Painful Pivot: how we sold a 5% direct market crop; farmer series 6

This was the start of the most miserable harvest season I’ve experienced in 22 years.  Each day, I had a few employees start in rows that I thought would produce, while I’d dash inside to check my messages.  After 30 minutes, I’d go check on the employees, and they’d already be at the end of … Read more

Sustainable Agriculture Research Grant Report; farmer series 5

When we decided to grow our farm, we looked for ways to reduce our weather related risk by improving plant and soil health.  I applied for and received a grant from the MN Department of Agriculture.  As part of our research, we grazed our sheep on cover crops in a crop rotation with strawberries for … Read more

Diversification; farmer series 4

Risk Management: Diversification The old saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is so true for farmers!  As our strawberry crop grew larger and larger, our risk was increasing exponentially. Over 20 years, we slowly grew from a half acre, to nine acres of strawberries.  After each field growth, we thought we’d run … Read more

Insurance for Risk Management; farmer series 3

 We’ve come to the conclusion that we couldn’t have changed our harvest this year.  Each of those weather events, by themselves, wouldn’t have taken out our crop, but the combination of all four was catastrophic. Our attention has turned, instead, to risk management.  Risk Management comes in many different forms: Insurance Controlling the controllables, such … Read more

Why We Lost Our Crop; farmer series 2

“The plants broke dormancy in the heat in early March, forcing us to remove their straw blanket early. The extended cold in April froze our plant canopy. This exposed the blossoms to the frost on May 28, and the remaining strawberries have now been hammered with high heat.” (My Facebook post explaining why we couldn’t … Read more

Coping with Crop Loss; farmer series 1

Facebook post June 11, 2021: Dear strawberry friends, I’ve been trying to gather my courage to post to you… We have been experiencing catastrophic crop loss. …. We appreciate your graciousness and kindness as together we bring in the remainder of the harvest. Sarah Brouwer  After that heart-breaking post, I sat and watched the Facebook … Read more