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An Insurmountable Marketing Hurdle

How am I going to get rich and famous on a suburban homestead? Not from the small bills dropped into the jar at our weekly farm stand. Not from giving a farm tour three times a month in the summer. Definitely not from inviting local kids to graze on our raspberries.

I'm coming to terms with being a subsistence farmer in a commodity world. I have taken farm marketing classes. I have done the enterprise budgets for selling squash at the farmer's market, for starting a goat dairy, for running full-time kids' programs. None of it pencils out into a modern salary, or sounds very fun to do all the time. If I think about giving 8 tours a week to tramping bands of tourists, the joy goes out of it for me--and for the land, I suspect. Well-meaning entrepreneurs and oodles of internet ads offer ways to "reach my target audience." But all the marketing efforts in the world are wasted when I have nothing I can sell in quantity.

As I look around the farm, there is more to give away than to sell. I get far more satisfaction from leaving fresh cucumbers on a neighbor's doorstep than from the $3 those cukes would bring at market. Yes, I know modern food is grossly underpriced, and I am not advocating for ignoring financial necessities. I do keep an eye on the farm and garden balance sheet. And that's exactly why it's clear to me that the point of diminishing returns comes quickly when I try to monetize my love for the land and my people.

This is quite a marketing hurdle. On a small, diversified, resilient homestead such as ours, there is no one product to focus on. Except perhaps stories, though even these arise as naturally from the rich soil of life as a squash seed pokes out of the garden. You're reading one of those stories now!

Yearly goat budget: $2,000. Goat squeezing: Priceless

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