Power of Produce Pilot Program A Huge Success at the Farmers’ Market

By BTLT Summer Intern, Hannah Leitzell

A love of local food should start at an early age and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is helping to do just that through their new Power of Produce (POP) Club Program for kids, funded in part from a grant from the Senter Fund. Started at a Farmers’ Market in Oregon and now an initiative of the national Farmer’s Market Coalition, POP Club provides kids who join the club at BTLT’s Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm the chance to shop for their own fresh fruits and vegetables. POP Club supports research showing that kids who eat five or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day have stronger bones, muscles, and immune systems. According to the CDC, eating healthy supports physical growth and increases brain development and cognition. Plus, eating local produce promotes eating fruits and vegetables that are in-season and that haven’t been shipped from far away. POP Club and eating fresh, locally-grown produce, is a win on all fronts! 

POP Bucks, Harvest Bucks, and SNAP tokens

BTLT’s Agricultural Programs Coordinator, Julia St.Clair, manages the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm and oversees POP Club. Participating kids check in with Julia at the BTLT booth to receive vouchers that allow them to make their own purchases at the Farmers’ Market. Each week, children receive four “POP Bucks” that they can spend on fruits and veggies of their choosing. Though still in its pilot stage, the program has been wildly successful. BTLT has had over 250 children sign up as of August, many of whom return week after week. 

On a sunny Saturday in August, I had the privilege of tagging along with my new 11-year-old friend, Sorrel, and her sibling Silvo, as they chose which fruits and veggies they wanted to purchase. Sorrel is an outgoing kid who will be entering middle school this fall. She loves coming to the BTLT Farmers’ Market with her parents, especially to get fresh fruit with her POP Bucks! As we browsed, we talked about all the different foods she and her sibling had purchased in the past. Strawberries and blueberries were at the top of their list, but they previously purchased carrots and mushrooms as well! We even ran into some other POP Club kids who were happy to tell us their plans for the Market. POP Club member Iona bought tomatoes with her POP Bucks and planned to make pizza sauce from them. She recently learned about paste tomatoes which are good for making sauce.  

Sorrel finally settled on purchasing some blueberries from Fairwinds Farm. She couldn’t help but sample a few, for quality assurance of course, and was nice enough to share some with me as we continued walking the rows of booths. She told me how these blueberries were the perfect mix of both sweet and tart, and how previously she had bought blueberries that were early in the season and were a bit smaller and sourer. I got to talk to Lydia, a vendor at the Fairwinds Farm booth, about what the POP Club has been like from the receiving-end. “The kids are all so excited,” she told me, “They shop on their own, ask questions, count the money, and pay all by themselves. It’s really incredible.” I was able to talk to Sorrel and Silvo’s parents as well who expressed their love for the program. Sorrel is an independent kid, and her dad loves that she has the opportunity to shop on her own. Sorrel says it makes her feel like a “grown-up.”  

Sorrel and Silvo with their blueberry purchase

The POP Club has also been successful in introducing kids to unusual kinds of foods. For example, Stella, a 10-year-old member, buys mushrooms with her POP Bucks. In talking with the vendor at Fruit of the Forest Mushroom Farm, she has discovered that Chestnut mushrooms are her favorite.  Ethan, the vendor with Fruit of the Forest, shared that “the kids always ask questions about the mushrooms. One little girl” – presumably, Stella – “always comes up and asks how much she can get with $4.”  

These kinds of connections with local farmers and vendors at our Farmers’ Market help kids to strengthen ties to local agriculture, which in turn fosters excitement about buying local and organic produce. There are countless benefits to eating healthy foods, specifically fruits and veggies from local farms, and BTLT wants to encourage kids and families to get involved! POP Club has exceeded expectations and engagement levels during its pilot phase, and BTLT is seeking greater grant funding to continue this meaningful program. In the future, Julia hopes to expand the program to include dairy and meat products, to incentivize a well-balanced diet while continuing to support our vendors. POP Club has been a monumental step in engaging local kids in healthy eating practices and good financial skills while also letting them explore their own curiosities regarding food and local agriculture.

Fruit of the Forest Mushrooms vendor Ethan with POP Club shoppers

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week with BTLT

Every Saturday morning, May through October, a small grassy field at BTLT’s Crystal Spring Farm property transforms into a dynamic community space. With 39 farmers, makers, and bakers from the region this season, live music, and kid’s activities, the BTLT Farmers Market is a vibrant and colorful place. This Saturday, August 12th, we will be celebrating National Farmers Market Week with a fundraising raffle and a whole table of new activities for younger Market shoppers. Raffle prizes include BTLT merch (including our amazing posters from the 2023 and 2022 seasons), a tote bag from Apple Creek Farm, an ice cream sandwich from Maine Flavor, a whole chicken from Senza Scarpe, and more to come! Not only will you have a chance to win some of these prizes, but your purchase of raffle tickets supports our incredible Farmers’ Market community! 


How to Engage & Support

  • Buy a raffle ticket (or ten) at the BTLT Booth on August 12th to support the Farmers’ Market and have the chance to win some awesome prizes.
  • Vote for the BTLT Farmers’ Market to win the title of ‘Best in Maine’ by clicking here.
  • Become a BTLT Member to support this Farmers’ Market and our conservation, education, and agricultural programs. 
  • Bring your friends and family to the Farmers’ Market to share this vibrant community with them!

What is National Farmers Market Week?

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration that highlights the vital role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. We are grateful here at the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market to be able to uplift our vendors, promote our programs, and celebrative the thriving community we have built around local food.

Farmers Markets are key for community food access.

The BTLT Farmers’ Market accepts SNAP benefits and participates in both the Harvest Bucks incentive program and Bumper Crop workplace wellness program. This season we also launched a pilot program for kids, POP Club, to encourage youth to enjoy fruits and vegetables at the Market. We believe folks of all ages, from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to engage with local agriculture and have access to healthy food. 

Farmers markets fuel local economies.

Our incredible vendor community is part of what makes the BTLT Farmers’ Market one of the best in the state. These vendors work tirelessly to keep our communities fed and to bring Market visitors the best local products. We host a handful of vendors in our ‘alternating’ vendor space offering businesses a chance to attend the Market part-time to fit their schedule or as a way to explore a market as an outlet for their products. We host 35-40 vendors each season!

Farmers markets support conservation, education, and community.

BTLT conserves and stewards vital natural areas, supports a vibrant local food system, and connects people with the natural world through inclusive education and recreation programs. The Crystal Spring Farm property, which hosts the BTLT Farmers’ Market, also has an extensive trail system, habitats for wildlife (especially birds), and a visible working farm. This is a great example of how balanced management of mixed-use land can yield productive agriculture, public recreation and community spaces, and still support a thriving level of biodiversity.

Help BTLT Earn the Title of America’s Favorite Farmers Market


While they’ve long been pillars of local food in urban centers and town squares and even on local farms, in recent years, farmers markets have gained the national recognition they deserve as essential businesses that enable farmers and communities to thrive. This year, the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm is once again participating in the America’s Farmers Market Celebration (AFMC), the only annual ranking of the top farmers markets in the United States as voted on by the public. After taking home the title of Best Farmers Market in Maine in 2022, we are hoping to win this title again this year and maybe even have a shot at being voted the best in the nation!  

A collaboration between the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition, since 2008, AFMC has highlighted the important role farmers markets play in communities across the nation while celebrating the farmers, staff, and volunteers that make markets happen. The 15th annual AFMC, set to run between June 19th and September 18th, on markets.farmland.org, is a fun competition that can help our market earn national recognition and local prestige! With votes from supporters like you, we’re hoping to take home part of the $15,000 prize pool. This money would help us continue to expand programming at the Market, like our
kid’s POP Club program, providing youth at the Market with vouchers to spend on fruits and veggies, encouraging exploration of foods and healthy eating, early engagement in local food systems and agriculture, and providing more income to local producers!


If you have been to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, then you already know that our diversity of vendors, activities for kids, food access programs, live music, commitment to conserving agricultural land, and community feeling make us one of the best Markets in the region. We think we might be the best in the state, or even the country! To vote for the BTLT Farmers’ Market, visit the AFMC website today! And tell your friends, family, and neighbors to vote for us too!


A (Local) Food Community for All

At the BTLT Farmers’ Market, we work hard to ensure folks from all socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to access fresh produce and feel invited to participate in our local food system. Our Market works with the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets (MFFM) to participate in several food access programs including SNAP, Maine Harvest Bucks, and Bumper Crop.

This year, we saw an increase in the use of SNAP benefits at our Market! MFFM launched a postcard mailing for SNAP users in Brunswick, bringing about a dozen new SNAP shoppers to the Market. Both the Brunswick Downtown Market and the Brunswick Winter Market have started participating in the SNAP program this season creating more opportunities to access food in our community. With these additions, all five farmers markets in the region are accessible to SNAP families.

The Maine Harvest Bucks program offers bonus vouchers for SNAP users to spend on fresh produce. The match shifted from last year’s 1:1 match to a 2:1 (50%) match of SNAP transactions. This change was due to an increase in the use of the program which has strained the funding. MFFM is currently fundraising to support the Harvest Bucks program. In 2021 $1.2 million was spent with local food producers through SNAP and Maine Harvest Bucks, according to MFFM.

BTLT has continued to participate in the Bumper Crop, a workplace wellness program developed by the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets that provides employees with vouchers to be spent at farmers markets. The program has continued to expand with employers across the state and the number of participating farmers markets. While BTLT’s Bumper Crop voucher use was lower this season, other markets in the area have joined the program resulting in a net increase in use in our communities. If you are an employer or an employee in Maine and think this program would be a good fit for your company or organization, you can learn more here

We are also excited to share that we are continuing to expand our food access programming with a new Pop Club program for the 2023 season. POP Clubs provide youth at Farmers Markets with vouchers to spend on fruits and veggies, encouraging exploration of foods and healthy eating, early engagement in local food systems and agriculture, and providing more income to local producers. Vendors are encouraged to partake in POP Club programs by offering “POP” deals for kids. We are looking forward to launching this program in the spring and continuing to explore more ways to expand food access and invite more folks to our Market! 

Farmers’ Market Wraps up Another Stellar Season

by Julia St.Clair, BTLT Agricultural Programs Coordinator

Earlier this month we wrapped up our 2022 Farmers’ Market season at Crystal Spring Farm! We had such a busy and fabulous time each Saturday, and have already started planning for next year.

This season we had 34 vendors from around the region selling everything from heirloom tomatoes to traditionally fermented miso to knit wool socks to freshly roasted peppers. But what makes this Market so special is not just the great variety of products, but the sense of community; neighbors chatting, vendors sharing stories and answering questions, kids running around, folks listening to the live music, and even the occasional dancing.

We welcomed several new vendors this year who we hope will return again next year. Adrian from Empanada Club is already promising to work on some new recipes. Plus another one of these new vendors, GoGo Refill (the spot for low-waste sustainable home and body products), will soon be opening a shop right here in Brunswick!

At the kid’s table we introduced Beatrice the Golden Bee, a figurine who hung out with a different vendor each week, reminding us of the importance of pollination to our food system. Those who found her while at the Market were awarded stickers to take home. She was a hit with kiddos throughout the season, with several Market-regulars showing up each week to seek her out, racing back to the BTLT booth to claim their prize!

Our Farmers Market poster returned this year as well, featuring artwork from Addison Wagner, who works at Whatley Farm. The poster features her stunning pencil drawing of hands holding up kale, bringing art together with a love for local agriculture. Addison also joined us at the Market several weekends selling prints, alongside her partner, printmaker Anastasia Inciardi.

This year we are incredibly excited to share that the BTLT Farmers’ Market voted as the #1 Farmers’ Market in Maine during America’s Farmers Market Celebration hosted by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition. We are thrilled to offer a space where all are welcome to engage with our local food system. A huge thank you to the vendors who show up each week with jokes and smiles and a shout out to all the volunteers throughout the season who make this fabulous Farmers’ Market possible! We can’t wait to see you all again out on the green at Crystal Spring Farm next spring!


Meet Addison Wagner, this year’s BTLT Farmers’ Market Poster Artist

This year we were thrilled to bring back the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market poster and even more delighted to have someone from our Market design it! Addison Wagner, a talented artist, and member of the team over at Whatley Farm, drew the beautiful handful of kale featured on our 2022 poster. Addison, who is based in Portland, Maine, works primarily in graphite and charcoal, as well as pen and ink. Addison’s work highlights the beauty of the natural world in incredible detail and is deeply tied to her own connection to her environment. 

In Addison’s words: 

I’ve always had a passion for both art-making and environmental work, two pursuits that felt at odds until I found my way to sustainable farming. That discovery came about through a combination of factors: a desire to contribute to a community, a love for spending time outside, a preference for hands-on labor, and pleasure in witnessing the results of that labor. In my experiences working on farms since, I’ve enjoyed the ways that environmentally beneficial farming and art-making overlap – both require careful observation and a deliberate and thoughtful investment of time and energy. Appreciation for the work itself and belief in the final product are principles that inform both my farming and my art.” 

Be sure to join us at the Farmers’ Market September 3rd and September 10th when Addison will be set up selling prints alongside printmaker Anastasia Inciardi! Plus you can pick up a poster at the BTLT any Saturday for the rest of the season, we printed limited copies so be sure to snag yours soon. 

Our Farmers’ Market poster brings together a love of art and local agriculture. We look forward to continuing the Market poster tradition and embracing local artists in our community. 

Celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week!

Join us this Saturday at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm to celebrate National Farmers’ Market Week! Now in its 23rd year, National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration that highlights the vital role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. Amidst global change, it is now more important than ever to showcase the importance of farmers markets in our communities.

A key aspect of our mission as an organization is supporting local agriculture and commitment to strengthening our local food system. The BTLT Saturday Market plays an integral part in building community relationships around food and supporting our local agriculture, aquaculture, bakers, makers, and producers!

Be sure to stop by the BTLT info booth to enter our raffle or pick up a new scavenger hunt for the kiddos! We will be raffling off some fun prizes including BTLT merch, vouchers to spend at the Market, and tickets to the Common Ground Fair. To enter the raffle, simply head to the BTLT booth to have a photo taken of the goodies you got at the Market, and fill out a raffle ticket.

Plus, we are very excited that our incredible Market poster artist, Addy Wagner will be popping up on Saturday to sell some of her awesome prints. Be sure to stop by her tent to see her work!

Why celebrate National Farmers Market Week?* 

  • Farmers Markets are key for community food access. Since 2017, farmers market and direct marketing farmer redemptions of SNAP benefits have increased by 162 percent.
  • Farmers markets are the future of local food. Farmers markets are business incubators for young farmers; they provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs allowing them to start small and test new products.
  • Farmers markets fuel local economies. In 2020, approximately 78% of farms selling directly to customers sold all of their directly marketed food within a 100-mile radius of the farm.
  • Farmers markets support conservation, connection and education. Research indicates that by facilitating farmer to consumer interactions, farmers markets shift both purchasing habits of consumers and the growing practices of farmers, leading to the adoption of more sustainable practices.

*Statistics from Farmers Market Coalition 

Be sure to thank all your favorite farmers, makers, and bakers this week for being a part of this incredible farmers market and our local food community! There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into making this Farmers’ Market happen. We thank our vendors, shoppers, volunteers, and BTLT members for their support! Want to learn more about supporting your local farmers’ markets? Check out this blog post.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday at Crystal Spring Farm from 8:30am-12:30pm from May through October. 

Love Your Local Market

Did you know that Greater Brunswick is home to five farmers markets? They are such an incredible resource for local eaters, and the farms and food producers of the region. Each market is run by a different organization, or group of vendors, which means that there are various ways of supporting each one. Click here to learn more about the individual markets of the region.

Regardless of which market(s) you call your own, or if you’re visiting markets while traveling, here are some easy ways to support them:

  • Shop at markets often! Get to know your farmers, fishermen and food producers.
  • Shop the whole market (meat, veggies, cheese, prepared foods, etc.) and try new foods often.
  • If it’s in season, purchase it at the farmers’ market. Click here to see what’s in season, and some fun accompanying recipes. 
  • Volunteer at the SNAP booth or information booth at your favorite markets. All markets in our region need volunteers right now – reach out via email to let them know you’d like to get involved!
    • Brunswick-Topsham Land Trusts’ Saturday Market at Crystal Spring Farm – market@btlt.org
    • Brunswick Farmers Market – brunswickfmvolunteer@gmail.com
    • Bath Farmers Market – haagpw@gmail.com
    • Bowdoinham Farmers Market – bowdoinhamfoodpantry@gmail.com
    • Brunswick Winter Market, jamison.pacheco@gmail.com
  • Invite your friends and family to the market with you.
  • Donate to the market to help offset the operating cost or purchase market merchandise (hats, bags, shirts, etc). Most markets are run by a host of folks volunteering their time and resources.
  • Bring your own shopping bags and produce bags. And return plant pots, egg crates, onion bags, etc.
  • Talk to your employer about adding farmers markets to their employee wellness plan. Maine has a program called BumperCrop run by the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.

Eating locally is a wonderful way to support the local economy, your community, and a healthy environment through sustainable farming and food production. Get eating folks!

Why isn’t there more parking at BTLT’s Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm?

Have you ever been driving around, waiting for a parking spot at the Market on a Saturday morning, and asked yourself – there are all these fields, why can’t we just use them for parking?

It’s a good question, with a good answer: Crystal Spring Farm was conserved for its agricultural value, including some of the best farmland soil in this part of the state. The fields around the Market, while currently in fallow, are leased to the farming operation run by Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon, and using those fields for parking would degrade their agricultural value, now, and for generations to come.

We have explored moving the Market to another area of the farm. We considered south of the solar array, but that land is wet and has a large area of federally mapped wetland, so simply is not suitable for the Market. We also considered moving the Market to an area near the Tom Settlemire Community Garden off Baribeau Drive. But all of Crystal Spring Farm on the north side of Pleasant Hill Road, while owned by BTLT, has an easement held by the State of Maine. That agricultural easement will not allow the land to be used for a Market. BTLT has explored other options as well – in 2018 and 2019 we offered a $2 shuttle service that ran regularly from several stops in-town Brunswick, but that service was hardly used. We’ve also tried to encourage bicycling and walking to Market, and we encourage parking along Woodside Road and walking the trail to Market, but have not seen a significant decrease in the number of cars using the parking lot.

BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market at Brunswick Landing (2020)

After almost two seasons of being at other locations during Covid, at the end of 2021 we surveyed many of you to see if you wanted to stay at Brunswick Landing – where parking wasn’t an issue – or return to the Farm. Customers and vendors alike told us resoundingly they wanted to return to the Farm, so we did. BTLT has done our best to make the Market safe and accessible, while working within the constraints of hosting the weekly event on land that also grows food for our community.

We spend many hours each season seeking volunteers and additional staff to help us with parking, setting up cones, and keeping everyone safe. If you are willing to help, we always need volunteers from 7:30-8:30 and 12:30-1:30 to set up and take down cones, and from 8:30-10:30 and 10:30-12:30 to help park cars. Contact market@btlt.org if you are interested in helping.

We all love the Market and we all love having it on a beautiful working farm. We ask all of you driving to Market to have patience as you look for a place to park, and consider that the person helping you find a place is likely a volunteer, so please be kind. We also ask every one of you to try to find ways to ride your bike, walk, or carpool to the Market.

Thank you!

The Cost of A Dozen Eggs

By Darius Salko of Senza Scarpe Farm, Brunswick, ME

We have all heard about what has been going on with the global supply chain, shipping times and labor shortages.  Unsurprisingly these things impact feed costs, leading to significant increases over the last two years.  This led Danielle and I to take another look at our egg operation to try and find out the true costs.

Since I’m a big fan of transparency I’m going to tell you all what we found out.

  • The cheapest way we can raise laying hens is to purchase them from a large hatchery at 5-6 months old when they are just about ready to lay.  This places the labor and feed costs upon the pullet supplier up to that point.
  • We raise Comets (a cross between Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns) because they have the highest potential egg laying numbers.
  • The egg yield per bird stays high for roughly two years, then decreases significantly.  However, the hens continue to eat the same amount of feed despite producing significantly fewer eggs.  
  • Chickens will eat between 1/4lb-1/2lb of a complete feed ration per day.

Danielle and I have been wanting to switch to an organic feed for quite some time, but have been hesitating due to the impact it will have on our egg price.  We have a loyal following of customers who know us for our $5/dozen price and deep orange yolk color (from marigold extract in the feed) and we don’t want to lose them. Two years ago $5/doz was an OK price for eggs from hens fed a standard feed. With increasing feed prices, we are at the point where a price increase is necessary, so we decided that this year we would switch to organic. Since we have to raise prices, we might as well get something good out of it!

And now begins our truly deep dive in the numbers behind an egg laying operation.  

This section could be entitled “Lessons on Why Not to Farm” but we are going to call it “The Profit of an Egg Laying Operation Over 2 Years”.

We previously fed out Poulin egg layer pellets and have made the switch to Green Mountain Organic Egg Layer pellets which are currently $27.10 per 50lb bag. 


Inputs for 2 Years:

Input Cost  Number (wks, bales, days, etc) Total 
Birds $      9.00  100 $      900.00 
Feed Bags $    27.10  548 $ 14,850.80 
Scratch Feed (bag/wk) $    26.00  53 $   1,378.00 
Bedding (2 bales/wk) $      6.00  210 $   1,260.00 
Oyster Shells Bags $    17.00  4 $        68.00 
Nest Box Straw (bales for ) $    10.00  52 $      520.00 
Egg Cartons + Stickers  $      0.70  4,084 $   2,858.80 
Daily Labor  $      6.00  730 $   4,380.00 
Biweekly Labor $    12.00  52 $      624.00 
Electricity $      0.20  730 $      146.00 
Odds & Ends $    50.00  2 $      100.00 
Total Cost $ 27,085.60 


This table presents a neat and tidy picture of the input costs to make it easier to follow, but calculating these inputs is far more complicated, for example feed costs are done by multiplying the expected feed intake per bird per day by the number of birds, then multiply that by the number days in two years, and then dividing by the pounds of feed in a bag to get the number of bags.  Then you multiply the number of bags by the price, then you have the price for feed for two years.  Electricity was a tough number to calculate so we left it very low, but it includes things like multiple lights during winter and shoulder seasons, and heated water bases etc.. Odds and Ends includes things like equipment replacement, bulbs, diatomaceous earth, and any health treatments, etc, etc… 

Outputs:  the amazing egg machines! 

Best case scenario, Comets have been known to lay 6 eggs per week.  Unfortunately, this is not for a full 2 year stretch and my thoughts are that it is not in Maine winters either.  To calculate the outputs we chose 5 eggs per week (which still may be high but we will be keeping track of these lady’s over the years).  When we buy the birds they are not yet laying, so we removed 3 weeks from the beginning of our count. They will also go through a soft molt or two before the end of 2 years when they will not lay eggs while they build back their feathers, so we took another 2 weeks off the count.  We didn’t know what to do about the time when the hens will lay pullet eggs (smaller than normal eggs), so we just counted them as regular eggs for the purposes of this budget but will most likely discount them until the eggs size up to large. 

That’s 5 eggs X 100 birds X 98 weeks = 49,000 eggs over 2 years (WAY TO GO LADIES!). 49,000 eggs / 12 per carton = 4,084 dozen

Now, The Grand Finale:

Cost inputs over 2 years = $27,085.60 (did you think it was going to be so high? We didn’t) divided  by the number of dozens we will have to sell 4,084 dozen eggs = $6.63 per dozen just to cover our inputs.

I bet you’re asking yourself what about Overhead? What about Profit? What if each chicken eats more than 3/8# of feed in the winter?!

Well, here’s the deal… We do keep farm insurance that we have to pay for and there are a bunch of other factors that we haven’t put in the budget like pest management, chicken mortality, inevitable feed price increases, egg delivery time/gas, and the time it took me to write this magnum opus on chicken budgeting, etc. But we also do have the bird at the end of the two years. The story with that: We have found that butchering and selling stew hens is basically a wash: The amount of money paid for a stew hen is just about enough to cover the butcher fee, gas and time to bring to harvest, and freezer cost, etc. We could sell them to other chicken keepers that don’t care about production, but that is for sure a crap-shoot as the price is low and buying is sporadic at best, and you are keeping hens alive that aren’t laying well so you are losing money every day they don’t go in the freezer.  If we can, we will choose to slaughter them for stew-hens (because I’m pretty sure the soup they make is an unrecognized SUPERFOOD. Move over kale).

So what’s the answer?????  How much do we sell the eggs for given all that we now know?

$7 / Dozen my loyal readers…. 

If the birds can manage to lay every bit of the 4,084 dozen, that will give us some wiggle room for price increases and mortality, etc. (the stuff mentioned above) and a little bit to cover some of the farm overhead.  If input costs and egg yield stay the same (which is unlikely) we are looking at $7/dz x 4,084 dozens = $28,588 in gross profit, but now we have to subtract the input costs, $28,588 – $27,085.60 = $1,502.40 of net profit.  This is realized after 2yrs of successful work.  After these 2 years we will have a roughly 5% net profit margin, which we still haven’t subtracted overhead costs from… 

If that day truly comes, and I am sitting here in the fall of 2023 with $1,502.40 of your gracious money burning a hole in my pocket…. I know what I’m going to do:

I’m going to use $900 to pay for 100 new birds (think they will cost the same?), then take Danielle, the kids and my mom to Maine Beer Co. or Flight Deck and buy 4 pizza’s, 2 salads and a few beers. Then, I’ll put the remainder in the kids’ college funds.  So, in conclusion:

To those that won’t be able to buy from us anymore (or as frequently)… it’s OK, we have to make decisions like that too!  We appreciate your past business and any business we do get in the future, whether it be on eggs or something else.

For those that can make the jump with us to $7/dz we appreciate you too!  And you should know that it’s not just keeping small farming and local economies afloat. It’s also helping keep pesticides out of the soils for healthier food and water systems.

The Green Mountain Feed people put it pretty well on their feed bag:

“We are proud to be a part of the organic production movement. Any system that helps to eliminate the use of herbicides, pesticides, and artificial hormones from the food chain is good for us and our children. By purchasing this product, you are helping to support a system of agriculture that helps preserve our soil and water supplies”.

Editor’s Note:  In this instance the editors are a couple of the folks at BTLT.  Some of us get Senza Scarpe’s weekly sales email. They are almost always entertaining, and sometimes extremely educational.  This is one of those.  After reading it we asked Darius and Danielle if they would allow to use their sales email as a blog post.  Food producers are amazing individuals (or families) and we want everyone to understand just how much they do for all of us.  So, thank you Danielle, Darius, Mama Salko, Po, Geo and every one of you farmers and food producers who are feeding our community! 

Second Note:  For those of you who read the original email from Darius and are thinking, “wait, it was different last time and Darius is funnier than this”, we asked to make some edits and then checked them with Darius and Danielle.