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Growing Farm Profits Training IS Growing Farm Profits!

Southern SAWG, with funding support from the Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC) and with the able assistance of Community Farm Alliance, recently completed an evaluation of the long term economic impact of the Growing Farm Profits trainings that Southern SAWG has sponsored over the past several years. These trainings are specifically designed to help diversified vegetable farmers understand the many variables effecting their profitability and ways they can manage for profitability in their everyday farming activities and decision-making.

I ran a farm in North Carolina and we had 3 high tunnels with 3/8 acre and we went from $15,000 to $38,000 to $52,000 in three years. specifically because we analyzed our records (sales and money/sq ft) and whatever didn't make money we cut out. That's what made it go from 15 to 52 with the same amount of inputs.

Ellen Polishuk, of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Virginia, hosts the Growing Farm Profits Veggie Compass series.

Ellen Polishuk, of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Virginia, hosts the Growing Farm Profits Veggie Compass series.

The purpose of this study was to determine impacts of these Growing Farm Profits trainings after training participants had had at least two seasons to make use of resources provided and implement lessons learned. Surveys were sent to 180 participants and we had a 20% response rate from those who received the survey. In addition, follow-up phone interviews were held with seven participants to get a more thorough understanding of how farmers were utilizing resources and lessons learned. The overall conclusion from our long-term feedback is that the Growing Farm Profits trainings have been very effective for most participants and that there has been significant economic benefit. Farmers estimated an average annual increase in profits of $740 each with a projected annual increase in profit of $1290. 

“We have been using Veggie Compass for two years now and it directly influences our farmers market pricing.”

Of course we also learned about some areas where we can make improvements to the trainings and Southern SAWG and our partners will be working to incorporate these suggestions into future training efforts. For more information about this study, feel free to contact Southern SAWG. The tools and resources for the Growing Farm Profits training are also available free online.

“It has allowed us to see what volume really makes it profitable at farmers markets. You have your cost of production and then your cost once you arrive at market so it shows you how much just the time and mileage add to your cost and makes you think about volume.  It made us really think about scale and volume--we need to be twice as big going twice as fast.”