Organic Farmer October/November 2019



By TAMMY HOWARD | NCAT/ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Specialist


has moved beyond farmers markets

to mainstream grocery stores. As

consumers become more interested in

purchasing local foods, chain grocery

stores from Walmart to Safeway tout

their support of local farmers and are

trying to back it up by purchasing from

local or regional farmers. At the same

time, many established farmers want

to move out of time-consuming, often

saturated, direct marketing channels

such as farmers markets and community

supported agriculture models.

What is “Scaling Up?”

One approach is essential, however—

scaling up requires planning. Planning

for improvements and growth within

your operation can help alleviate

growing pains and excessive debt. This

article will include some strategies, but

your approach will depend on your

existing resources and markets, as well

as how much risk you are comfortable


Considerations for Farm Growth

Perhaps the most important question to

ask yourself when considering expanding

your farm and farm markets is why?

Does the expansion align with your

farm goals? Is it going to significantly

affect your quality of life—for better

or for worse? Consider revisiting your

goals. If you have not developed goals

Continued on Page 6

In a recent article titled “How to know

when to scale up,” in Growing For

Market newsletter, Jed Beach a farm

consultant and farmer at 3 Bug Farm

says this term is used a lot by service

providers and consultants to signify

an expansion in scale of marketing

channels, production area or animal

numbers to meet regional marketing

demands for local foods. He argues

that for the most part there are better

ways for farmers to meet their quality of

life and profitability goals than a farm

expansion. It is important to keep in

mind that there is not a one-size-fits-all

approach to expanding your farm.

Gardens of Eagan started focusing on wholesale production initially as a certified organic supplier to

the coop chain in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Eventually the farm was bought by the coop to be a

direct supply chain for the farm. As of 2015 the coop was considering selling the land as it was in a

highly desirable suburban corridor. See:

All photos courtesy of Tammy Howard, NCAT.


Organic Farmer October/November 2019

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