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You’re Such a Niche!

September 12, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently on #agchat non-food agriculture was the topic. Yes we’re a niche. Some folks seem to think it’s bad, it’s expensive, it somehow takes away from more popular products in agriculture. Others just accept it as a choice, an option, another part of agriculture. Some want to insult – I’m such a niche!

And that’s ok. I don’t have room or finances for thousands of acres of corn or thousands of head of cattle. I don’t have to pretend to be what I’m not…because I’m a niche. A specialized market, a smaller part of agriculture that won’t overtake beef or corn, nor do I want to. Because I’m a niche I can be happy with what I *can* do. I can embrace the niches!

Among them – angora! It won’t replace cotton for things that cotton is good for. It won’t replace wool for carpeting and house fixtures. But it’s oh so soft and “lightens” a wool fleece. It has fibers that do something that cotton and wool can’t – and it’s a niche. If you’ve ever kept angora rabbits you’d understand why it’s a niche – and not complain about the price of angora items!

Then there’s the niche of birdhouse gourds. Not everyone needs or wants them – but for those who do, we have grown some every year (sometimes self sown!).

There’s the niche of feather arts – handmade artwork of any kind is a niche all its own, but many buy the feathers. We use feathers from our own chickens, ducks, turkeys and even the pet macaw! Use everything…a niche! It’s also a way to use fur from the fryer rabbits we use for meat.

Another niche – compost. We provided compost this year to home gardeners, greenhouse and a blackberry farm. It’s not something we have a lot of although there is an ongoing supply! Along with the compost – worms. Yes big, beautiful earthworms that help gardeners improve their soil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother agriculture niche is homemade soaps. I don’t have a milk source right now to do these, but it may be coming in 2015! There’s only so much time in the day and – say it with me now – I’m such a niche!

In many ways the meat rabbits are a niche – a small section of the meat market in comparison to beef and pork and chicken. Outdoor poultry is a niche. Herbs are a niche. Next year we’ll branch into berries – another niche.

I’m sorry for those who think these things are somehow against other parts of agriculture, or aren’t supportive of ‘commercial agriculture.’ I don’t think I’ve said such a thing. But then again, being such a niche I watch what I’m doing more than what others are doing. From specialty cheeses and independent label beer and wine – it’s all niches!

It all relies on agriculture. I think we’d all be less satisfied if not having the choices it brings, but many would not even know about it because we don’t matter. If someone wants to run 30,000 cattle or chickens or other things great for them! Not everyone can do what we do either.

That’s what makes us an agriculture niche. I’ll wear that title. Niches are never so independent to not need and engage others. Niches are just one piece and have to reach out to get noticed.

We even do clinics…and teach others things that can empower them…because I’m a niche. But you know what I find funny? With sharing what we do, how and why – I’ve noticed a funny thing. Some of those big ‘too important’ for little places folks try to connect and share…just like niches. We all have a story, and all sizes and types of agriculture are needed to provide the diverse points of agriculture.

We don’t have to pretend to be small and personal. I’m a niche…it’s what I do. Thanks for understanding.

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