In the winter of 18 our first goal is to transfer ownership of the property to us from the Secor family. We will then review our financial and legal responsibilities and plan to apply for state tax benefits and grants available for start-up farms.
Next we will look to hire a forester to determine the basis of timber value of our woodlot, this way if we choose to thin the woods a year from purchase for aesthetic and ecologically purposes; the money we make off of the timber contract will be taxed as capital gains (0%, 5%, or 15%) rather than ordinary income rates of (10% to 35%).
In this time we will also be focusing on marketing Native NY Gardens so we have landscaping jobs lined up for the spring and summer of 2018.
Early Spring 2018
Install woody ornamentals
In the early spring of 18 we plan on acquiring bare roots (the most cost effective way to go about obtaining our woody ornamentals). Since many shrubs may take between 2-5 years to reach maximal productivity, we want to get our investments in the ground right away. Come winter of 2018/19, woody ornamentals will already present on the property, and our pussy willow can be harvested and sold. Come fall 2019, several species we'll plant this spring will also be ready for market.
This spring we will install a fruit orchard, increasing our pick-your-own options and to beautifying the landscape. This orchard will consist of apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and pears. Two varieties of each species, in total 110 trees. These trees will line a pathway, making the fruit easy to pick and to creating a wonderful display when they all bloom in the spring.
In mid-spring we will have a local farmer till the land and plant thousands of sunflowers. This will most likely be a partnership with a neighboring sunflower oil presser, Hudson Valley Pressed Oil. By collaborating with a third party, we can learn from their process and use most the land right away, which otherwise would be difficult without the heavy machinery that most pre-established farms will have. The oil pressers will harvest and process the sunflowers on our land for their own gains but compensate financially as leasers of the land. The real value won't come from the leasing agreement but the spectacle and exposure 30+ acres of blooming sunflowers will bring to our operation. This beautiful scene will then allow us to begin getting bookings right away for photoshoots and weddings.
Late Spring / Summer 2018
On top of installing our woody ornamentals in the spring, we will focus on executing landscaping jobs to generate revenue. This revenue will be used to cover basic operating costs and living expenses.
Early Summer 2018
After our spring plantings, we willll begin to create bonds with the local community, other farmers and businesses. We'll look to learn from their experience and nurture relationships that will be advantageous to our farm.
This will also be applied to our larger creative community, people in the industry and New Yorkers. The more people know about what we're doing, the more likely we can source the best talents and help for future projects and build a strong staff.
Early Summer 2018
Pitch to Investors
While we will have pitched to investors in the winter of 2018, it is our belief that once people see that we have things in motion, it will be easier to bring on more investors.
Our goal will be to finance the rest of the farm within 2.5 years the buying date with investor capital rather than a loan from a farm lender.
Mid Summer 2018
As our 5 acres of established blueberries prepare to ripen (late June / July) we will begin to implement a strategy to capitalize off of this crop. This may involve contracting an outside farmer or processor to harvest the blueberries to be sold wholesale, or plan and execute an event on our property, such as a 'Blueberry Festival' -- inviting people to pick-their-own. This would be our first trial as an agri-tourism destination.
What we do with the blueberries will depend on the health and quality evaluation of the plants, which will be preformed in the spring.
Late Summer 2018
Come late summer 2018 (August and Sept) we will focus on marketing our sunflowers. While most the sunflowers will eventually be harvested by our partner and used for oil production, while they're in full bloom we will advertise the property as a prime location for professional photoshoots, and as a location to host weddings. We will also have a section of sunflowers planted to be sold as cut flowers, which we can sell to visitors and florists or retailers like Whole Foods, who value locally grown organic goods. This will be time to establish relationships and channels of distribution.
Agri-Tourism Peak Season
Agri-tourism peaks in upstate New York in September and October. This is when thousands of people come from New York City to pick apples and pumpkins in the Hudson Valley. We will tap into this flow of people and direct them to our farm but instead of the typical apples and pumpkins, we will provide something new and exciting with acres of sunflowers to pick, play in and take photos with. We also plan on making a deal with a chef with a food truck to sit on our property and provide meals and hot cider. Those things along with games and arts and crafts will make customers very happy. This, all before we are able to provide hikes and places to sit along our amazing creek.
Plant Perennial Cut Flowers
As the sunflower season comes to an end and the plants are harvested for oil production, we will invest in perennial cut flowers, plants that will come back each year and produce value. A fair amount of these plants will be planted in the fall of 2018 so come summer of 2019 we'll be able to harvest and sell some of them. Over the next couple years the farm will continue the grow large amounts of sunflowers but will incrementally introduce more and more perennials, diversifying our goods.
As the season winds down, well take the capital generated over the summer to reinvest it into beautifying the landscape. This will include specimens tress, perennial boarders, pathways, extra lawns, wedding gardens and landscaping around the edge of our pond. Plants installed in the fall will be ready to go by next spring, transforming the old farm into The New York Flower Farm.
Late Fall / Early Winter 2018
Participate in Woody Ornamental Market
With the growing season over and the holiday season beginning -- we will take this time, the months of Nov, Dec and Jan, to study and participate in the woody ornamental market. This includes visiting other farms and venders, and doing interviews with trade experts. With our personal stock in the ground (planted spring of 2018) there's a good chance next winter (winter of 2019/2020) we'll have material to sell and we plan to be ahead of the game in regards to knowing our distribution network and customers.
Investors, Grants and Loans
One of our main goals for winter of 2018 is to attract investors. We'll be looking for capital to cover the rest of the farms mortgage and build structures which will, in return, attract more customers and allow us to charge more for weddings.
At the same time, we will be applying for grants available to our business from the state. These grants can be very generous being that New York State really wants small farms to succeed, since they are so important to the economy. With our first season behind us, we'll be able to qualify for more opportunities.
Finally, if we feel we need extra capital which has not been yet generated by investors of grants, we'll consider applying for a farm loan or selling a parcel of land.
Late Winter 2019
Work With What We Got: Pussy Willow
At this point there will already be a lot of pussy willow growing wildly on the property. Pussy willow is very popular in the woody ornamental industry in late winter (Feb and March so we'll harvest what we can and bring it to market. We will be new to this market but will be raising awareness of our business as we go.
Late Winter / Early Spring 2019
By now we will have a good sense of what is in our forest, it's eco-types and what methods to deploy to enrich the woodlot. Being a year since we bought the land, we can now have someone come and thin trees, and the money we're paid for the wood can be taxed as capital gains. Thinning is a process that actually helps the forest in the long run, allow established trees more room to grow, while also generating us some extra cash for us. Many of these trees will be turned into wood chips which will then be used to line our paths. This will also be the beginning of the trail creation through our forest for personal enjoyment and for the public to use for hiking, adding value to their experience.
Spring of 2019
One of the first things we want to add in terms of infrastructure is a new farm store to process and house our cut flowers and other goods. This store will also serve as a office. If there's extra capital, we'll build a pedestrian bridge across a stream that runs through of property connecting visitors with our hiking trails.
Spring / Summer 2019
Come spring 2019 well be ready to host more consistent weddings and events. These weddings will take place in our landscaped areas for very desirable and competitive rates. As the farm develops these rates will increase, specifically, once we are able to build a barn that can house an indoor event. But for the spring of 2019, we'll focus on being 'special and affordable'.
Sell Cut Flowers
Summer of 2019 we'll have plenty of sunflowers and perennials planted from the previous fall. These will be ready to harvest and sell as cut flowers directly from our farm and to clients in New York City. This will generate capital during summer and be key so we can reinvest back into landscape for fall of 2019. We will also be diversifying our crops and making the farm more desirable as a destination.
Build A Barn
In the fall of 2019, with investment money or money from a loan, we will build a high class, energy efficient barn. This barn will look out over our pond and will serve both as an indoor venue for weddings and events and as sleeping courters for us and guests. When the barn is not in us, the upstairs apartment will be available for rent on air b&b for New Yorkers who want to escape the city for a weekend or spend a week on a flower farm in the summer. These two revenue streams will be huge for the farm.