Steven Beltram, Balsam Gardens
Expansion of Vegetables, Diversification of Markets, Transition to Certified Organic
Grant Award: $6,000
Steven has expanded Balsam Gardens’ vegetable production in a big way, while also transitioning to USDA Certified Organic to sell to large volume buyers and distributors. Steven has scaled up from 5 to 15 acres. The entire project costs a total of $137,000 for necessary equipment, supplies and plant material.
“By scaling up our operation, we are able to diversify our marketing options and get some of our product into these large-scale grocers,” Steven said. “I believe that expanding our wholesale vegetable operation is the most important thing I can do to ensure financial sustainability for our farm and to support my family.”
“Most of us that are operating organic and sustainable farms in this region are very small market garden type operations that are barely scraping by,” he said. “This is where I have been. However, our success creating a profitable farm is an opportunity to demonstrate that sustainable farming can be desirable for folks that aren’t necessarily committed to all of the ideals of the organic movement as others, but just want to farm well and make money.”
Steven has farmed vegetables since 2008 and raised hogs, broiler chickens and Thanksgiving turkeys since 2011, selling to a 30-member CSA, restaurants and one distributor as well as at weekly farmer’s markets. In 2012, he turned a small profit for the first time.
Steven completed a successful WNC AgOptions project in 2011 to expand his poultry operation to include broilers and Thanksgiving turkeys. “Poultry has become a very important part of our business since being awarded funding for the project,” he said. “I do not believe that we would still be farming if we had not added the poultry venture to our operation, and I do not think that we could have possibly afforded to do it without WNC AgOptions. We are likely still farming because of the opportunity provided by that small amount of grant money.”