Teacher, Champion, Friend of Agriculture

 Rutgers Professor Jack Rabin (second from right) hits the road for retirement this month.

Rutgers Professor Jack Rabin (second from right) hits the road for retirement this month.

On Friday, December 9, about 100 friends and colleagues gathered on the Cook Campus at Rutgers University to roast and toast retiring agricultural agent Jack Rabin, Associate Director of Farm Programs for the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station – Cooperative Extension, and co-creator/author of this Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe website. I cannot think of a more appropriate send off than to share some highlights from that celebration on this site as we say ‘best wishes in retirement’, but not ‘goodbye’ as I’ve gotten a promise from Jack to continue contributing when he gets inspired from his new home on the West Coast. [Read more…]

Mobile Market Cooler Conversion Demonstration

Mobile Market CoolerScalable for small and mid-sized farm operations, portable farm market-type display units have dual benefits of big visual impact with quality enhancing cooling, extending fresh fruit and vegetable shelf life. For those with basic carpentry skills, converting a utility trailer into an insulated cooler box is a relatively easy project. Reasonably priced, these units add versatility boosting the “farm’s capacity to grow, and support their bottom line and sustainability.”

Utility Trailer to Mobile Market Cooler

While this project used a new 6’ x 12’ utility box trailer, others have cut costs for similar projects substituting used trailers, transportable boxes, or built-in units. The cooler unit is a standard household window air conditioning unit with a CoolBot controller that overrides the AC units thermostat, tricking it to keep it running well below household temperature ranges. The AC mobile market cooler in this conversion is adapted from instructions for a smaller Pack-n-Cool unit created by Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie, NCSU. See Pack-n-Cool Construction Summary to read about her experiences.
[Read more…]

Sustainability Starts with a Marketing Plan

From Growing Produce 3-8-2012
Rick VanVranken gives tips on developing a marketing program that works for your growing operation.

“Your marketing plan is the map that will identify your potential customers and what products you might sell them.”

In late November 2011, American Vegetable Grower asked readers of their E-newsletter to describe their marketing plan. Only 13% to 15% responded that they were satisfied that they had a strong marketing plan. A third of respondents said, “Looking to improve” while more than 20% indicated their marketing plans were “non-existent.” [Read more…]

Finance Guide for Community Supported Farming

Guide to Financing the Community Supported FarmThe University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Ag, with support from USDA Northeast SARE released a new publication, Guide to Financing the Community Supported Farm.

While some finance advice is specific to Vermont law, there is good coverage of alternative finance tactics for small farm enterprises, as well as federal business finance laws.

This 62 page guide touches on legal, accounting, financial agreements, investors, equity shareholders, and contracts. It can be downloaded for free by chapter or the complete guide. [Read more…]