My consulting work takes many forms and I’ve done with folks who have everything from small gardens up to hundreds of acres of production. My focus is small, diversified vegetable growing for direct markets but I’m open to interesting projects of all sizes.
I offer services from hour long meetings in the office, to years long relationships in the field. I’m base in Portland, Oregon, but many of the consulting services are available remotely, without extra cost, through the wonders of telephones and the internet. Below are a few of the most common options:
Meetings by the Hour
These can either be in person or over the phone/internet. Use meetings like this to ask specific questions, or general ones, and to get opinions, ideas, and resource suggestions from an experienced grower. $65 per hour
Half Day On-site Consult
Sometimes it’s useful to have me out to your site to look over the land, infrastructure and equipment you have and to give my feedback and thoughts on those topics. This can be combined with other questions. I find 3 hours to generally be the limit for these meetings. $250 plus travel expenses
Crop Planning and Record Keeping Set Up – NEW
Let me help you create a detailed crop plan using my well developed, spreadsheet based system. Over the course of a month I’ll walk you through inputting your crop plan details, creating weekly to-do and record keeping sheets, and setting yourself up for a successful season. This starts with a 1-2 hour introduction and initial customized spread sheet set up, and continues with regular check ins to make sure you are able to complete each part of the plan and come up with weekly to-do and record sheets that are easy for you and your crew to understand. $500 – approximately 8 hours of consulting time.
Equipment Selection and Set Up – NEW
Get help making decisions on new equipment to save time, improve the quality of your produce and your quality of life. This includes help with estimating costs and savings of new equipment investments for any size purchase, help selecting the right tools, and help setting up the equipment and integrating it into your systems. $25-500+ depending on the type of tool and complexity of set up. Custom tool design and fabrication is also possible.
Farm Profitability Analysis – NEW
If you’re trying to get a better handle on what parts of your farm are actually generating profits and which parts are costing you more than they’re worth I can help you identify the records you need to be keeping and how to use those numbers to make decisions about production and market choices. $500 – 1000 depending on the complexity of the operation and the clarity of existing records.
Ongoing Farm Coaching – NEW
Monthly check-ins with an experienced set of eyes and ears to help set priorities, make sure you’re keeping the records you need for future planning and avoid expensive mistakes. Approximately 4 hours per month, $200/month plus travel expenses.
Would something not listed above be more useful for you? Most of the work I do is customized to fit with the client’s needs, and my clients aren’t always farmers. I also bid on larger projects, like helping design entire new farms, setting up farmer training programs, writing farm plans… If you have a project you think I might be able to help with let me know and we can talk about whether it’s a good fit.
For a consultation
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you’re looking for.
I have over a decade of experience and bring an engineering background to the following areas:
- Detailed crop planning and tracking systems – simplifying planning and record keeping
- Cultivation – both hand and tractor systems
- Crop Rotations – setting up rotations for improved production, and crop health
- Cover Crops – simple applications for maximizing weed control, improving soil quality
- Irrigation Systems – maximizing health, minimizing water use
- Apprentice Education Programs – making a system that works for everyone
- Greenhouse management
- Planting and seeding
- Harvest and post harvest
My experience is in organic production systems but the systems that I can help you with are applicable to most farms and gardens. If I can’t help you, I’ll try to be up front about that as well, and do my best to find you someone who can.
Sharing Information Freely
During my apprenticeship in farming I was introduced to the tradition of sharing equipment and information freely with neighbors in need. So much of my farming knowledge has come freely and generously from farming friends, neighbors, and friends of neighbors. This free dissemination of knowledge is crucially important to maintain, although it comes slowly. Paying for a consultation is simply a way for you to speed up the process and to guarantee that it comes in a more timely and cohesive manner. I am still happy to talk to anyone about farming, absolutely free, when I have the time. The truth is that my time is limited and there’s not as much of it as I’d like. Conferences between sessions, workshops, and farmer meetings are great places to get free or low cost information from myself and others. I love growing food and I always learn something from talking to other growers. I’m also working on putting up as much information on production as possible at joshvolk.com.