SPEAKER 1: We've got probably, too many enterprises. It kind of goes with our schizophrenic nature.
SPEAKER 2: I choose vegetables because I know nothing about animals. I always loved plants, and I think that when I was an undergraduate in college, I realized I loved making things grow, and I loved plants.
SPEAKER 3: The animals and the crops we decided to start out with was just my knowledge of those things. We basically started with the things I knew best.
SPEAKER 1: Cheese can be shipped elsewhere, that's why we chose cheese of all the dairy products. It just was a what do you like? Because to be honest, in the beginning, you're going to eat a lot of it.
SPEAKER 4: The idea of growing flowers appealed to me because of the artistic merit.
SPEAKER 5: And as I tell many of my customers, it funds my obsession and that is gardening.
SPEAKER 6: The first factor that we seem to use in deciding on an enterprise is passion. If we're passionate about it, we're willing to put in the work and the effort that's necessary, sometimes for years.
SPEAKER 7: We chose fruit trees because fruit-- well, trees is what I'm trained in. I was a forester in college.
SPEAKER 3: I had a nice background in animal nutrition for almost 20 years, primarily in dairy. But being able to take that on farm job of nutrition-- selling feed and consulting-- I could see many different farm backgrounds and ideas. And it really prepared me for my eventual goal in life, to run my own business.
SPEAKER 8: I was trained as a family physician so I did family practice for over 20 years. I decided to go into the pastured meats, partly because as a physician, and as I did more research, I realized that our food system is heading in the wrong direction, as far as input-- what we're putting into our bodies.
SPEAKER 9: So we initially wanted to have an orchard-- a small orchard, even though we planted cold hardy varieties-- such as a Reliance peach which is supposed to be good to 30 below-- we find that the temperature swings here can be 40 degrees or more. And it's not the cold winters that do in the stone fruit, it's the temperature swings in the spring.
Therefore, it steered us away from the fruit, and put the focus more on vegetables. And I found that to be just as enjoyable, maybe even more enjoyable, than growing tree fruit.
SPEAKER 10: Somewhere along the line, we kind of realized that the farm that we're on-- which belongs to my in-laws-- is very heavy clay and, kind of roly, and it just is not completely suited to vegetables. And our friends would come out-- our vegetable farming friends-- and say, what are you doing here? You are crazy.
And we realized what we were working harder than we had to be, maybe, if we were on some land that was better suited to vegetables.
We started with bottled milk and ran the numbers and realized, we'd have to have a lot more cows to make that work, than with more value added product. Came to cheese and said, it's going to take us years to learn how to make cheese. We can't just go into it like that.
So then, we went to visit our friend who was a herd manager out in Hawthorne Valley, and their main product is also yogurt. And the cheese maker there told us to start with yogurt, and so that got us thinking along those lines and running those numbers. And running some batches in our own kitchen and realizing that this is something we could really do.
SPEAKER 3: But we're constantly trying different products, whether it's newer varieties of Asian melons, heirloom vegetables. That is some of the most exciting part of my job, of my life each year. Just trying new ventures, knowing that I have my own little research project going on, and seeing what works and what doesn't work.
SPEAKER 1: We're always willing to experiment with things that will fit within our farm infrastructure. We're not going to go raising something totally weird and that doesn't fit in with our existing buildings, or existing equipment, or existing philosophies, but I'm always open to making money doing something else. I'm totally cool with that.
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Farmers discuss how to choose what your farm produces. There may be an element of passion in your decision but it's a good idea to consider your goals, land and facilities, and markets too.
In the Voices of Experience series from the Beginning Farmers Resource Center, you'll find the kind of dirt-under-the-fingernails advice that can only come from someone who's been there.
The NY Beginning Farmer Project is led by a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators in partnership with the Cornell Small Farms Program. The project, launched in 2006 in response to increasing interest in farm start-ups, aims to enhance the likelihood of success of new ag enterprises by making the best resources and training available to new and diversifying farmers.