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In just 2-years Trudels have significantly increased the number of U-pickers, particularly drawing customers from the Columbus market.

New Profitability for the Farm Business

Trudels Share Their Wisdom.

There are no magic approaches or methods that will quickly help solve all challenges. Trial-and-error and continued improvement of farming practices will help meet unique challenges, which seem to change every growing season. Consequently, start small and be flexible in your approach. While there is much information available, discussions with other people often provide the best guidance to help avoid costly mistakes.

Daniel and Ann Trudel think their farm has a bright future! A few years ago the Trudels had a new plan. They would buy a small farm in central Ohio. Daniel would maintain full-time, off-farm employment, traveling most of the week for his out-of-state employer, while Ann became the primary farm operator and the parent more available to their two children. The farm business proved to be challenging and the start-up years full of fretting and arguing about what to do differently to make this dream a better reality. The farm profits were never expected to fully support the family but the farm had to be financially self-sufficient. It was Ann’s responsibility to make this happen, with Dan’s encouragement and as much involvement as possible.

To increase the sustainability of their farm, Daniel and Ann made significant changes that result from their participation in Wisdom in the Land.

Resources. The combination of new membership in organizations of women farmers and organic farmers and new friends among other participants of a beginning farmers program increased Ann’s awareness of resource organizations and will ensure Ann’s continued development as a farmer. Not only did mentors assigned through the beginning farmers program provide useful information and advice, they also became friends. These mentors are valued for their open mindedness, their willingness to embrace and share new ideas, and their practical ability to find alternative ways to accomplish things.

Production. Ann is proud to grow high quality food for her customers and, despite the many challenges, the farm uses organic production practices. She credits the influential and supportive resources available through a beginning farmers program for influencing her decision not to use chemical sprays when fighting serious insect infestation. The Trudels currently use rain water for irrigation, now collect manure to maintain their soil fertility, and use fish emulsion as a ground and leaf feed.

Business. The Trudels embraced a whole farm planning approach, by placing high priority on improving the quality of their family relationships as they met their lifestyle and economic goals. The farm was profitable in the first and ensuing years, which made them confident that this could be possible for years to come and thus, the dream and goal expanded to entail the possibility of becoming a full time operation and primary source of revenue. The Trudels revamped their spending practices and now work the farm solely on a cash basis, making development investments on set-aside profits, always thinking ahead so they have time to find good deals. With most of the major investment made in the first year of operation, the key financial goal is now to control expenses in order to increase profits. They hired an accountant experienced with farm accounting and express their annual plan in a farm budget. Ann is still amazed at how many people call and inquire about the U-pick operation. For the first 2 years, the primary outlet for revenue and marketing has been to showcase fresh picked raspberries and raspberry jam at local farmers’ markets. In the last 2 years, there has been a significant draw to the U-pick operation, particularly from the Columbus market.

The increased awareness of Ann’s Raspberry Farm is, in part, the result of media exposure which promoted a beginning farmers program in which they were participating. The Farm was in local print media, statewide farm publications, Ohio State Extension news outlets, and newsletters of the Innovative Farmers of Ohio. At the invitation of that organization, Ann volunteered to plan a program for central Ohio women farmers and also agreed to host an on-farm tour for the 2008 season. Both opportunities included widespread distribution of information about Ann and the farm operation. Serving as a public spokesperson also increases Ann’s self-confidence as a farmer. Additionally the Trudels added more directional signs on area roads to help people find the farm. They began using signage on their vehicles and developed and distributed flyers showcasing weekly specials, specialty crops, and hours of operation. Trudels printed branded T-shirts that they both wear and sell. Their son developed a beta version of their web site (annsraspberryfarm.com). During the 2007 season, Ann rushed to make 1,000 jars of raspberry jam due to the combination of a lower-quality harvest and an increasingly high demand for fresh and locally made jam. New and innovative products such as chocolate raspberry jam and seedless jam provide an opportunity to increase sales from customers who often want more than just fresh berries. During this challenging year, their mentor, who also grows brambles, provided a referral and helped secure raspberry orders for local restaurants. In 2008, Ann reports a new restaurant account interested in acquiring fresh berries. This restaurant proposed to feature the farm as part of an effort to promote locally grown produce and local farmers. She helped start a farmers’ market in her hometown, which has provided an opportunity to share marketing opportunities among other local and small farm owners.

Contact Information:

Ann and Daniel Trudel

Ann’s Raspberry Farm
6645 Blair Rd.
Fredericktown, Ohio 43019

Knox County

740-694-1935

In 2006 Daniel and Ann Trudel were in their second year of farming 2.5 acres of the small 5-acre farm. Daniel was then a professional employed full-time off-farm and Ann a marketing professional and full-time homemaker. Their primary goal is to operate the farm and U-pick operation as a part-time job, and to grow red raspberries as their primary crop. Ann hopes to some day start a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation.