Monday, August 27, 2012

A Small Grower's Rant-Why are you haggling with me?

I think I am turning into a grouch.
It seems to me it happens every year about this time.
I think it is because I'm tired.
I always describe this time of year on the farm  like finishing a marathon. The finish line is in sight, end of the main season and I'm crawling towards it with every little bit of energy I have left.

When I write on my blog I try to be pleasant. I'm a positive person and grateful for all I have and the fact I do what I do for a living.

But it seems to me people really don't understand it very much at all.

People idealize it. Be your own boss, work outside, get exercise. YES, YES and YES! It's all true.
But also true is the fact that the weather dictates my success any given year, it is very hard work physically, my hours are very long, and I don't get out much.  I'm not bitching. This is all my choice.

Also true is the fact that I have one family income-mine- and that the bills roll in. Vet bills, bills to fix my old car, pay help, buy supplies, look after my family. You know. Just like you and everybody else.  Food bills aren't too high, thank goodness.  And I don't live a life with too many frills.

This week I think the hard work really proved it has gotten to me. It has been a hard year. Dry beyond belief, and some crops have struggled. We've worked hard...very hard to keep things growing and healthy and to grow quality food.
It was when the haggling started that I started to get a bit irate.   I try to set my prices reasonably considering that I grow organically and grow some pretty cool food.  But my prices are my prices and honestly I have had people say to me that my prices aren't enough for the work I do and they shove a little extra cash in my hand. Happened today in fact, and thanks so much for that.
Personally I haven't seen a lot of small growers like myself cruising in a Mercedes, letting the world know of their lucrative career choice. Do you?
I also don't see people going into Tim Hortons and asking for a better deal. Or to restaurants, or grocery stores or clothing stores or.... well where else?
It's kind of insulting actually and I don't think people who haggle with me get it. I work hard and I am not trying to rip anybody off. I'm trying to live and support myself and my family doing this.
I don't make minimum wage. It's legal when you're a farmer you know. Food prices are such that I don't.  I knew that getting into this field.
But when you quibble over 50 cents a pound for my tomatoes, or an extra 50 cents for my beans or garlic I want to cry. Honestly. Because I'm tired and have tried hard. Gone the extra mile so to speak. Some things I grow are quite unique and hard to find. And like all small farmers I do work hard to produce what I grow.
I'm not ripping you off, I am simply trying to make a living.

Thanks to all who respect that.


Karen said...

I can vouch for all of your hard work. I can also vouch that you deserve to be grouchy by now.

Kirsten said...

I'm a follower of Karen's and a fellow farmer (well, an aspiring one). I know how hard it is to farm using organic methods, to actually care about what you grow and put in the effort to grow it RIGHT. Thank you for doing what you do. You are great (and I love all the crazy weird plants you grow!). Sending you a hug and a few extra dollars from across two countries.

-Kirsten from Alabama

Anonymous said...

I used to work in, the run a non-profit thrift store. This store gives away thousands of $'s in merchandise to those in need, supplies, with community partners, school supplies and new winter outerwear for kids in families of low-income. People of all income levels shop there as the store is in an affluent community and great items are donated. Almost daily, people who had arrived in a nice vehicle and wearing lovely clothes would try to haggle over an already low price. i would explain that we try to price fairly, have tons of items on sale daily and pay staff costs and huge rent.One guy said to m, " but I like to haggle". I asked him how that worked for him at Safeway.
Another guy asked to take home a television without paying for it to "see how he liked it." I almost told him to go to Safeway and ask them to let him take home a roast, cook it, eat it and pay for it only if he liked it.
Keep your chin up and don''t let the idiots get to you!

Spokangela said...

You have inspired me to forge ahead on my journey to own and operate a small organic farm that may eventually become my sole source of income. Some people just do not get it. And I would venture to say, said people have never tried to grow anything organically. You are fantastic and I am excited to order some heirloom seeds from you next year!

Momfishx2 said...

That has got to be really trying, after all your hard work!

It may not be *just* you. In these tough times, there are a lot of how-to-save-money sites, or sections of sites. A lot of them parrot the same advice over and over again. One suggestion is that yes, everyone will haggle. Even big box stores and the like.

Try "I give the best price I can to *all* of my customers" with a smile to end that conversation.

Laura said...

Being a small business owner is sooooo hard. Most people just don't get it. I say save your rotten tomatoes to throw at their cars as they leave!

Karen said...

I think some people get a "high" trying to get a deal (in their eyes). The work, regardless of your farming method, is hard. I and my husband farm in MN growing feed, fiber and fuel grains. We don't work any less hard than our neighbors who choose to farm organically. @Kristen, let's stop throwing stones at the opposing choices.

Laura Bee said...

I love a good haggle-at a yardsale. Honestly, I don't think i've ever done it at a farmers market. Never occured to me. Thank you chosing to feed us & love what you do. @Karen: I don't hink that was a direct hit at big farmers. We know farming is hard work anyway you do it.

Shana said...

People suck. I'm so sorry they do this too you. I like the suggestion from some of your other commenters that you should ask them if they try and haggle at the Loblaws.

Brenda Watts said...

Linda, Try not to let it get to you. I make my living in my wood studio and sometimes folks will ask me for a 'deal' or consider my prices high. I try not to be offended because for every person who does that there are 50 wonderful people who appreciate and value what someone like yourself does does.
I think it is just that some folks do not stop to realize that you may LOVE what you do but you also need to make a living.
Hang in there, I am coming over from TAODS blog and after reading your story..I am in AWE of your farm and the wonderful things you grow and preserve for the rest of us.

Therese said...

Hi Linda,
I've come over from The Art of Doing Stuff blog, and I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Karen's piece on you and Tree & Twig. You are truly inspiring and I am now truly inspired to grow more interesting things in my veggie garden.
Sending you thoughts from Melbourne, Australia.
As we say here 'Don't let the buggers get you down'.

Bobbi said...

Make a sign..........

Prices not negotiable.
Thank you for respecting my hard work.

Sorry people are jerking your chain.
Supporting you in your endeavor to supply healthy, delicious food to the world.

Willow said...

Yeah, I'd think that farming would be tough. But it must be awesome knowing that you are leaving the world a better place.

I love buying directly from farmers (especially when I know they are practicing sustainable, organic farming, whether certified or not) because then I get to be a part of that.

Haggling for prices goes against the whole ethos of sustainable shopping.....

bricolage said...

I was just out in my small garden today lamenting at what a lousy farmer I am and thinking at the same time how hard it is to grow food. I am successful at general gardening but the tomatoes, corn, and even the easiest of squashes just don't do well. So I know that it takes a lot of hard work to farm for a living. As an artist, the question that I get regularly is, "How long did it take you to paint that?" And my current answer is, "A lifetime." Keep up the good work, it is appreciated.

Karen Duke said...

I read Karen's story about you on her blog, and I'm in awe of what you do. I have a pretty ambitious one-woman organic garden, but it's only a part-time job for me. I do own my own business and once had somebody trying to beat me up on the price of a fireplace so hard that I said in exasperation: "Let's be done with this. I'll flip you for it; heads you get half off, tails you pay double". He decided to pay the very fair price we were asking. Small business owners work very hard and take huge gambles that things will go well when they spend money on inventory and equipment, and are often the lowest paid workers in their company. You could say "if you're that hard up for food, come work for me in the fields for free for a full day, and I'll pay you in food".

Linda said...

Wow-thanks everybody for your encouragement. I do deal with a lot of wonderful people and need to remember that when the others get me down.