These last three months I feel like I’ve been living in Acronym-MANIA as I dive a little, nay, a lot, deeper into the farm business. With acronyms like the USDA, NRCS, FSA, EIN, BTR, WAMS, DTM, LLC, to name a few, how’s a girl to keep it all straight? Lucky for you, I’m about to give you all the deets on those seemingly random combos of letters. I promise it won’t be boring – much. <winky face>
Let’s start with the more commonly known acronyms, LLC and EIN
Yes, we have both – Woot! We filed for a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) last spring. The LLC establishes us as a business and provides some protection if all goes to crap. When we filed we also got something called an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is so we can someday hire employees since we’re planning to grow this business Jack-and-the-Beanstalk style – BIG and fast.
Our official farm name is Fresh Roots Farm and Gardens, LLC. Nick chose it because we’re growing baby root vegetables (e.g. carrots, radishes, turnips, beets) and because we’re putting down fresh roots in Cumberland as a family (Yup, Peeps of Cumberland, you’re stuck with us for awhile – hopefully).
Moving on to the USDA, NRCS, and the FSA
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that offers funding in the way of grants to new farmers who would like to or are using sustainable farming techniques that promote conservation of their land. We decided to apply for a grant to help us purchase another greenhouse since the more covered crops, the longer the growing season, and the more food can be produced.
But first, before applying for the grant, we had to establish our farm with our local Farm Service Agency (FSA) another division of the USDA. Check, check, check! Now we wait for the director of our local NRCS to come out and take a look at our property to see if we qualify. Fingers crossed!
Here’s the DL on WAMS and BTR
I’m still not sure what BTR and WAMS stand for, though I have one of each – hold a sec while I look these up. (I literally just googled, “What does WAMS mean?”)
After contacting the wrong people and hitting a few dead ends, I finally landed on the Wisconsin Department of Revenue website where I registered for a Web Access Management System (WAMS) account (google delivered!). I’m still not sure how this will help me, but it has something to do with taxes and the seller’s permit we need, which brings me to the next acronym. In order to obtain a seller’s permit, which is required to sell our veggies and flowers, we had to apply for a Business Tax Registration (BTR) number. Check! Now we just wait the 5-7 business days to receive our seller’s permit – I think.
Now, for something a little more exciting – the greenhouse, farmers markets, crop list and cut flowers + our last acronym, DTM
Perhaps you’ve already seen on Instagram, but our greenhouse is up and covered! Nick also designed and built a seeder table inside. Next on the agenda? Putting in heat and crop tables.
After discussing what we feel capable of delivering our first year and the client base we want to build, we reached out to a few farmers markets and were accepted at two of them – check again!
We ordered and received our seeds and will start/plant many of them in the next couple of weeks. Our crop list includes lettuces (arugula, spinach, spring mix, kale), micro greens (radish, peas, and broccoli), Sunflower shoots, red and golden beets, radishes, carrots, turnips, garlic, tomatoes, and cucumbers, to name most. We chose most of our crop list based on their Days to Maturity (DTM). In other words, how many days it takes from the time you plant till you can harvest. The lower the DTM, the more times you can harvest in a season. This is one way to help create profit.
We’re also going to try our hands at growing and selling cut flowers. We have absolutely no experience here, but such is this entire adventure. Nick and I took an online class on growing and selling cut flowers, so we’re ready to…keep referencing those online modules and our notes till we grow a gorgeous bouquet. We’ll be growing zinnias, asters, dahlias, sunflowers, anemones, snap dragons, along with various greenery and airy fillers.
So, what’s next for us?
We still have loads of infrastructure to build, like constructing a wash and pack station, putting in a French drain tile system to redirect water to our pond so the garden doesn’t flood, and design and implement an irrigation system.We also have all of our branding and marketing work to do, like designing a logo and website, social media accounts and designing what our farm stand will look like.
This building-a-business thing has been challenging and overwhelming, but also very fulfilling. I mean, we’re actually dreaming out loud and in action.
I’d like to end with this quote from my amazing sister-in-law who is a production BA and owns her own production company, “You just do it. I didn’t know how to start a company, but I did.” Yeah you did. #girlboss