Grow in Grace Market Gardens enters the books of history.
At least, one of the few chapters that exist in my life book. And as I look back, it has done exactly what it was intended to do. Grow me. And grow others. It grew friendships, it grew my relationship with God. It was time well spent. And the Lord willing, the experience will serve many well into the future.
I’m leaving this website up for now as an example. It was a good amount of work to put together, and practically turned out as an WordPress masterpiece. Aspects of the site and the marketing strategies we put together are bound to be useful where I am going.
One thing is abundantly clear. God gave us (and me) what we could manage. I had great aspirations of a far greater magnitude, and really wondered why some things never took off like I expected. But God had a plan in this.
It would be wise to clarify something, and that is in writing what I am in this post, my desire is to be in the center of God’s will. If He chooses to lead a different direction, I am called to go. And how could I be disappointed? God is interested in your happiness. Somehow we just don’t believe this as much as we could. But He really is seriously interested in making you the happiest person on earth. Despite the pain and suffering we are sometimes called upon to endure for His sake. That in itself is to be our joy. Not a forced joy, but a real, deep satisfaction.
There are some clear lessons that I have learned from this enterprise that I will outline, to hopefully aid some aspiring farmer that comes along the way:
- Start simple. With fewer crops (utilize cover crops to keep diversity and ground cover).
- Specialize in something. Like tomatoes and micro-greens. Or Garlic and Kale.
- Don’t do a CSA. Absolutely do an online market. (Historically this should’ve been one in-person farmers market, and I received no kind of online marketing training, so it probably could’ve been better.) CSA just adds a lot of stress! Because you have to meet a certain quota, when you should be focusing on improving your systems and building infrastructure.
- Wholesale is a great way to go. But keep in mind that with this you need to develop consistency. Thankfully I had a really great produce manager to work with who was flexible.
- Start small and break up your land into manageable sections, don’t try to do it all at once. Especially if you are only one person with no tractor! We cleared three acres with a borrowed tractor and an excavation contractor. And spent a ton of money in doing so. I was kind of pressured but also ran my naivety wild.
- Save up money and buy a tractor. Maybe spend multiple years working another trade full time and strictly keep the market garden a side hustle until the time you are spending on it is substantially profitable. I was living at home when I started and it worked fine until my folks moved. Long story short anyway.
- Be super kind to your competitors.
- Don’t label produce with the word organic, unless you want to get your content audited by the USDA or pursue a certification that makes sense for many, just I wouldn’t recommend it to a starting out farmer. And if you can avoid it that is all the more independent you are in a world where powers are vying for control of your life.
- Be open to God’s leading. Don’t hold on too hard to what you have in case He wants to give you something way better!
Most new farms don’t survive beyond year two, and way fewer beyond five. We did three. However, the twist to the story is I’ve been given the opportunity to do my dream job. Which is to market garden at a three hundred acre farm that has a school on it, so I get to also train young people in agriculture. I praise the Lord, and am so excited to start this new venture.
Now I must say this hasn’t always been my dream job, but deep inside, it is what I have wanted. I just thought that I would have to build it myself rather than be provided with the opportunity so soon. It is God’s doing, is all I can say.
This evening I just watched a video by a friend that I really resonated with. Like really seriously resonated with. Character is the most important thing in life, and relationships. Those two are the only things we take to heaven. When God placed man in a garden He certainly had a purpose. And I am so thankful to be able to find my calling in that purpose, which is to grow characters for eternity. And certainly, I must examine my own character. Have I been faithful in that which was least? Will I be faithful in that which is much? Will I allow Christ to continue to transform my character to reflect His image? Will I continue to put forth my own human effort so He can take it and apply His own divine power?
I tried to go to sleep. Right before watching the video and writing this. It was a fairly melancholy day. I was ready to be done with it and awake early tomorrow. But somehow writing this post was on my heart and God wouldn’t let me go to sleep. I was following my feelings. The. Worst. Mistake. We make it way way too often.
So if you’re tired, ask Him to blow cold air on your face! Then go run in the snow. If you’re feeling hopeless, ask Him for hope, then write down what you are thankful for! If you are depressed, ask Him for cheerfulness, and then smile and go give someone a compliment. If you feel you are about to fall into a sin, cry out for help! Then run from the temptation with all your might. Foes are to be faced. Fears are to be conquered. Apply the same thought process.
And if you are in despair, feeling that you are lost and un-savable, remember that He died to take those sins. Though a time is coming very soon where intercession will cease, He is still the same God of forgiveness today as He was yesterday. To every sincere soul who has repented of sin, and claimed Christ as his personal Savior, there is a place granted him in heaven. And a great assurance of salvation we may have! Remember, God looks at the heart. For the sincerely repentent, those sins will be blotted out. And you will never be able to recall them when that time comes. Look to Jesus, and you will indeed find a power that transforms. It can transform anyone. Anyone!
Don’t ever think you can be saved by what you do! Or what someone else does, for that matter. Faith is all that is required. Then He will work through you to do His good pleasure. Nope, it won’t be easy, but it does give you a hope and a joy to get through anything. This world is temporary, but Jesus’ salvation will last for a ceaseless eternity. Just the fact that we have a concept of eternity is a very strong piece of evidence to suggest it is more than a possibility. The Word of God says, “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
Yep, and that applies to all we do, when we work the soil. No superstitions or crazy potions, nor chemicals or franken-plants needed. Just faith. A good measure of hope, and a whole ton of love. And Grace like a rushing river.
Alrighty folks! That’s all for tonight.
At your service,