Congratulations, you have laid the foundation for your agricultural enterprise (see previous blog) and formally stepped into the world of farming. You are starting into your first season or, like us, maybe you have been doing things on a small scale and want to step into the commercial marketplace.
Stage 1 typically lasts about three seasons:
1. The first season, you are gathering up all the pieces and getting started. You have a budget, you have a plan for what you are going to grow, you have acquired basic tools, and you are starting to execute the plan. I bought a new tiller our first year, but I still had to learn how to till a straight row.
2. The second season, you are getting more organized and improvements are being made, but it still feels like you are out of your comfort zone. You are still learning about your farm. Financially, you have a plan and you continue to make a minimum strategic investment in tools.
3. The third season, you are refining the plan and you are starting to feel more comfortable. You have stopped doing some things that don’t work and are moving in directions that are both profitable and fit you and your operation.
By now, financially, you are starting to break even, if you don’t count all the time you have invested. Unless you have the good fortune to be building on a family farming legacy, you typically will not be able to generate enough income at this point to live completely on your farm income.
See future posts for “Stage 2—Becoming Self-sufficient,” “Stage 3—Becoming the Expert” and Stage 4—Building a Legacy.”