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 BLOG >> October 2022

Fight Inflation with Community [Economics
Posted on October 29, 2022 @ 07:12:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Rising inflation is one of the biggest issues confronting us now. We are told that to stop inflation we have to increase interest rates to the point where we create a temporary recession that will eventually reduce demand that will either stop price rises or reduce prices back to more manageable levels. That is one prominent macroeconomic view of how to control inflation.

Another way you can help control inflation is through community. I was recently reminded of this when I hired a larger company who I had no personal relation with to deliver gravel to fix a road through my field that got rutted during our last concert at the farm. I hired the company because they were quick and efficient in the past and I wanted to complete the project while the weather was good. The company charged me almost $500 to deliver a 20 ton load of gravel. Luckily for my pocketbook I only purchased one load. There was a 5 day delay in delivering another load. I had to return my father-in-laws tractor which I was going to use to spread out and smooth out the gravel and decided to cancel my order for more loads at that time.

Next to my farm is a business owner who mostly does forestry related work but owns alot of machinery. He approached me after the first load was delivered and mentioned that I could probably do the job cheaper if I got the gravel from my father-in-laws gravel pit. I approached him again after I told the first company I didn't want them to deliver any more gravel. His big excavator was in a pit nearby, not my father-in-laws pit, but I wanted the job done so asked him to proceed with that gravel. He started delivering gravel and brought in a mini-excavator to form the road. He did an excellent job and at the end of the day charged me 200 dollars a load. I believe I got that rate because in this case I interact with my neighbor even if it is just to wave to him as we pass by each other in the morning, his machinery and pit were nearby the job site, and he gave me a neighborly price for his services.

In rural areas you tend to run into people more frequently and the bonds of community are built up from these interactions, sharing the same landscape, and sharing a common culture where you both are knowledgeable of the same news to talk about (like a new golf course that wants to expand into our community and the controversies surrounding it). The community is potentially an inflation fighting resource when you have need of other community members to help you with your projects.

Another case is a 12x16 foot outbuilding that I am putting up to store some farm machinery. I was thinking about getting around 12 pieces of 2 in x 6 in x 16 foot lumber for the roof rafters from a nearby hardware store that would likely charge me 2 to 3 dollars a foot for the lumber. The main reason I was thinking of going that route was because the lumber was a standard width (1.5 inches) and you can buy required hurricane ties for that width. My brother mills wood and I checked out his wood pile and he had some nice 2 in x 6 in lumber milled up. I talked to him yesterday morning about what I wanted and he came by with a load of wood that afternoon. That wood will be substantially cheaper than the wood I would have purchased at the local hardware store and the wood is also quite a bit stronger because it is milled to a true 2 in x 6 in dimension, not 1.5 in x 5.5 in that nominal store bought 2 x 6 lumber is. I should be able to buy some end wall hurricane ties to secure the rafters to the plate (the interior rafters use a different type of hurricane tie that typically only comes in a size that fits 1.5 in wide lumber) and get up to code.

You won't be able to get cheaper gas from your neighborhood gas station or groceries from your neighborhood grocery store. There are limits to how much you can use community to help you fight inflation. That does not negate the fact that there are some significant expenses that can be substantially reduced when you engage certain people in your community to assist you in your projects. I probably saved over 2500 dollars in gravel and lumber costs in the last couple of days by reaching out to my community for assistance with my projects.

I think fighting food inflation is another primary use of community. I have been on the giving end of this equation where I have allowed neighbors and family to freely harvest from my wild blueberry fields. While I could have asked for something in return, I wasn't going to be able to harvest it all and was happy that someone was getting the benefit of eating the berries.

In conclusion, in these times of rising inflation I would argue that community is an important resource in helping you fight inflation. The community isn't necessarily a bunch of people who hug each other each time they see each other. It can simply be loose associates who you interact enough with, and share some common points of interest with, that you might get different treatment than other people for goods and services, or who you might treat differently for the resources and services you have to offer.


Event Business [Agriculture
Posted on October 25, 2022 @ 02:21:00 PM by Paul Meagher

Alot of my time and energy from august onward went into preparing for a couple of annual festivals we hosted at our farm. Our festivals are branded "Blueberry Jam". Our summer festival took place outdoors August 17-18, 2022 at the beginning of the wild blueberry harvesting season. Our autumn festival (the "Harvest Series") took place inside our barn Oct 7-9, 2022 a couple of weeks after the blueberries are typically harvested. We started the festival after I purchased some wild blueberry fields 4 years ago and we were looking for a name that would pay tribute to blueberries. These festivals are now the largest revenue generators for our farm.

A summer without covid restrictions meant we were able to host more people at our events and in tighter quarters. We decided to release 600 tickets per event for our two-day outdoor festival. We sold around 400 tickets on Friday and sold out on Saturday, turning people away at the gate. That was more than the 250 per event we were allowed to sell last year due to covid restrictions. We hope to grow the outdoor festival further next year.

The Villages band was a headliner on the first day of our two day outdoor festival (Oct 17-18, 2022). They delivered a lively performance with their unique celtic rock music to an appreciative crowd. Their music is featured on the sound track our videographers Dave & Sky created on the YouTube video below which we will use to promote the 2023 outdoor festival.

We used social media, mostly Instagram and Facebook, to market the event. The music event organizer, Rankin MacInnis, frequently posted to Instagram and Facebook to create ongoing buzz and also created some great graphics and merchandise for the event. For a small fee, concert goers could tent in our field for the night. There was quite a bit of uptake on camping and I expect that aspect of the event to continue to grow and evolve next year. Camping makes it economical and possible (no accommodations otherwise) for people to travel from farther away to attend our festival.

Our events have 4 sources of income: concert tickets, merchandise, camping, and food. I feel we can continue to grow on all aspects again next year as people appeared to have a good time this year and we have a large and growing amount of Blueberry Jam merchandise out in the public helping to advertise our festivals and brand.

We recently hosted the autumn concert series in our barn each night from Oct 7th to 9th, 2022. We had 4 music acts per night that went from 8:00 pm to midnight (although it often went later). We experimented with selling 150 to 170 tickets per event because we weren't sure what the capacity should be post-covid where people were free to dance and mingle more freely. Here is a video from our Saturday night concert with a soundtrack from the Aaron MacDonald band who performed the closing act that night.

Our music events don't adhere to any particular genre as we have artists performing rock and roll, country, folk, reggae, indie, etc... Me and my wife will be attending a 4 day music conference from November 3rd to 6th, 2022 where we will be able to sample alot of new and established music performers. Whereas we used to go to this annual music conference just to enjoy the many and varied music performers, we are increasingly attending the conference to look for musical talent to suggest to our music organizer and for other music events we might host on the farm next year. Our outdoor concert is also nominated for "event of the year" at this conference but we are up against alot of larger events where we are a smaller rural event, so I'm not betting on a win but we are evolving/innovating in the music+venue+parking+camping+food+merch+branding space that is a festival.

I never really expected to get into the event business. The main reason I wanted to host the first event was to create some awareness for the farm so that when it came time to sell our wine there would be some brand recognition for our farm. Four years later, we still haven't sold any of the wine we are making (hopefully next year) but our event business has taken on a life of its own to the extent that we are more concerned about whether the wine manufacturing/selling regulations will interfere with our event business.

As I wind down the event business for this year, I look forward to what next year will hold. Partnering with a skilled music organizer was a good decision as it paired nicely with my skill set as the venue developer. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration in growing the Blueberry Jam festivals. The combination of hosting a music event and offering overnight camping intrigues me. I now have an inventory of 4 portable toilets which allows me to host music events and campers for up to 200 people without any portable toilet cost except toilet paper and my time to clean them. We hosted our first wedding in our barn this year and have two booked for next year. We also offered tenting to a large group of runners who couldn't be accommodated otherwise. The running event has booked our venue for tenting next year. The event business has tipped our farm into the profit making zone for the first time since we owned the farm. I can no longer use the farm to lower my taxable income, but the farm will not make too much of a profit after I reinvest the profits into improving the venue for next year.




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