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Author Topic: Requiring a few hours of work
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  L'il Farmer
  Big Lake, MN
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Requiring a few hours of work    (Posted Sat, Aug 4 '12 at 04:44 UTC)

I am contemplating doing a requirement next year of like 6 hours of work per season per family. I just get so far behind and do it all myself and could use help. I see other farms do this so what are the thoughts on it? Is liability an issue with such a small operation as mine? Does it turn people away? I would plan on doing a survey of my shareholders from this season to see what they would say. Should I give an option like pay x amount for no work or x amount for some work? That probably isn't a good idea since it is so few hours I am requesting.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
Re: Requiring a few hours of work    (Posted Sat, Aug 4 '12 at 09:03 UTC)

I have found that if you require work from everyone most do not like it and they are slow and must be watched constantly and taught a lot. Im other words, they will slow you down. But having a couple of working shares where you can work with one or two people and exchange work for food has worked for me as it is much easier to educate the workers this way (at least for me) because they are willing workers and not doing it because they have to. The working share members generally are fast workers too and actually help out rather than slowing you down.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH
 Laurel Highlands PA
Re: Requiring a few hours of work    (Posted Sun, Aug 5 '12 at 11:46 UTC)

Coming from a farm that manages about 20 work traders a year... phew they can be a challenge.

We've tried 2 different setups:

1. Work trade X many hours per season, get your weekly share every week, regardless of how many hours worked.

This worked out well, except that some people wanted to work 8 hour days, 7 days a week to get their required hours in.. others would do nothing up until the end of the season and then try to cram them all in, and others would show up weekly for a few hours every week throughout the season. Honestly, I didn't like this setup because of the infrequency in which people showed up (lots of last minute cancels), or having to tell people "no we don't need you 8 hours today, I really need you 2 hours on harvest day, and 4 hours next week etc etc"...

2. Work trade X many hours per week, and get your share every week if you've worked.

This was my preferred method of dealing w/ work traders. If they were a no show, I didn't have to harvest a share for them, and if they were supposed to be there on harvest day, and didn't show, I'd donate their share to a food bank.

Regarding liability, you should always have liability insurance whenever you're inviting people over to your farm to tour, work, etc. etc. Just never know who will get hurt, or fake hurt, and sue you. It's a tough economy out there and I'd rather not line someone's pockets because I'm too cheap too put out $500/year on insurance. Sure, it's steep but its worth it.

A waiver could help, but I've been told that any lawyer worth his salt can get around those in court pretty easily.

Also, do you realize that if you're giving out more than $500 of produce in barter via work trade that you should still issue a 1099 to them? (e.g. last farm I managed shares were $700).

Re: Requiring a few hours of work    (Posted Sun, Aug 5 '12 at 10:53 UTC)

I have given up on work trades, which I marketed as Farm Bucks. I used to pay minimum wage in Farm Bucks, which people could use to pay for a CSA share or use to buy produce any time they wanted. I also gave a 10% bonus to those who bought Farm Bucks with a minimum purchase of $100. Neither aspect worked well. Now I take volunteers and I just load them down with food. Neither of us calculates the value and it actually works much better. Perhaps getting out of the money system when possible is the best strategy.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
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