Transitioning into Farming & The Purgatory of Mediocrity – Carrot Cashflow Episode 33


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Episode Summary

In this episode of Carrot Cashflow, host Diego starts off the conversation with the Purgatory of Mediocrity—when something’s not bad enough to shut down but it’s also not good enough to survive—and figuring out the next steps to get out of that Purgatory of Mediocrity.  

Afterwards, Chef Michael Russo jumps in to share his story about stepping away from his 20-year career in the restaurant industry and transitioning into farming, as well as how his chef background has helped him farm his way to success.

Lastly, Diego closes off the episode with two new segments: Listener Q&A, where he breaks down why advertising might not work, and finally, Drunk Ideas, where he talks about how it’s perfectly okay to say no.

Today’s Guest: Michael Russo

Michael Russo is a chef with a twenty-year career in the restaurant industry, starting out as a dishwasher and gradually working his way up to become an Executive Chef. Used to working eighty to a hundred-hour work weeks, he made the decision to transition into farming in 2019. Now, he runs Chef’s Harvest Farm and makes over two thousand dollars in sales at his weekly farmer’s market.

Relevant Links

             Chef’s Harvest Farm LLC. – Website | Instagram | Facebook

In this episode of Carrot Cashflow

  • Sell Everything You Grow: How to Choose a Business Model to Maximize Sales for a Farm or Homestead (2023) by Diego Footer (00:32)
  • The Purgatory of Mediocrity (01:31)
    • How to tell if you’re stuck in the Purgatory of Mediocrity (10:25)
  • Diego introduces the episode’s guest, Michael Russo (13:48)
  • Which is harder—being a chef or being a farmer? (14:26)
  • The motivation to move away from the culinary field into farming (15:25)
  • Setting limits of how much work to do per week (19:02)
  • What Michael thought he knew about farming vs. what he now knows about farming  (21:22)
  • The plan going into year one (23:28)
  • What Michael Russo’s market looks like (25:33)
  • Standing out as a new farmer in a booming market (26:34)
    • How Michael Russo displays his produce at the farmer’s market (27:01)
  • How long Michael Russo has been in the farming business (29:20)
  • The prospect of farming for a living (31:01)
  • The biggest challenge with running a farm with just one person (32:55)
  • What to improve about the farm going into the following year (35:22)
  • How well has Chef’s Harvest Farm done in the first year? (38:22)
    • The best weeks at the farmer’s market (39:57)
  • Michael Russo’s target number per week (41:59)
  • How Michael Russo’s background as a chef helped him with farming (44:16)
  • Landing a chef customer or restaurant account (45:59)
    • Finding the chef vs. the restaurant Instagram account (47:42)
  • What chefs value when it comes to buying produce (49:09)
    • Salanova vs. mesclun mix (51:43)
  • Matching the lifestyle with the income the farm can produce (53:40)
  • Rapid-fire questions (58:06)
    • What does Michael Russo do to build loyal customers? (58:18)
    • Three things that has made the business successful (58:55)
    • What has made a difference on the farm? (59:52)
  • NEW SEGMENT: Listener Q&A (01:02:24)
    • What to do when there are no takers from advertising (01:02:38)
  • DRUNK IDEAS (01:09:58)
    • It’s okay to say no (01:10:17)

Subscribe to Carrot Cashflow in your favorite podcast player:

iTunes | Spotify

Check Out My Book: Ready Farmer One: The Farmers’ Guide to Create, Design, and Market an Online Farm Store (2022) by Diego Footer & Nina Galle

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Arielle Roxas

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