Market Garden Business Plan

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That sounds about right to me, on the basis that you’d be producing the fertility elsewhere (so yes, probably halve that for in situ organic production).

But it does of course depend on what you grow, and why.

Asparagus is another one we’ve grown, but it’s too high value for sale routes like veg boxes.

The last flush of the winter salads in the polytunnels helps bridge the hungry gap.

And you’d need to produce about 10,000 individual veg items over the year.

If you put about 1kg of potatoes in each box, I reckon most small-scale organic growers would need about 10 beds of potatoes – so that’s a third of our space gone already, and we still need to find another 9,000 items!If you have the polytunnel space, there are of course also lots of crops that you can bring through early.But we find that generally it’s not worth it – the extra price you get is cancelled by the extra inputs required, and there are better uses for precious tunnel space.But if you’re a small organic grower cropping on about an acre, chances are there’s someone else around growing potatoes who has a bigger tractor than you.And they’ll probably be selling bulk retail at 20p per kilo, which would bring your returns down to around £25 per bed if you tried to match them.I’d guess that we clear about £12-14,000 from the market garden. But it does depend on business style – are you growing a lot of staple root vegetables with mechanisation or running a more labour-intensive operation focusing on high value summer crops?The wholesale purchases don’t in themselves affect the returns all that much, but the middleman aspect of the business probably increases our profits a little – it was ever thus. We’ve moved over time somewhat from the former to the latter, and winnowed down what we grow for commercial sale quite a lot.Hence, I suppose, the journey charted on this blog: from prospecting a future of small commercial farms plying their trade, I’ve become more interested in the path of the substantially self-reliant latter-day homesteader.Luckily for me, there’s currently a great group of people leading on the market gardening side of the farm, with fairly minimal input from me.While offering sincere thanks to our loyal customers, I must ruefully acknowledge that ultimately there’s a cold logic to the price of labour and the price of diesel which can’t really be averted in present economic circumstances.I got into this because I thought good things would come of communities providing for themselves, not because I wanted to grow exotic salad garnishes at prices to make a market shopper’s eyes water.


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