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  1. Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset When it comes to content creation, I often think about writing on topics specific to the industry in which I work. While there may be some benefit to consistency of topic choice in my blog, specificity is no longer the nature of my business. All too frequently, I judge my success on the actions of others rather than the accomplishments I have made in my own life. Work in my daily life and thoughts shared here with you help me hone and refine my systems for deliberate living. It’s important that we have role models and mentors, following the framework of those who we respect and value – but the idea is that we learn and adapt so that we ourselves can become the next generation of role models and mentors…it’s needed. The content published here on this blog and via the email list over the past year and a half covered a wide range of topics. That was covered in detail last month in a blog post titled “Transition and Progress” – which you can read here. The majority of the content created on the Deliberate Living Systems platform has been about taking active steps to live a more healthy, positive, and beneficial life. In large part, these topics covered four basic human needs: I am not interested in content specific to the green industry. I’ve struggled with explaining what Deliberate Living Systems is to people. It’s been challenging to accurately describe the mission and and vision behind Deliberate Living Systems. A company formed as a direct action of attempting to implement permaculture into my life and the lives of others, the mission and vision has been equally difficult to define. The content created has validated this statement…in the best way possible. Looking back on the content that embraces the four basic human needs is a good start, but through direct action and deliberate living, we can do better. Expanding on the four basic human needs, we can read about the seven dimensions of wellness: Social Wellness Emotional Wellness Spiritual Wellness Environmental Wellness Occupational Wellness Intellectual Wellness Physical Wellness After much thought on the manner in which content has been created and delivered to you, I continue my efforts to ensure that it is done so in a way that is effectively read and processed, so that you can take away what is relevant for your own life. At the end of the day, I enjoy sharing my life with you in this way and receive great joy when you share your journey with me. The community of like-minded people like us is growing. We are all taking active steps to deliberately improve our lives. Blog posts will continue covering a wide variety of topics, but will focus on what I’ve identified as three primary components of a Deliberate Living System: Seven Dimensions of Wellness Permaculture Entrepreneurship Email format will continue being sent as “The Sunday Review” as it has been, but I will try to make a push in an attempt to get it back to a weekly email. Keeping the emails brief and to the point will be easier to create…and easier for you to read. Please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family via email or social media. The buttons below will hopefully make it easy for you to do so. Also, please share your favorite blogs, books, podcasts, etc. in the comments below. I’m always curious so see what you’re reading. I love learning about what keeps your monkey mind entertained and all the various things that make YOU tick. Many thanks and keep living deliberately. The post THREE PRIMARY COMPONENTS OF A DELIBERATE LIVING SYSTEM appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.
  2. Darby Simpson

    Consultation Sale: Limited Spots Available

    If you have been considering signing up for a one-on-one consult with me, this is a great time to jump on board! I have decided to run a promotion for two different consults: You can sign up for a two hour session and receive a 20% discount, or a 4 hour session to get a 25% discount. In every consultation I do, it is custom tailored to one person: you. The form you fill out for our time together is very strategically thought out so that we can make the most of your time and money so as to focus on what you need assistance with. Be it infrastructure and production, to marketing and cash flow planning, or anything in between it is all about you, your farm and your specific situation. A consultation is a great investment into your farming operation that will save you way more money and time than you spend on it. But don’t just take my word for it, read thru some of the testimonials on my website to see what others are saying. However, there are only 5 slots for the 4 hour session and 10 slots for the 2 hour session available. And once they are sold out, they are gone! There is only one catch, the consult must take place in either January or February of 2016. You don’t have to use all of the time at once, but simply use it all in the allotted time frame. If you are ready to sign up, simply fill out the consultation form on my website and I’ll be in touch to get our time together scheduled. The post Consultation Sale: Limited Spots Available appeared first on Darby Simpson.
  3. Rob Kaiser

    Social Wellness and Social Media

    In a recent blog post titled, Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System[1], we read that these components are the Seven Dimensions of Wellness, Permaculture, Entrepreneurship. Today, we’re discussing Social Wellness and Social Media. Social Wellness Social Wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people in our world. Our ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers contributes to our Social Wellness.[2] We relate to and connect with other people in our world a number of different ways. Over the past century, these ways have changed dramatically. Over the past few decades, the change has been even greater. Currently we are experiencing one of the most monumental shifts regarding our own humanity. This shift is perhaps most noticeable with regard to technology and human connectivity. Connectivity with humans has become integrated with social media. Social Media Let’s examine the term “social media” Social: Media: Combined: Social media Personal Social Media Usage I am a user of the following social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The only accounts that are personalized to/for myself are Twitter and LinkedIn. The way in which I use Facebook and Instagram is via business and/or organization pages, where I create and/or moderate the contact that is shown on those various pages. Social Media Usage Experimentation For years, I maintained a personal Facebook account. I also struggled with my inability to effectively manage the way I used it. I allowed it to be a tremendous time suck. Accordingly, on two separate occasions I have “left” Facebook (aka “Hotel California”). Facebook makes this very easy to do. We have the ability to check out any time we like, but unless we actually delete our account, we can’t ever leave. Disabling your account just puts everything “on hold.” The first time I “left” was in mid-2012. At that time, there were various reasons for doing so (if you’re curious, just comment below or shoot me a message here), and after approximately 8 months I re-enabled it. The act of leaving Facebook was a great social experiment. Try it. Currently, I am in the process of another personal Facebook hiatus. I left Facebook approximately 6 months ago and have enjoyed my time away from it. Again, I’m still using business and organization pages, but very deliberately. Over the past few months, I’ve received feedback on my decisions – both positive and negative. Social media, and it’s integration in the lives we lead and the shift in the societal norm is really quite fascinating. It’s easier to review this while slightly removed. In addition to feedback regarding my presence (or lack thereof) on social media – there’s also been a lot of discussion about it with friends, acquaintances, and business partners. Again, fascinating conversation on many levels for various reasons. Have you experimented with the way you use social media? If you have, I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below or email me here to share. Share this blog post on your own social media below and keep the conversation going! The post Social Wellness and Social Media appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems. [1] http://www.deliberatelivingsystems.com/three-primary-components-deliberate-living-system/ [2] https://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html
  4. Darby Simpson

    Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 4

    So far in this series I have covered various components of how to select a farmer’s market worthy of your time, energy and money. I’ve covered how a Market Master is the single most pivotal individual at the market, how location is key to sales and why the day and time the market is held matters so much. In part four of this series, we’ll cover why the market should marketing for you and what research you can do ahead of time to help choose the best option for your business. Marketing A huge aspect of farmers markets that is often overlooked is that of marketing. You need to dig deep and ask a lot of questions about what any potential market is going to do to help you be successful. You should be doing everything you possibly can do market yourself, but what are they doing to market themselves and hence you? One of the markets that we attend works with local businesses to sponsor a gift certificate giveaway once per month. On that Saturday morning the first 300 shoppers who walk through the door receive a five dollar gift certificate token that can be spent with any vendor in the market. This is a huge draw for shoppers! They show up early and on fire to go shopping just because they have a free $5 token in the hand. You wouldn’t believe how that changes the entire chemistry of the market. You’ll also want to make certain that they have an excellent web, e-mail and social media presence. They should be actively promoting their vendors and what products that can be found at the market, especially seasonally available products. The same market mentioned above sends out a weekly e-mail indicating which vendors will be in attendance, and highlights one of them each week in great detail. This helps shoppers to build a relationship with those vendors. Is a perspective market going to consistently ask you what product you’ll have in stock so they can pitch that to their audience in they days leading up to when you’ll have something available? Also consider any advertising they might do on behalf of the market. Ask what kind of marketing budget they have and how is it allocated. Ask if they seek out sponsors in order to increase revenue for additional marketing efforts. Research! If it all possible prior to applying and attending a market I would encourage you to do some reconnaissance work. Take your family out on a Saturday morning and walk through a handful of farmers markets that you are considering applying to. Consider the following as you stroll about in the market: How busy are they? Do you see a wide variety of products available for sale? Are there lots of actual farmers there, accented by artisan vendors like locally roasted coffee, baked goods, raw honey and mushrooms? Do they have not only veggie farmers, but local small fruits and orchards as well? Are the other vendors happily engaging in conversation with shoppers? Is there an information table that is operated by market staff where shoppers can get their questions answered? Do they have a hospitality tent were shoppers can elect to sit down and drink a cup of coffee or some prepared food they have just purchased from vendors at the market? What is the overall feel and ambience of the farmers market? Do you see any amenities like live music or kids activities? Is it a market you yourself would want to attend and shop at? What are the hours of operation? Is it logistically easy to walk around and see what products are available? Is the product you are raising underserved at this market or saturated? How many weeks is it open? A well run and busy farmers market will be Open from the first week in May to the last week of October. Conversely, a good winter market will situate itself to be open from sometime in November thru April when the outdoor markets are closed. In warmer climates, and outdoor market should be open nearly year round. You also want to inquire of the market master how they balance the number of vendors from each niche that are allowed into the market. There are two modes of thought that I have on this subject. One market we attend in the summer on Saturday mornings is so large and so well attended that the market staff operate it on a true free market basis. In short if you apply to the market and your products qualify for sale at that market you are allowed in – period. There is no discretion given to how many tomato vendors are there or meat vendors or people selling flowers etc. All of that said this market is so popular that seniority is used to divvy out the permanent spots at the beginning of each season. As such a new vendor may not get a permanent spot and may have to move around from week to week for the first season or two. However in time you can earn enough seniority that you get to select a permanent spot at the beginning of the season. Now this may not sound like a great way to run a farmers market, but in this case it works just fine due to sheer numbers. An average Saturday in the summer might see 5000 to 7000 people walk through this market in only five hours. With that kind of foot traffic there are ample customers for all 100 vendors that might be in attendance. The other aspect of how a smaller market might be run in which there is much less attendance is to make certain that there is a balance of vendors allowed to attend. Another market we attend on Saturday mornings usually has about 45 to 50 vendors. And on an average Saturday we might see 2000 people walk through this market in four hours. Since this market is smaller and there are less customers, they pay very close attention to the number of vendors from each niche that they’ll allow to participate each season. If you have too many of one niche, that can cause the sales to be divvied up so much that it becomes not worthwhile for all of them to attend. Any good market worth it’s salt is going to have hard concrete data they can give you as a perspective vendor when you ask these questions. As the market grows, they can add additional vendors based on sales data you provide and requests from shoppers of that market. To that end, you should inquire if the market conducts surveys of not only its vendors but also its shoppers and if it is constantly tweaking the makeup of the market to meet demand. Something else I would strongly encourage you to do while you are out investigating markets is to carefully interview the other vendors who sell there. Be courteous and observe when a vendor is not busy with a customer, and then ask if you can pick their brain about the pros and cons of that market. Do yourself a favor though if you are selling pastured meats, and pick the brain of a chemical free veggie guy, baker or value added food vendor. Because in that conversation you are going to get asked what it is you will be selling, and if you tell a meat guy you are selling meats you may not get all straight answers! Ask them how well attended the market is and ask them if the customers who attended are actually there to shop. While there should be a healthy social aspect of any farmers market, I have seen markets that are so social people are there to be seen by their friends instead of there to purchase real food. No market is perfect and you will have to do your own research, but there are a lot of key little things to consider when choosing a market. And make no mistake about it, you can do all the research in the world and think that you have found a real gem of a market to attend that is underserved in your niche and have it fall flat on it’s face. This is one area where I don’t mind telling you that if you don’t fail you are probably are not trying hard enough. Finding a good market and a good fit for your business is a bit like fishing – you just have to keep throwing lines in the water until you catch a good one. That being said, it does take time to build up a clientele at a market. Expect to spend two or three seasons at a good, well established, busy market before you really start to get things rolling. The lesson here is not to give up too soon and give it some time to develop. Once you think you have found a winner, apply with zeal! Give them every reason you can think of to bring in your farm as a vendor. Supply references, offer product samples, talk about the environmentally friendly aspects of how you farm. You need to sell yourself well in many cases to get into a well established, highly sought after market. And if you don’t get in the first time, take it with class and keep trying each year. Ask to be placed on a waiting list or as a fill in vendor and don’t give up. Be pleasant and communicate with the Market Master that you understand and are willing to wait until they can work you in. You need to be open to selling at a second tier market until you get your shot at a larger market, but remember that is okay! If a market is that tough to get into, then it’s a place you want to be and is worth waiting on. The post “Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 4” appeared first on Darby Simpson.
  5. Darby Simpson

    Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 3

    Late last year, I kicked off a series on selecting a farmer’s market. In part one I discussed the most pivotal part of any market: The Market Master. In part two I covered how location can play a much larger role than you might think towards the success of a market. While summer markets may seem like they are a long way off, applications for those markets could be due as soon as the end of January! You should be doing your research now to determine which markets you’ll apply to. And while you are thinking about which market to select, the next thing to consider when choosing a market is what time of day and what day of the week it is open. Attending a market for six months or more takes a tremendous amount of energy, do your best to make certain you are not spending that energy in vain and that it is well worth the investment of time and money. Trust me when I tell you that I have tried every type of market possible in terms of variation in the time it was open and the day of week it was open. Again while there are exceptions to any rule, generally speaking your best bang for the buck is going to be to attend a busy market that is open on Saturday morning from 8:00 a.m. until at least 12:00 noon. In my experience markets that are open on weekdays simply do not do very well, but I’m sure there are some out there that are just the opposite. The ones I have attended do okay and when you’re first starting out you may have to do a midweek market in order to get your customer list built up, or in order to increase cash flow for the sake of running your business. You might also not have any other options if all of the Saturday markets are full with vendors in your niche, which is a distinct possibility. If you go and do a midweek market and only earn $300 to $400 that may not sound like much, but over the course of six months you could be looking at $6,000 to $8,000 in income. Long term, that is a drip in the bucket for a full-time farming income but in the short term it is huge. This is exactly how we started out at farmers markets before graduating to Saturday markets! If you have the time and energy to do a midweek market by all means explore that option. But your long-term goal should be to attend two or three prime time markets that are held on Saturday mornings. If you offer a delivery route option to customers during the week, then picking up a mid-week market located in the same general area could be extremely advantageous. Just realize that you’ll be investing an entire day into marketing and that you or someone have to care for the critters back home at some point. Early on, Wednesday was by far my longest day of the week. I would wake up at 4:00 a.m., go out and do animal care then run back in to clean up for market. I would pack my coolers and head out by 7:30 a.m. to be in downtown Indy by 8:15 a.m. I wouldn’t get back home and unpacked until about 3:30 p.m., precisely the time I had to back out and take care of the animals again. By 6:00 p.m. that night I was beat! But alas, the kids need attention and there are e-mails to return, marketing to be done, etc. Choose your battles carefully! If you don’t, you’ll never make it to the finish line. The post Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 3 appeared first on Darby Simpson.
  6. Darby Simpson

    Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 2

    Recently I kicked off a new series on how to find and select a good farmer’s market. In part one of this series, I discussed the Market Master and how they play one of the biggest roles in a markets success, or demise. In part two, we’re going to delve into some logistics to consider when you are out looking for the best market to sell your products at. Back in high school I took a basic entrepreneurial class and one of the main lessons from that course still sticks with me to this day. It was true then and it is true now, and it applies to not only a farmers market, but all other brick and mortar businesses as well. The top three things needed for success at a farmers market are as follows: Location. Location. Location. While there are always exceptions to the rule, by and large and successful market will be located in a busy urban area. It will need to be settled amongst lots of upper middle-class neighborhoods and be located along a busy roadway with great visibility to the public. While I think it is fantastic that many smaller communities are attempting to establish their own farmers markets to promote local food, the reality is (at least in our experience) that you must travel to a large urban area with a large populace in order to make a farmers market worthwhile. What we have found is that nothing can make up for sheer numbers of potential customers walking thru a farmers market. We have also found price not to be an issue at most of the markets we do in larger urban areas, but there are exceptions. Conversely, markets located in outlying towns tend to draw shoppers who are very focused on price. If you continually hear how much cheaper Wal-Mart and Kroger are, you are in the wrong place! Fortunately for us we are located only about 45 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. There are a fair number of larger urban neighborhoods like I have described within Indianapolis that have busy farmers markets to attend. Your nearest large metropolitan area is going to be no different. We are also only about 35 minutes from Bloomington, Indiana which is where Indiana University is located. The Bloomington farmers market is something to behold as it can host up to 110 vendors on a Saturday morning and provides us with a second viable farmers market to attend during the summer months. The final issue to consider when looking at the location of any market is ease of access. You will want to make sure that there is ample free parking for customers to attend any market you participate in. Proximity to customers, ease of access and ample parking or all key things to consider when selecting a market. If there isn’t much parking available, then seek to find out if the market is well attended by those within walking or biking distance. One market in Indy that we do not attend has very little parking and no visibility from the main street nearby. It’s limited to only forty-eight vendors and the logistics are terrible. That said, it’s in a very hip area of Indy and those who live nearby walk and bike to this market in droves. There are no shortage of vendors on the waiting list attempting to get in because it is so busy and well attended. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule but by and large I think our experience will hold true for most markets. The post “Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 2” appeared first on Darby Simpson