You can do everything right but nature gets the final say
Even within their stake in the market, things are not always easy at Happy Cat. Just this past spring, Mountz had lined up six planting days in May. It was cold in Pennsylvania, and on the few days it wasn’t unseasonably cold, it was wet. In the unforgiving math of agriculture, six planting days were done in only three. Come the end of July, it’s normally time for the “tomato tsunami” (as he calls it), when he’ll harvest 2,500lbs of tomatoes a week. Instead, it’s only drizzling; the farm has only harvested 400lbs.
There was hail the week before that, but luckily, nothing was really harmed. When it’s summer, and hot in Pennsylvania, a sudden storm could mean disaster, so he’s constantly keeping an eye on the weather. Selling heirloom vegetables, which require more tedious work to cultivate and harvest, means that some pieces of produce can earn a price tag of up to $5, which can cause some farmers market customers to balk, and competitors with larger farms to try to undercut his bottom line.
“If you get caught up on the challenges, you should do something else, because every day is a challenge,” Mountz said. “A big mower broke last week, then a weed wacker broke. It all happens at once, and if you aren’t optimistic about it you’re being a curmudgeon and people can taste that in your food.”