Veggie Compass: Whole Farm Planning for Enhanced Profitability of Midwestern Organic Vegetable Growers
- Erin Silva
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1630 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706
We requested funding to create a whole-farm farm business management tool (named Veggie Compass) designed for diversified organic vegetable growers through the collection of yield and labor data and documentation of current grower practices and limitations. Our long term goal was to improve the profitability of organic vegetable growers by helping them better understand their costs of production, thus improving their decision making and whole farm planning capability. We undertook a strong outreach plan for the Midwest region, including the development of ongoing, supportive communities of practice as well as grower workshops, presentations at organic farming conferences, and webinars on the eOrganic website. The project has evolved and had impact beyond our expectations, with program reach extending beyond the upper Midwest, upon which the Ceres Funding was focused.
Veggie Compass was designed to be comprised of several tools that assist organic growers with farm management, particularly related to crop and market choices that ensure profitable businesses: 1) labor data tracking systems; 2) a computer-based tool that allows growers to track their costs of production by crop and profits by market; 3) baseline yield and labor data that can be used as default values in the computer tool; and 4) educational materials which accompany the data tracking systems and computer tool.