proposed survey of Market Farmer practices

Lion Kuntz lionkuntz at
Mon Aug 27 11:33:48 EDT 2001

A "dummy" survey has been posted at the following website URL address:

The questions asked may not be the best way to ask these questions. Please look at it and suggest alternatives which might be better. Send your suggestions to: LionKuntz at

Below is a text version of the questionaire survey form as proposed:

"Things have changed. A few years ago here in Thurston County, Washington State, rural land was selling commonly for $3,000 per acre. Then abruptly it increased to average price of $15,000/acre in increments of 5 acre units. Needless to say, at $75,000 minimum land purchase price it takes no-waste careful management for Market Farmers to make a living and succeed. This situation was also observed in Central Western Oregon near Eugene, and in Southern Western Oregon near Williams. Small farmers have had to turn to high-value, value-added and specialty crops, such as medicinal herbs, and there is a large cluster of herb farmers located in the Williams area. 

People who have owned their land since before the price jump are under less pressure to pay the mortgage, and consequently can "waste" land in low value crops like hay which return a few hundred dollars per acre per year. A year's worth of hay earnings would not pay a month's worth of mortgage under the new land prices. 

This survey seeks to collect ideas of what high-value crops and practices are useful in dealing with the fierce land and water competitions of the present situation. Areas of greatest expense represent areas for maximum savings if cost-cutting can be implimented. This survey concentrates on highest returns and highest expense only. 

What is your zipcode? 
(Needed to understand regional differences in answers) 

How many acres do you actively cultivate?  

How many crops are you growing in 2001?  
(Consider different cultivars as different crops for purposes of this question.) 

What is the highest value crop you have marketed in the past five years? 

How large an area did you plant of your highest value crop?  

Please estimate the dollars-per-square-feet of the plotsize earned by your highest value crop. 

(If you would rather, just state the plot size and total crop sale amount and I will do the math of square-foot earnings of that crop. Include in the size all necessary land used for driveways inside the field to harvest crop, or other non-growing land necessary for being successful with this crop. In other words, just stating the average plant size and the harvest value off the plant does not truely reveal the total land costs of producing that crop.) 

How long is your frost-free outdoor growing season?  
(Measured from last frost date of spring to first frost of autumn.) 

Do you grow crops beyond your outdoor season using season-extension devices, like floating row covers, cold hoophouse tunnels, warmed greenhouses?  

What is the total value dollar of your out-of-season crops grown (or partially grown) with season-extension devices?  
(Include the dollar value of transplants you greenhouse grow from seeds instead of purchasing transplants, but do not apply the full outdoors season value beyond the transplant stage since that value would have been obtained from purchased plants just as well as from your own grown nursery stock.) 

How much money have you invested in drip irrigation equipment and supplies over the past ten years?  

How much money have you invested in greenhouses in the past ten years?  

What is the most unusual expense that you have paid in the past five years? 

What are the three biggest costs you face every year? 

How confident are you that you will be in the same business operating almost the same way five years from now?


Thank you for taking a little time to furnish answers to these questions. Your information will be combined with other answer-givers to direct research into how to best teach the next generation how to provide an assured supply of high quality food under the fierce land and water competition of an expanding non-farming population. 



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