Q: Share an example of how you’re producing crops differently now than in 1983.
A: We started out in the 1980s growing in recycled cut-off milk cartons (waxed paper) that we collected year-round before moving to plastic pots and packs later in the 80s. Now, we are back to growing in biodegradable pots, but they are made of rice hulls.
Q: How has pricing changed? Can you give an example of prices you are getting now for products compared to 1983?
A: The business started out as Mom’s hobby, so pricing in 1983 was based on what Mom thought things were worth. Now, my brother and I have increased pricing to what our customers think they’re worth, particularly with the quality we grow. I don’t have exact figures from 1983, but we’re thinking tomato plants in cut-off quart milk cartons (equivalent to a 4.5-inch deep pot) were around $0.50, and now we’re charging $3.99.
Q: How about what you’re paying for supply inputs and energy compared to 1983?
A: Like everything else, supplies have steadily increased over the years, but our heating costs have escalated dramatically which, of course, is our largest expense being in Minnesota. The past eight years we’ve gradually converted from LP gas to biomass burners. We’re really trying to get away from commodity-based inputs to stabilize our costs and ultimately be more sustainable by using locally grown energy inputs.