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The Farm Business

Human Resources

Laura and Adam generally each work 55-70 hours per week during the height of the season (from June through September) and 30-40 hours per week in the off-season. Off-season time is spent on marketing, recordkeeping, taxes, equipment repair, planning for the next season, and other management details. While Adam worked off-farm, their first winter on the new farm required consistent 40-hour work weeks for Laura as they prepared for increased production.

Laura handles most of the administrative office work as well as communications, marketing, and greenhouse production. Adam handles all equipment and machine repair and most of the equipment operation. They divide responsibilities for field management, employee management, harvesting, and post-harvest handling. The division of labor allows Laura and Adam to concentrate on what they do best, gives them each autonomy within the partnership, and helps mitigate potential disagreements. They further minimize disagreements by trying to hold regular meetings throughout the year.

field crew

Figure 52: Adam and Laura have used workshare volunteers since 2006 and started hiring employees in 2009.

Laura and Adam did not have employees during their first four years of farming. Since 2006, they have had 4-5 “workshare” volunteers who help with harvesting two mornings per week in exchange for a box of produce (Figure 52). Starting in 2009, they hired three employees, two of whom lived in the refurbished granary on the farm while the third lived in Hutchinson. Laura and Adam found the employees through their Web site and word of mouth. The responsibility of managing full-time employees and having them live on the farm added a new challenge to the 2009 season.

Although hired labor is a substantial expense and the training and management time can be intensive, Laura and Adam felt the benefits far outweighed the negatives. A larger, full-time workforce allowed them to increase production to a level that was financially sustainable and brought more social interaction to a profession that has sometimes felt too solitary for them.

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Adam and Laura’s annual labor hours have varied through time, as shown in Table 6. The variation resulted in part from one or both of them working off-farm. Labor hours increased as they increased production and CSA membership. Adam and Laura don’t keep time sheets for themselves or employees, so labor hours are estimates. In general, however, employees work weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm with an hour lunch. Workshares, as described above, work about 4-5 hours per week during the CSA season.

Table 6. Estimated labor hours, 2005-2009

Labor Hours






Adam and Laura






and Employees1






1Employees only in 2009.

Looking to the future, Adam and Laura feel one of their biggest challenges will be balancing family life with farming if they decide to have children. The main concerns are health care and child care. They expect they will either need to scale up, so that they have enough income to hire a farm manager to replace one of them during the children’s early years, or that they will scale down their operations, so that the farm duties are manageable for one person.

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