Salvador is significantly cutting production costs on his 50-acre vegetable farm with the purchase of a washer and grader to clean and sort harvested produce. With this equipment, which helps decrease labor costs, he expects to save at least $1.00 per box, translating to a savings of at least $10,000 a year on his tomato crop alone. It also lowers costs for packing other vegetables such as butternut squash, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.
Post-harvest handling is one of his largest expenses as several employees are continually needed for the work. “In order to become more profitable in a time when the prices I receive for my products are not increasing, I need to continually be looking for opportunities to cut production costs,” Salvador said. “I have very little control of the price I am paid for my product, however, through practices as what I have proposed, I can impact my production costs and, in turn, my bottom line.”
Salvador primarily markets wholesale through a distribution company in Canton. He also has a roadside stand in Clay County, sets up at the Hayesville Evening Market, and markets through the Clay County Extension Service’s Local Food & Farm Products Directory.
A member of Southern Appalachian Family Farms, Salvador hopes his project provides an educational opportunity for all sizes of farm operations. “Introducing a system such as this in Clay County would demonstrate to other prospective farmers in the area how to overcome such hurdles and be successful with their own ventures,” he said.
Salvador, who has farmed all his life, completed a successful WNC AgOptions project in 2013 to grow his own transplants. The project eliminated his need to travel to Florida to purchase from nurseries, which often times wouldn’t have the varieties he prefers. “The project was very successful, enabling me to save several thousands of dollars,” he said.