes, requiring oranges as samplers. If I like the Lb cake, I might make a few dozen to take along for sale. Also, I wonder if I should bring a page, photocopied, with about 7 recipes, calling for orange or orange juice.
I found a marmalade recipe I can try for longterm storage. Some of the recipes were raw to not kill the Vit C.
Well, this is what I'm doing now. I'm hoping next year I land a contract with someone, after I'm a bit more educated in marketing.
I was looking at the possibility of a lady coming down from TN with a wagon truck, picking it herself (although that was her idea, not mine) and paying for the fruit, but she hasn't been answering her phone or returning calls.
 
Posts: 518
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Where I live, there is a wholesale market where grocery chains buy in bulk to truck the fruit north, to sell in their stores. They buy both produce and flowers.

I do not know how you can find such a market: by google? By asking a grower who likes you? By asking the extension service?
 
pollinator
Posts: 2389
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Why dont you just plan your groundcover under the citrus trees.
I bet you could plant low-bush blueberry, strawberry, 20 different herbs, 40 different non-root vegetables.
Maybe even build 4ft trellis for vines(grape, kiwi).

Now if after a year your parents see that thats what the market wants then maybe they will let you remove 10% per year of the citrus to plant what the market wants.

Its a foodforest with a orange canopy layer LOL
 
James Slaughter
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Orange is an evergreen with a thick foliage, heavy feeding and competitive roots, and most trees will be planted close enough for harvesting. Therefor this would only work if trees were removed to make room for other crops, which I believe Rhoda has decided against. This being the case, running a limited number of geese (great lawnmowers) or ducks through the orchard to clean up pests is probably one of the only ways left in which the harvest could be diversified. A bee hive or two may also not go astray.
 
Posts: 94
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What ever happened to your orange orchard? I hope things are going well, especially with your parents. Have you considered grafting other citrus onto the trees to diversify? Did the ducks do well? Did the bees survive?
 
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