Farmer Meg’s/ Homestead at Seven Arrows
I’m a female farmer in New Jersey. For the past 5 years I’ve been operating a small diversified CSA serving 50 families.
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. I was a city kid through and through. That is, until my grandmother took me for a trip to the old family home place in Virginia where our relatives had farmed corn and tobacco and hay for generations. I knew after my experiences visiting my ancestral home that I wanted to live a life with a deep connection to the land. It has always made sense to me and it’s this now existing relationship that I pride myself most on.
I currently farm in coastal New Jersey, just an hour from New York City. It’s really great to be so close to a big city and all of the culture and customer base, while still having the space to tend things that grow and enjoy nature and quiet.
It’s my hope that I can take what I’ve learned in the past few years and shift my focus to the most profitable and impactful aspects of my business. I want to be able to buy a small farm with my longterm partner Neil one day, once my business is generating enough income to do so.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
Our farm functions as a diversified CSA and homestead. We currently grow about an acre of market vegetables, herbs and flowers. We have a flock of egg laying hens and dairy goats for goat’s milk soap making. All of these items are purchased either in advance through our CSA (we have 50 families this year) or at two farmers markets that we sell at during the growing season.
The biggest challenge of this business, for me, is that on this scale it is incredibly difficult to become profitable. The yields are small when you only grow on an acre and the amount of labor that goes into each facet is costly. I have previously made the mistake of trying to do it all, but over the years I have learned that certain facets of the farm are more profitable than others for the amount of effort made. I’d like to narrow my focus on the products that have the greater profit margins. Those items are our goat’s milk soap and fresh cut flowers.
Our customers, both at farmers markets and through CSA, buy these goods readily and have only glowing praise for them. Many of our customers have been members since the farm’s inception in 2013. I’m humbled by our customers enthusiasm and loyalty.
My goal is to grow our soap business to have a strong online presence but also I’d like to have a presence at farmers and artisan markets, where I feel like our products have the most visual impact. As an added product, I’d like to have fresh cut flowers available to sell at market, since they are the most profitable per square foot of field use and they are beautiful and great at enticing people to come into your stand.
I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve been able to engage and satisfy the needs of our customers so far. I would love to have the means to improve our products and make them more readily available in the future.
What is the purpose of this loan?
This loan will help to cover costs of some materials (oils, soap molds and cutters) and equipment (mixers) as well as labor costs associated with transitioning and increasing production. We would also like to pay a packaging designer to improve our labels and a web designer to improve our online store.
This loan will allow me to phase out of facets of my business that are not profitable. It also means that the quality of my life will likely improve, as I am not trying to juggle multiple duties and will be allowed to focus on the most promising products from our farm.
Years in operation: 3 years – 5 years