[Market-farming] to hire, or not to hire?

Beth Spaugh lists at rhomestead.com
Wed Dec 26 16:05:54 EST 2012

I struggle with having help.  I definitely need it.  I know folks who hire
local people part-time, and want to find one or two of those.  So far I have
gone with several college students part-time, but they come and go, are not
used to field work, and I still need them in late August and September.  I
planned to have one full-time person and one good part-time person (who had
worked the previous summer part-time too).  The full-time person backed out
at the last minute and I never got a good replacement.  The part-time person
had very serious health issues this year and couldn't work.  Fortunately I
teacher/CSA member worked two days a week washing and packing, and another
CSA person volunteered one afternoon a week. Having part-time folks who come
and go results in me not training them for good jobs, so stick them with
jobs I think they can't mess up, i.e. weeding, which they don't like.  I
don't mind weeding, but hate washing and packing.


My plan for this year is to have two part-time plus one full-time OR 4
part-time.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday they will wash and pack.  If someone
wants full-time and/or wants to learn organic gardening, then that person
will help with field work.  All will probably help with early planting
(which they also don't like), and I may train one to do seeding.


My biggest need is probably help with sales, but I really want to stay under
the $20,0000 ag employment limit to avoid unemployment, disability, etc (do
have workers comp), Ag employees can wash, pack, and deliver, but not do any
retail sales work, or you lose the nice exemptions, at least in New York.
This many be penny foolish of me - I don't know yet.  But when I inquired
about offering unemployment they said I would have to continue to pay
unemployment for three years after the employees moved on, and that sounds


Perhaps you can each be independent businesses, or she can be a
subcontractor.  If she wants to do a farmers market, let her supply all the
equipment, transport, etc so she qualifies as an independent contractor.  Or
, if you market allows, just let her buy your stuff wholesale and sell it at
the market.  If there are additional specific things she could subcontract
to do, such as seeding plug trays at her place and delivering them to you
ready to go.  Or if she sub-contracted to keep weeds under control. Etc.


Beth Spaugh

Rehoboth Homestead, Peru NY

http://rhomestead.com      http://www.facebook.com/rhomestead


"How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used." -
Wendell Berry

"Without power over our food, any notion of democracy is empty." - Frances
Moore Lappe

It's not that nice guys finish last. They have a whole different notion
where the finish line is. - unknown




From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
KAKerby at aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 12:06 PM
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Market-farming] to hire, or not to hire?


We have been on the fence for awhile now about hiring some help for the
production year.  Things came to a head this past weekend, when a good
friend of ours, who has worked with us here sporadically in the past,
dropped a comment at a Christmas party that she thinks we should work
together during 2013 as partners, really rev up production, and go back to
selling at the farmer's market.


A 15 second comment has proven to give me three days' worth of "should we or
shouldn't we?"  And every time I think I've answered the question, I think
of some new "angle".

We weren't planning to return to the farmers' market this year, for a few
reasons which I thought were pretty solid.  Solid, that is, until I started
to think about what I could do with a second pair of hands around here.  We
also had figured on not hiring anyone "yet", but maybe in a year or two.
Her suggestion has sped up our deliberations, but I still find myself on the
fence.  It's a Catch-22.  Looking at "what could be" through the optimistic
lenses, I see some really nice improvements.  But looking through the
pessimistic lenses, I see a lot of ways this could go south on us.  And I
won't know until we commit to one or the other, but by committing, we set
things in motion (or don't), which will dramatically impact what we do
during 2013.  I can't put this off for two months and deliberate - we'll
have missed some planting windows if I do.  But I can ramp up now in
anticipation, and if things don't pan out then I'll have a nightmare
schedule to maintain by myself for the rest of the year.

I know some of you have gotten along very nicely without any hired help.
Some have hired help, and tweaked things so that life goes on if that hired
help doesn't pan out.  And some of you depend heavily on your hired help,
such that you couldn't function without it.  How do you all know "now is the
time" to hire, and/or when not to hire?  A big question for the last week of
the year.  Thanks all.
Kathryn Kerby


Snohomish, WA

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