34. Curtis Millsap on Building Community through Farming
This week’s episode is a fantastic conversation with Curtis Millsap of Millsap Farms, a 20-acre farm in Springfield, MO. We cover a lot of ground in this extensive episode, including how Curtis started his farming career, how they grew their famous on-farm pizza nights, how using Harvie as CSA management software has been a game-changer, a discussion about winter growing and growing in an earth-bermed greenhouse, and so much more. It’s a long one so you may need to listen to it in installments!
In This Episode:
>> Why he’s moving the farm away from deep tillage towards minimal tillage
>> How choice and convenience are the most important factors for satisfied CSA customers
>> How to tackle to fear of the empty box by using CSA management and planning
>> How defining roles between staff makes delegation clear
>> Takeaways from the Frozen Ground winter growing conference
>> An overview of Curtis’ earth-bermed greenhouse inspired by ones used in China
>> How his advice for new farmers is to learn is a less costly way by apprenticing
Teaser content to get people to listen
Quotes from the episode:
“Fluffing does not solve soil problems”
“Start with the end in mind” when planning your CSA
About the Guest
Curtis and Sarah Millsap, along with their ten children, farm manager, apprentice, and occasional volunteers, have been operating Millsap Farms, a 20-acre farm in Springfield MO, for the past 12 years. They grow 2 acres of vegetables and flowers, with 20,000 s.f. (almost ½ acre) under greenhouses, high tunnels, and caterpillar tunnels. They use organic practices and sell through a year-round 170 member CSA, farmers’ market, and restaurants. They sow, transplant, harvest, and sell, 50 weeks out of the year. The Millsaps also host a weekly pizza night from May to October, where they have 250 people out to the farm for wood-fired pizza and live music. They are always looking for ways to do more with less, including energy and water conservation measures such as no-till, solar greenhouses, stored heat, etc. They love to teach people who are looking to enter the field of farming, having hosted, as of the end of the 2018 season, over 25 interns, most of whom are still involved in farming full time, 4 of whom now have their own farms. Additionally, they host hundreds of people on tours each year, from large extension organized field days, to farm families from near and far who drop in for an impromptu tour of their farm. Curtis speaks to various groups about how to design farms for a balanced life, including using the right tools, infrastructure, labor, and marketing mix to fit each farm. The Millsaps and their farm crew consider themselves stewards of creation and take that responsibility seriously. They also love to travel and camp, and spend an average of 5 weeks a year away from the farm, often taking their farm crew with them to enjoy the hills and creeks of the Ozarks
Resources and mentions
Harvie CSA software: use the code ‘growingfarmers’ to get $200 off at https://www.harvie.farm/forfarmers/
And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!
We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, what to look for in a farm prooperty, etc), which you can download here.