SPEAKER 1: We've been married 26 years, Karen and I. And when we were married in Washington state we both had the idea that someday we would like to be independent on a farming operation so we didn't have to go to a regular job.
SPEAKER 2: We really didn't intend to be farmers, but I knew about my partner's dream. So when I saw an ad for a class at a Cooperative Extension on starting your small farm dream, I suggested we take it, and we did. And that was really the impetus for planning this startup.
SPEAKER 3: Well, when we first began the intention was to have a large garden for the family. And the orchard, because where I grew up in west Michigan was primarily orchards and that was a big interest. I wanted to have an orchard to sell some fruit locally.
SPEAKER 4: The initial goals we had were we started very basic. We wanted to be out in the country and own some land and then eventually start sustaining ourselves and feeding ourselves. And that started with annual crops and vegetable production. And then we moved that right into meat production and eggs and swine and beef.
SPEAKER 5: I didn't go into this with a lot of goals. My whole goal in life is to have an arboretum of my own, my own park. This is just basically funding that dream.
SPEAKER 6: I don't want to farm just-- it's not my hobby. This is my job. And I want it to be fruitful, and I want to be able to provide vegetables to this community.
SPEAKER 2: Well, my partner and I had different ideas about how we were going to start the business. His idea was that we would eat everything we could and can everything we could, and what was left we would sell. My idea was we'd sell everything we could and eat what was left. And that's what we ended up doing.
SPEAKER 4: Then after I felt real comfortable sustaining ourselves and other parts my family and friends and developing some marketing ideas, I started branching out.
SPEAKER 7: One of the goals I had when I first started this process was the fact that, number one, I saw people in the age of 30 to 40 interested in growing grapes. So my goal was, if the winery helped promote this whole viniculture industry up here, that would make me very happy.
SPEAKER 2: The initial goals, as I recall them, had to do with having a product that people valued that would get them to come to our stand again and again. We were looking for return customers. Financially, we wanted to finance the operation without getting into debt.
SPEAKER 8: Ideally, my goal is to, probably in another five years, get out of medicine completely, retire from that fully, and then spend more on the farm.
SPEAKER 3: I think we did have a goal of wanting to ensure that the produce we grew was of the best quality that we could.
SPEAKER 7: We grow our cold-hardy varieties, make excellent wine. And when people come here and they taste our wine, they want more of it.
SPEAKER 2: We wanted to develop products that would be high end. We decided to go certified organic, which is more costly to produce goods under that rubric. And so we wanted to be able to price our products so that we could eventually be self-sustaining and be profitable and have enough income from the farm so that neither of us would have to work outside of the farm.
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If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there? Seasoned farmers talk about the importance of setting goals for your farm.
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.