Starting farming when you have no prior experience can be tough. Especially when you dive in headfirst with no fallback. But Conor Crickmore of Neversink Farm was successful, in large part due to the mindset he established for himself.
The Mindset in an Uphill Battle
Despite being able to make some profit from vegetables, the first year of farming was extremely difficult for Conor and Kate. Many people would probably have thrown in the towel and moved on. But the Crickmores didn’t. Why?
- There was no plan B. Conor and Kate didn’t have old jobs to go back to. They had no money to pay for rent back in New York City. There was no fallback.
- There were two of them. Conor and Kate supported one another and gave each other the optimism they needed to make things work.
- They wanted to prove they could do it. There was pressure from the local community: the Crickmores were city folk who started a farm and who probably wouldn’t last long. Conor and Kate wanted to prove that they could do it.
Beginning to Turn Things Around
At the end of their first year growing vegetables, Conor and Kate broke down everything they had done and analyzed each facet of their operation. They took each issue and started improving.
The first major issue was the weeds. Conor and Kate used to get down on their hands and knees to pluck away at each weed, but that wasn’t a sustainable way of going about it. So they adopted a stale-seed-bed cultivation system.
Another issue was irrigation. They got rid of their ridiculously long drip tape and replaced it with permanent water lines. They tried using sprinklers and eventually ended up spending the money to dig a well on site.
Since that first year, the Crickmores have been improving and improving. Before they knew it, they were enjoying themselves. They continued the process of getting rid of things that didn’t work and trying to not repeat mistakes.
Efficiency without the BCS
Conor stopped using his BCS two-wheel tractor, and this made farming a lot more enjoyable for him. Getting it out of the field meant he could spend more time harvesting and hand-weeding. And eliminating tilling means his beds can remain permanent.
As much as the BCS was helpful on the farm, Conor and Kate stopped using it to till. When you till, you have to supplement the soil, and you have to re-form your rows—a time-consuming activity.
So Conor and Kate put in the time and effort to get the texture of their soil right. They got rid of the big rocks and added in some clay, peat, and compost. Since then, their soil has been doing great.
In the next post in this series, we’ll dive into more about how Conor and Kate prepped their soil, as well as how they made the decision of whether to focus on improving infrastructure or increasing production.
You can learn more by checking out our podcast with grower Conor Crickmore:
And you can find all our market gardening podcasts at Farm Small, Farm Smart—the longest-running podcast on market gardening in the world.