I, like many of you, are probably looking at your taxes for last year. Going through the numbers something jumped out at me, our advertising budget. It was tiny. It almost made me feel sorry for the little fella. I wanted to go out and buy a billboard or paint a bus or hire a dude in a gorilla outfit to spin a banana with the words, “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic!” But then I drank a cup of half-caff Chai tea and calmed down. No crazy expenditures this week.
Looking at these numbers made me question something though. How the heck can we continue to grow when we only spend .7% (don’t miss the decimal there kids) of our entire budget on advertising? And the answer is so simple, our members do the advertising for us. We are fortunate.
So coming into February, I thought that we should try something new to thank you for all your hard work you do in spreading the good word about the farm. Having you spread the word for us allows us to keep your money in building you a better farm rather than printing coupons.
Therefore, the editors at HaulMark and I have gotten together to declare this February the “Good Friends, Good Food” month. And how this will work is pretty straight forward. For every new member you bring to the farm this month, you will receive a $20 credit to your account after their second order. We have never done this before, but I feel pretty confident that our members can tell our story better than any advertising is able to do. So let’s try this out for the month and see how it works. You find people interested in eating better and we will give you free food.
Back to the farm now. We are coming into the last month of our “off-season.” I love calling it that because there ain’t much “off” about this time of year. But still it is cold outside so we cannot call it our season either. Regardless of what you call it, March 1st is when things really amp up. That is when we can finally get plants back into the open fields. We have pushed it into February in the past, but it never works out well. The fields are too sleepy in February. But March is when the magic returns.
So February is our last chance to get drip irrigation supplies ordered, row cover to protect the plants from frost, wind and bugs, and to make sure fresh seeds are ready to hit the soil. A very exciting and anxious time around the farm. In addition to all the supplies we order, we also start stocking up our barn with interns as well. And seeing as how it is supposed to snow tonight and it is too early to talk about Chinch Bugs, let’s talk about our internship program.
When people hear or think about an internship they think about businesses trying to find cheap labor. A loophole. But for me and our farm this could not be further from the truth. Our internship program is a gateway drug to try and get folks to call a farm their office. I hold this type of hands-on training very dear because it was the path that I took to take a green thumb and forge a lifestyle.
I lived in tents, teepees, and trailers on other farms to develop the skills that I thought I needed to start my own farm. And after three years of training, it was time to launch my own. Now in all honesty, I probably needed more training than I had received, but I had a solid enough foundation to take the leap.
Now, 15 years later, I can look back at that move to intern on a farm as one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I also look around at our employees and see that we employee 10 of our former interns. And not all at the farm. In the office, in the fields, in the warehouse, and behind the wheel. Our interns have been/are/will be an integral part of our mission as a farm and as a business. Teaching the next generation of growers does not only build up our farm, but it shapes the future of the local food scene.
So our goal is not only to train these farmers in the field, but we also want to impart on them that New Mexico is a viable place to run a sustainable farm. The demand is here. We want to see more hands in the dirt and more food in your belly. Slowly but surely we are getting there.