Winter is downtime here on the farm, no field work to speak of except for an occasional harvest of vegetables from under the protected low tunnel hoops. We still have the laying hens to care for, firewood to split and haul, outbuildings to work on, and the main farmhouse is still being worked on slowly as well. But, there is much more time for office-type work... the farm's accounting books are slowly being worked through, seed orders are made, and plans are being made for our 2012 year. What will it look like? I'm asking myself that a lot.
My greatest goal for 2012 is to expand our CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture). 2011 was our first year for the CSA, and I loved the format and believe our CSA members enjoyed it as well. I'd like to cut back on my farmers market participation - this takes so much time to prepare for, 6 hours spent on attendance that could be used for farmwork, and there are so many unknowns.... how much to harvest, will it be a well-attended week or not (many weeks I actually lose money by attending), and more. I'd like instead to focus on the CSA and open an on-farm store (we're currently renovating one of the mobile homes that are located on our farm for this purpose). I have no idea yet when the on-farm store will be open (perhaps just weekends? Or perhaps weekday mornings as well?) - we'll need to make sure we're home on the farm during the open hours, but other than that we'll be able to work outdoors on farmwork in between customers.
What else? Oh yes, chicken and turkey meat. This is a BIG part of our plans for 2012 - we'll be offering our farm-raised poultry for sale. I'm currently in the process of applying for a USDA on-farm poultry processing exemption. So, we'll be able to butcher our own poultry for sale on our farm (unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to take this meat to farmers market since it was butchered on our own farm, but I can sell it directly on the farm).
I hope to have better, stronger seedlings this year due to our hoophouse being finished. This will allow me to raise many of the seedlings outside in this passive-solar heated "greenhouse", rather than raising them indoors under lights.
And lastly, I hope to take on more interns / apprentices this year. We have 2 mobile homes on the farm that were used as rentals by past farm owners. They are in various states of disrepair (our farm was purchased last winter as a foreclosure, and it wasn't in good shape), but we have 1 of the mobile homes about halfway renovated and we will have it completed by spring. This will house our farm store, and my husband's beer homebrewing setup, and we'll also leave 1-2 bedrooms plus the bathroom for interns.
What are your plans for 2012? Hopefully they involve eating more local foods - they taste so much better!