Farm Planning 2 of 3

Spring is here (and by that I mean 1 am a month from greenhouse planting, termperatures are back into the 30s at times and most of my seeds have arrived). It is also the season of the spreadsheet! One of my favorite tools there is. Not for the reason you may think - automation or processing of secret information - but because of the way it streamline my thought process. Next week I will talk more about what data I collect and incorporate and the steps before and after the spreadsheet but for many people someone else's spreadsheet is a way into CSA and market gardening.

Spreadsheets- you can make excel and other programs do a lot for you but in many of my spreadsheets I do not because I come to understand and know my crop plans from seed, to field to harvest in the thought process of looking at individual data again and again. For example I can have excel calculate first harvest for a crop by taking a field transplanting date or seeding date and adding days to maturity. In the first years of planning this can be helpful and fast but as my knowledge grows I interestingly want less automation and more control. For instance Imperial broccoli like many crops matures a many different speeds based on day length and heat. This difference in speed caused my multi-variety plantings last season (gypsy and imperial – in 2 successions of both crops 2 weeks apart) to collide creating broccoli mania. Luckily a school we were working with was able to take all their broccoli in a single week and CSA members enjoyed a bounty as did chefs and market goers. Under different market conditions we would have been dumping beautiful broccoli- eesh. So speadsheets, unless they are taking into account variable temperatures and seasonal variability are not the end all be all. They are a great tool for creating a vision for a season, incorporating ideas for marketing into real planting amounts and last but not least for communicating the vision to others (including farm partners, employees, organic inspectors and friends). My 2017 spread sheet planning is almost complete. I am back in charge of it for this season at least and it was exciting since I was working on some new ideas (like super high quality greens every week) and the balance between CSA, Wholesale, and Markets is much different than the past (CSA has always been the number one priority, and while it still is, my estimates for wholesale and market are way more refined).

You can see my 2016 plan here with a 2017 edition with additions will be posted in a few weeks.

 Happy planning and for folks in the south planting!

Kat @ Cattales @ Cattail Organics