I have to raise my prices and I’m here to explain to you why.
Let me start by saying, I wish I didn’t have to raise them. I know my products are an investment and I wish I could continue to provide them at the current price. Actually I wish I could lower the prices to make them more accessible to more people. But the truth is, I just can’t afford to. I’m hoping to grow food for my community until I’m no longer physically able and at these prices I will be out of business long before then. I could cut corners and reduce costs in doing so, but I am not willing to do that to my animals or to you.
Rhode Island. What a great state, right? I absolutely love it here. It also happens to be the state with the most expensive farmland in the country and it really lacks infrastructure when it comes to livestock farming. When I recently visited a few farmer’s markets in New Hampshire I learned that those farms are literally paying half for grain what I’m paying here and also have multiple options for slaughterhouses within an hour of their farm. They can purchase a whole farm for a few hundred thousand dollars. Their prices are the same as mine. As many of you probably know I drive three hours each way to bring my animals to humane slaughter in Vermont. That’s six hours of driving to bring the animals up, and six hours of driving to go back to pick up the meat. Not only is that an incredible amount of my time, but it’s a huge gas expense, and a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles and my trailer. Although there is an option much closer to home, I am not willing to cut corners with my animals.
In that light, most of my beef animals are born right here on the farm, taken care of year-round (even on Christmas), and only eat hay that we make from our organically managed pastures. If I do have to purchase steers to meet demand, I buy calves or one year old steers from other small grass farmers like myself. That means I have them anywhere from 18 months to 2 years before they are slaughtered at 30 months old. All of these decisions mean significantly higher costs than if I was purchasing animals at an auction, putting them on grass for six months and selling them as my own. I purchase my piglets from another small farm that is pasture-raised and Non-GMO. My pigs are absolutely never fed anything I could get them for free such as wasted bakery products, or waste milk from non-organic cows. When I say Non-GMO, I mean 100%.
I started my business over two years ago, invested tens of thousands of dollars, and only started paying myself $100 per week about five months ago. I have had about five full days off since May. I love farming so much, but it is my job, and sometimes I need a break. Farming is the hardest job I have ever had in every way (and also by far the absolute best). I have no desire to be rich in money because I am rich in life, but I would like to be able to afford to save for emergencies, go on vacation once a year, and send my future kids to softball if they wish to play. Next year I have the goal of paying myself $300 per week and to take one day off each week. Over the next years as I scale up, I’ll scale up to a living wage for myself.
Last but not least, Deep Roots Farm is moving, hopefully next year. It hasn’t worked out with my family here and we’ve all decided it’s best if I move on. Don’t worry I am staying in Rhode Island and will provide much more information when things are a bit more final. I’ve been operating without a lease and with the use of my family’s equipment for the past two years. The move means I’ll have a lease, and have to purchase things like a tractor and a truck.
Deep Roots Farm has turned into something much more special than I ever could have imagined. The community growing up around it, the customers that feel like family, and the people who’s health the food grown here has improved. It’s very scary to write this letter in the hopes that this little farm business will live on and I’ll be able to continue doing what I love: growing the very best food I can imagine. If you have any questions or concerns, I’m happy to answer them earnestly and honestly.
Prices will be adjusted when the store reopens on October 27th. Updated price lists will be available at the store and eventually will be updated online.