The second in our Membership Month blog posts (if you haven’t already, check out the first blog post),we offer some more insights into the types of farms that are a part of the EFAO community.
Membership by farm size
EFAO represents members of all sizes, even though the majority of farmer members (63%) operate farms between 20 and 250 acres. EFAO has several farmer members and aspiring farmer members with very small farms, or even backyard gardens. But it also represents operations of 500 acres and bigger – the largest one operating a dairy with 1000 acres.
EFAO members offer a large variety of products. These range from vegetables as the most listed product, over fruits, grains, a variety of meat products, to niche and specialized products – seeds, fibre products, or nursery stocks.
In more detail, of those members who reported their products,
- two third of members (63.1%) offer produce of some type (veggies or fruits).
- almost two third of members (57.3%) offer animal products (meat or dairy).
- one third of members (32.8%) offer grains or other field crops.
Half of all producers of vegetables or fruits also offer animal products, and half of those offering field crops as well. It is thus fair to describe the EFAO membership as highly diversified, and EFAO represents integrated crop-livestock operations.
EFAO is thus not a typical commodity group that would focus on optimizing the production and marketing of a single product. Instead, EFAO represents farmers with complex production and marketing strategies. Typical problems that our members face center around managing diversity, e.g. combining wholesale and direct marketing, integrating livestock into field fertility management, multi-species grazing, intercropping in vegetable fields, and complex crop rotations that include “exotic” crops (not corn, beans, wheat, canola) with limited commodity markets. Such management tasks tend optimize trade-offs among multiple income streams, rather than maximizing the benefits from a single activity.