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  • Question for the Farmers

    For any forum members who consider themselves farmers--either small farm or large, orchard owners, etc. Where and what types of crops do you grow? Are figs a part of your main rotation? I imagine with the ease of propagation, they'd be a great crop.
    Zone 7a in Virginia

  • #2
    We grow peaches, pluots, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. We u-pick the berries and sell the stone fruit from the farm. We do not grow figs for sale at this time. The reason I don't is that I live in Oregon and I don't kow what kind of market there would be for figs. We may try on a small scale after I find what varieties grow well in our hot summer 7a climate

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    • SarinaP
      SarinaP
      Senior Member
      SarinaP commented
      Editing a comment
      How fantastic! My husband and I are considering it for our retirement plan--I've always had good luck with fruit trees and the U-pick culture is huge here in Virginia. If you have a blog I'd love to read about your farm!

    • Harborseal
      Harborseal
      Senior Member
      Harborseal commented
      Editing a comment
      There were 2 people selling figs at the Roseburg FM. They sold out every time. Usually in less than an hour. I helped 1 couple with their orchard of about 70 trees. The other seller had a much smaller supply. Back then (2010) they were $7.99/lb.

  • #3
    This year is my first year making money farming.... Although it's a small amount and I'm still working part time. We sell honey bees and produce currently, but perennial fruits are close on the vorizon for us. be mindful of your markets and start small cause making a living farming is a tough row to hoe.

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    • SarinaP
      SarinaP
      Senior Member
      SarinaP commented
      Editing a comment
      Great advice--we're thinking of a combination orchard (probably peach and fig)/cutting flower fields and wedding venue somewhere further south. Nothing more than about 10 acres, I'd say. I have farmers' market experience as a baker and online selling experience as well. We could also do a fruit CSA instead of a Upick setup, with seasonal deliveries to nearby restaurants, city dwellers, etc.

    • FarmerD
      FarmerD commented
      Editing a comment
      sounds like you have a handle on it already. youre more brave than me to take on peaches. some of the biggest peach farms in the south east are an hour or so from me, and those guys are spraying the bejesus out of their peaches

  • #4
    I grow figs and blackberries, and I'm propagating cider apples for a future orchard. It's not my primary income source.

    Be careful with u-pick. It sounds better than it is. You'll need to do the cost/benefits analysis and see if you need a crew to do clean-up pickings (i.e. u-pickers won't pick everything. You need to get the fruit out of there for disease control, and to make some profit off it). I know some u-pick operations that don't do any picking, and the one thing they all have in common is no profit.

    Originally posted by SarinaP View Post
    I imagine with the ease of propagation, they'd be a great crop.
    Ease of propagation doesn't really matter for orchard establishment. The cost of the trees is not a major orchard establishment cost anyways.
    smatthew
    Senior Member
    Last edited by smatthew; 03-16-2016, 04:22 PM.
    Fig & Blackberry Farmer in Sunol, CA.

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    • #5
      Originally posted by smatthew View Post
      Ease of propagation doesn't really matter for orchard establishment. The cost of the trees is not a major orchard establishment cost anyways.
      I second this

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      • #6
        Sarina this is a great topic! I admit that I have been daydreaming of doing something similar down the road as we get closer to our retirement years. I will definitely be following this topic with great interest! Thank you to all who have shared your thoughts and experiences already, and to you Sarina for starting a great thread
        My Plant Inventory: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...HZcBjcsxMwQ7iY

        Cuttings Available 2022:
        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...fxsT1DuH8/edit

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      • #7
        My inspirations for this daydream are Burnside Farm in Haymarket, VA and Khimaira Farm in Luray, VA. I've been to two weddings at Khimaira now--it's just a converted barn wedding venue and they do a beautiful job. I spoke to the owners and they simply renovated an existing long goat barn into an open air reception hall and have since added on a landscaped pasture, pond, etc. Burnside Farms is located smack dab in the middle of suburbia--seriously, less than 3 minutes from my in-laws' awful mcMansion neighborhood--and they created their own little spring festival and u-Pick flower fields. They charge admission for the "festival" and per stem for daffodils, tulips, sunflowers, etc. I love the idea of perennial flower u-Picks in conjunction with a small orchard for a farm stand, combined with a wedding venue and landscaped pastureland with pavilions for event rentals like family reunions, etc.
        Zone 7a in Virginia

        Comment


        • Jamie0507
          Jamie0507
          Moderator
          Jamie0507 commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow! Now that really sounds AHHH-mazing Sarina! That's all it seems to take is finding the right niche to fill these days and you could make a nice living off of doing something you really love.. This is great fodder for my daydreams btw! Lol!

        • SarinaP
          SarinaP
          Senior Member
          SarinaP commented
          Editing a comment
          I promised my husband I'd take at least a year to explore various business plans, research the logistics, etc.

        • FarmerD
          FarmerD commented
          Editing a comment
          check with your local extension office..... there is probably a "new and beginning farmer/rancher" class in your area. the main focus of the class is really thinking through your business plan and how youre not only going to grow all your wares, but how you plan to sell them too

      • #8
        I haven't made any money at it yet but I have been working on it for a couple of years. Here is most of the fruit I have http://growcrazie.com/index.php/fruit-varieties , the site is still a work in progress. I plan on selling mostly plants and scion. I also have started propagating landscape plants, Mostly flowering shrubs and trees.
        Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
        Buffalo WV Z6

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        • Jamie0507
          Jamie0507
          Moderator
          Jamie0507 commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow you have so many great varieties of just about EVERYTHING! Love the website and the in depth descriptions you have as well.. I will definitely be looking you up in the future

        • Thepodpiper
          Thepodpiper
          Member
          Thepodpiper commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm not sure about West Virginia but here in mi. selling annuals is no problem but raising and selling perennials is a whole different ballgame with all sorts of red tape.

        • growcrazie
          growcrazie
          Senior Member
          growcrazie commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, I try to add some new stuff every year. This year I am adding a few figs. The web site is taking a long time, it seems like it will never get done.

          Selling here isn't to bad I just have to have a inspection every year

      • #9
        Sarina, choosing figs as a fresh-fruit crop faces a four-pronged disadvantage. They do not ripen off of the tree, they do not ripen all at once, (indeterminate) the window of their peak ripeness is very small, and their shelf-life is very, very short.
        CA 9b "May you sit under your own fig tree..." This metaphor, in use since Solomon, is a wish for the receiver's spirit to know peace, for their family to be secure, and for their life to be fruitful.

        Comment


        • SarinaP
          SarinaP
          Senior Member
          SarinaP commented
          Editing a comment
          All great points, thank you! For those, I imagine selling at a farmers' market. I've spoken to two vendors at the Alexandria Market and they sell figs when they're in season, first-come, first served. One vendor even sells his neighbors' figs for her.

      • #10
        I have an acquaintance who has (had) weddings at their flower farm. Very, very nice setting. But there were downsides. Zoning prevented them from having more than 10 ceremonies per year. They also had sound/noise limits, and parties could not go too late. And traffic issues (parking). The largest problems however were dealing with brides (and immediate family) with unrealistic expectations of what could be done. Plus guests who did not respect their property. I think it was relatively good money.. but the aggravation was not worth it.

        I wish we had more U-pick places locally. We had an apricot U-pick I loved. But they closed last year forever because they just could no longer deal with the public. Now they sell at farmers' markets and special orders. Maybe it was more of a problem here because we don't have U-picks and people didn't know how to behave.
        SoCal, zone 10.
        www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

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      • #11
        Yeah, farming sounds romantic, but mostly it's not. Its early mornings, late nights, sore muscles, profitability is questionable most days, and it always wants more investment. There's a reason everyone's not planting a market garden right this second. You have to plan really well, really far out time wise and be ready to adapt to every posible flood, drought, pest problem, nutrient deficiency, slow markets, crop failure, machinery breakdowns, illness, etc, etc...... All I can say is good luck. It really is as tough as it sounds. It's not as easy as you think to pull dollar bills outta the dirt.

        Comment


        • FarmerD
          FarmerD commented
          Editing a comment
          That's a heartbreaker. I lost about %60 of my hives this winter to the crazy weather and never ending rain. Nonetheless, we persevere

        • SarinaP
          SarinaP
          Senior Member
          SarinaP commented
          Editing a comment
          I love hearing from everyone... All of this advice is much appreciated. I've had an office job for over 20 years and my boss has a contract option for me to keep writing up his research wherever I go. My husband is an electrician and will keep working... This is more about us getting out of the congested suburbs of DC and what we would do if we could do anything at all. I took 2009 off to do farmers markets with my baking and that's when the seed was planted, so to speak. I loved everything about it... I became the in-house baker for a local orchard during their apple season and it really appeals to me. I don't want to end up like my parents, retired in their 70s with a bunch of money but too achy to do do anything with it. I went back to the office job after my boss asked me back, but half of my heart is out there at the market.

        • FarmerD
          FarmerD commented
          Editing a comment
          follow you dream! for all the heartache, theres nothing more rewarding than thinking up something, doing it, and getting paid

      • #12
        I sold tomato and pepper seedlings for a few years and did pretty well with it. You have to find a niche because selling something that the big box stores sell just doesn't work.

        If any of the big box stores sold it you would not find it at my house.

        Once i get my greenhouse finished this year i will start up again.

        It truly is a lot of work growing 2000 pepper plants in my basement.
        Garden Pics
        http://s117.photobucket.com/user/the...?sort=3&page=1

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      • #13
        There are a lot of beginning farmer programs - I went to one called the "California Farm Academy". Not only did we learn about growing crops, but we also learned how to put together a business plan. I bet there's a similar program in your neck of the woods. It was well worth it for the knowledge, field experience, and networking.
        Fig & Blackberry Farmer in Sunol, CA.

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