Today’s guest is Mike Nolan who, along with Mindy Perkovich, farms in the Mancos Valley in Southwest Colorado. Mountain Roots Produce provides the local and regional community high quality and reasonably priced vegetables.
Mike discusses their commitment to building soil health, a strong local food system, and a profitable business, all while facing challenges brought on by COVID and limited water in the high desert climate.
Prior to COVID, the farm typically received 60% of their gross income from regional restaurants and retail. They were planning on decreasing their CSA shares. Since COVID hit, they lost much of that business and wound up increasing their CSA shares from 70 to 175.
“It was challenging to meet those deliverables every week,” says Mike, due to labor shortages, limited water, and changing protocols in how customers picked up their shares.
The farm was “flooded with interest” after 10 years of encouraging the community to see the importance of supporting a local farm. Mike wonders, is this an actual change to buy directly from local producers or about food security during COVID?
Mike also discusses the complexity of farming in region with limited water. “It takes a lot of coordination… to make sure we had enough to push our crops.” They plan on moving back to growing storage crops and reduce CSA shares due to a predication of even less water for the high succession, high management vegetable crops.
Mindy focuses on creating a beautiful website and blog. Last year they took a chance with a sponsored ad. In two weeks with two $60 ads, their online store sold $6,500 in product.
Mike also talks about his time in a local incubator program, in which he’s still involved as mentor. Hear his wise farming and marketing advice for beginning farmers.