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How Much Transparency is Too Much?

April 10, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThrough the blog, social media forums and direct questions we strive to be transparent about how we do what we do. Every once in a while we see a hot discussion and I wonder how much is too much? It seems, overall, that it’s personal. In short – what one may think is too much others think is not enough.

If we actually ran the numbers and had a market selling out for everything we do right now do you know what would be our #1 sale item? I don’t have to think too long about it because it’s an ongoing issue! Rabbit manure. It’s one of the best manures for the garden, and there’s a plentiful supply whether or not bunnies are born.

Now do you want an in depth assessment of how many times a week we deal with rabbit manure? Do you want the details of the NPK levels for your garden? If you’re coming to get rabbit meat do you care anything about the manure at all? Each of these questions will likely get different answers from any 100 people polled.

Like any other operation, we want to put our best foot forward. If some people were to see a foot of manure under a row of cages, one would think it’s horrible and unclean, while someone else would ponder if there’s a worm bed there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne group might think 100 cows is a small farm while another sees it as a ‘factory farm’ – perceptions are many. Without talking about it, we don’t have a chance to say anything. Those cows ankle deep in mud might be after cleaning, might be in a flood zone or might be a case of neglect – without context we don’t know.

Most farmers don’t show our trash pile, or junk area (you know those scraps of things that we might need someday!) or, yes, manure piles and yet we all deal with it. Is that hiding something? Transparent, even if some think it’s wrong?

We’ve shared our fundraising trials and other experiments. We’ve shared the wins and the losses, the depressing times and the good times. That isn’t done to be “more transparent” than our farmer friends – it’s just *us* and what *I* think allows our customers and our fans to see what we do and, hopefully, leave the door open for questions and conversation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we undergo a community effort for expansion, we again discuss the “M” word – money.  We hope our fans, friends and readers will go check it out of course (and maybe even join us for a clinic or haycation!). But if you’re signed up on a farm share, perhaps you don’t really want to know details, or perhaps you’re further away and do (which is why we created Moove Over Farmville as a means to share).

More than any time in the past, those who do want to know can find out answers direct from farmers. Whether your concerns are livestock issues or organic crops or GMO…or any number of other things, please ask those involved in it. If you disagree or don’t like the answers, well that’s certainly your choice. Giving the benefit of an honest conversation is good.

If you don’t know where to go, ask us here. If we don’t know I can almost guarantee I know someone who can answer, be it popcorn farmers, seed salesmen, orchard owners, organic dairy or a host of other good folks that I would trust to tell the truth, even if you disagree (respectfully) with them or their experience.

Without that conversation, we all lose. Too often it’s not a lack of transparency but a lack of understanding. Pictures alone don’t tell everything. Ask us.

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