I've never felt so good about the start of a new growing season while at the same time feeling somewhat puzzled. Since February I’ve been staying on task with the seeding and planting of all vegetables. Everything’s been looking great!
In February I always begin by doing most of the work on my own and then bring on more help as the workload picks up in April. By late April I normally have a crew chosen out of a mere handful of applicants willing to give farming a try. By May the new recruits are becoming more seasoned to the rigors and routines of farm work. By the time we reach our first delivery everyone’s become accustomed to most everything needing to be done for the weeks delivery. What’s been puzzling this year is this is the first time ever I haven’t been able to fill the employee roster. I’m now faced with the smallest crew ever to perform the weekly duties.
The situation for me is unprecedented and disconcerting to say the least. Why haven’t I had a greater number of applicants this year? It’s obvious that the recent cost of living increases across the board has those who are looking for work needing to be paid at minimum a true “living wage”. The national reported living wage is currently $16.54/ hour. That’s more than I’ve ever been able to comfortably pay out to my employees. After raising the share cost on January 1st I thought that would provide enough to cover all farm expenses including getting my wages closer to that declared living wage. I’m finding now it wasn’t quite enough considering the cost increases to all my other inputs. Seed, fuel, fertilizer, and now labor have all jumped well beyond budget. I wholeheartedly want to be in a position to pay a living wage but unfortunately that won’t be possible this year.
It's hard to say but all this could likely affect this year’s program. Then again maybe it won’t. We may have to accept a bit less until I get my staff positions filled. I still remain totally optimistic for the year that everything will turn out just fine. We did have a cold start earlier which put some of the spring crops a little behind schedule. But stay positive on this with me because more is on the way. Happy summer solstice!