Real Local RVA’s May 2019 Meeting
“Mitigating the Crazy”
with farming consultant Ellen Polishuk
Sponsored by C&F Bank
Our meeting this month was a great one on so many fronts. Ellen Polishuk from Plant to Profit took us through a current state of affairs in the farming world, provided practical advice for our farmers in the crowd, and spoke on a level that our non-farmers in the audience could relate to. As an organization supporting the needs of very different sectors of the local food movement, we strongly believe in the value of learning the struggles and realities each business faces so we can support them as much as possible. At the heart of the local food movement are the farmers, and supporting them is one of the most valuable ways to grow a local food system.
- The importance of soil health in building a healthy food system – raising organic matter is key.
- Farmer “nimbleness” – how can farmers make the most of their time with valuable equipment, planning and efficiency?
- There is a “right amount” of diversity of crops and value added offerings for farmers – there is such a thing as too much diversity.
- Farmers must make decisions based on DATA. Keeping accurate records and knowing where to focus based on actual profit numbers is a must.
- Community Building – Farmers need a community to thrive, they need to build relationships, and as Ellen says “be lovable.”
The takeaways here seem to be applicable across most businesses, and we hope all who joined us left inspired. We are very grateful to our friends at Tricycle for introducing us to Ellen. Ellen is now a full time farmer coach, and works with farmers on production practices, labor management, soil testing and fertilizer recommendations, and marketing. If you would like to book Ellen’s services please visit her website for more information.
More about Ellen:
Ellen Polishuk is a biological farm consultant and teacher who helps growers around the country improve their soils, their labor management practices and their businesses so that they can increase farm profits and achieve a joyful balanced life. Ellen has 35 years of farming experience under her belt and now devotes herself full time to teaching and consulting other growers. Raised in the suburbs of Washington DC, Ellen discovered farming at an early age, and took that passion to Virginia Tech where she earned a BS in Horticulture. After 4 years in vegetable seed research in California and active member of the Committee for Sustainable Agriculture, Ellen returned to Virginia to become one of three owners of Potomac Vegetable Farms, where she worked for 25 years. Now a full time farmer coach, Ellen works with farmers on production practices, labor management, soil testing and fertilizer recommendations, and marketing. She also speaks at conferences and meetings around the country on numerous agricultural topics. Ellen’s new book, Start Your Farm, that she co-wrote with Virginia farmer Forrest Pritchard is now available for purchase.