Growing for Schools: Crop Production and Planning

March 2, 2023

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This session has held as part of the Community Food Systems track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at

Video Transcript

I also, before we get started, we'd like to thank our sponsors. So Michigan State University Extension and Agri Strategies LLC have generously supported this conference and allowed it to be free of charge. So we really appreciate i.  So at this point, I would love to turn it over to my colleagues, Abbey Palmer, who's a community food systems educator serving the Upper Peninsula, and Ben Phillips, who's vegetable educator serving Southwest Michigan. Thank you so much. Good morning everybody. If you're wondering about this creature, this is my parrot, Rainbow. She loves Zoom meetings. She has been with me for 22 years and so we just do a lot of things together. In today's session, we've got some exciting things planned. First off, I'm going to give a big overview context of what is selling to schools, What are school markets, what is available there? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of school markets? To give you a sense of what it would it be like to sell to a school, then Ben is going to get into what he has termed the unglamorous math behind scaling up for wholesale production. But it's actually quite entertaining math. And Ben is a great presenter. So now I'm going to share my screen and give us that great big overview of selling to school markets. It looks like things are going good. Alright, I'm advancing. So in this section, I'm going to talk about the market channels. The way is the actual avenues by which you can sell to schools. And we want to think about this in two buckets. One bucket is, you can sell to school markets directly. You can have a direct relationship with the school. And another way to think about it is intermediate, meaning you sell your product to a distributor. And then that distributor has the relationship, the direct relationship with the school. According to some data that we have for Michigan, It's couple of years old, but I think it's still good data. Over half of Michigan schools purchase local products, things that are labeled made in Michigan. Most, the great majority of schools purchase from distributors. Those are their main relationships with broad line distributors. Whether it's GFS or whether it's a management food service management company. There's also a significant minority. 14% of schools purchase food from local farms directly. So we see that this is a market where local food can get a toehold and can expand. But that's kinda the current situation. So thinking about this in another way, a little more visually, you, the producer are at the top. And the purple box is direct to school. So collective purchasing through you can join forces with other farmers, But you directly have a relationship with the food service director. Then there are in the blue and green boxes are intermediate market channels where you sell your product to someone else and they handle the paperwork with the school. The first category we're going to dive into here, the direct to school supply chain. It's what most people think of when they hear Farm to School. And it's this relationship that allows you to have a lot of visibility as a farmer, if you would like, for yourself and for your products. So you can become the, you know, the kids in the lunch room think, Oh, you're my farmer, right? And so you can see the sorts of advantages that could have for your business and then the community. And then connecting for children. Where does the food come from? Answering that question is something that you can participate in to whatever level you're comfortable, whether that's visiting the school or inviting kids to the farm. You have some schools even do a thing where they just have pictures of you, the farmer. And your picture is up in the lunch room and they can sort of indicate like, Hey, this is where this product is coming from. The folks should be working with in a direct school situation. I call them food service directors, but they actually have lots of different job titles. You might be working with the School Food Authority, with a food service manager or the procurement manager. These are the folks who do the purchasing and their jobs are amazingly complicated, to be honest. They have a lot of rules that they need to follow in order to meet federal requirements for school lunch. And that might seem intimidating in some ways, but they're also really knowledgeable about how to navigate those rules. And if you have a relationship with a food service director, you develop that over time. You can actually accomplish quite a lot, even as a small farm producing maybe just one or two things that you share with the school. So, to kind of, what is this directed school market? What does this look like? This can look like schools buying from your farmers market stand. Or from a farm stand on your property, they can show up and purchase. You can also contact the school in order to be a CSA drop site. A school could decide, well, we're going to do snacks this way through a CSA box or we would like our staff to have access to a CSA box. I can do a workplace CSA through the school that's not going into the lunch room necessarily, but it's also, it could be a way to start a relationship with the school. Then there's also a farm-raisers or school local food fundraisers that you can do. The Upper Peninsula, we have a program, there are others online as well. Another way that you can have a relationship with the school is that you can have purchase orders, you can have a contract with the school. And that I would say if we're looking at this list, it graduates in terms of commitment and difficulty, starting off at the top of the list, might be a good way to start relationships with schools in order to move down toward having an established, ongoing, stable market to a contract or a purchase order. So thinking about some of the potential benefits of Farm to School and selling to schools. Yes. You can have that direct relationship. I've already mentioned it, but I really think that the retaining and growing your brand and business is one of the main advantages. It also can start out small, right? If you're thinking, wow, a school with hundreds of students, How am I ever going to satisfy that? There are different levels of ways that you can get involved with different sizes of schools and programs. So you can start with just one product if you want. And when you think about some of the potential drawbacks of selling to schools, there's a little bit more record-keeping involved, maybe depending on how you already keep your records. Determining a fair price can be complex. And I say that because school food service directors have an incredibly limited budget per meal, I think it's still under $2, is what they have to work with. Now there is a program I'm going to tell you about in a second that can help with that situation. But you want to look out for your business and get a fair price for your product. Because otherwise it's not going to be worth it to you. But at the same time, the food service directors are operating under some limitations about how much money they can spend. So this is the part where I talked about $0.10 a meal, $0.10 a meal for Michigan's kids and farms is a state program. Michigan has done a lot of great work and connecting local food and local farmers to schools were actually a model for other states. And you can see these are all the different schools in Michigan that have access to this funding, this grant funding. These are the schools that have utilized $0.10 a meal. What $0.10 a meal is, is it gives food service directors additional funding to purchase Michigan products. So when we're saying it's hard to negotiate a fair price, $0.10 a meal is a statewide program that is intended to help with that situation. And yeah, you can scan the QR code with your phone. It looks like Mariel dropped the link in the chat. This is a really cool program and it's been expanding and expanding ever since. It started a few years ago. So coming out of the direct to school markets, I'm going to breeze through some of those intermediated  market channels. What does that mean? An intermediated market channel could be a food hub. Meaning it's a place where food is aggregated and then goes out from there. It could be a local retail outlet, like a grocery store or a food co-op. They're also value-added processors that would potentially take your product, freeze it, can it, etcetera. And then it would be available to schools through there. And there's also distributors that are independent locally and regionally. And this is a sort of a statewide audience. So there's varying levels of access to these different outlets. But if you have questions about it, we are more than happy to help connect you with someone in your area or determine if there is something like this available in your area. Food hubs, there's about 12 of them active in Michigan. And it's funny, they say When you've met one food hub, you've met one food hub? They do a wide variety of different things, but one of the main things they do is help with aggregating and marketing local food. And so if you'd like to learn more about whether or not there's a food hub in your area that might have a relationship with the school. You can check out the website here and I'll drop that in the chat later. So here's an example of a, of a regional distributor and there are a few throughout Michigan. One that I'm a little bit more familiar with is Cherry Capital Foods. And again, this is something that we can take questions about and try to connect you with what might be available in your area. We're thinking in larger quantities when we get up to the distribution and the regional distributor level, right? There are also national wholesale distribution channels, which can be private companies like GFS or can also be USDA food distribution programs and food boxes. So again, this is a potentially larger quantity, but I've seen some really innovative things happening with some of the USDA food boxes in rural areas as well. So you never know what's out there until you start looking and start asking. I think that the main takeaway here is that you want to choose the market channel mix that is best for your farm based on your size, what you feel you can promise because schools are a relatively stable market, right? Then consistency is part of the expectation. Can be, especially if you have a purchasing contract. So I'm going to stop sharing now. And I'm going to turn it over to Ben with this sort of to bear in mind. Okay, So these are the markets, these are the market opportunities for selling to schools. But you might be wondering, how do I meet the quantity, how do I meet the consistency? I'm going to talk about strategies for crop planning to scale up for wholesale markets. Thanks. All right, thanks Abbey. Okay. So I have a presentation. It's it's math-y. And I was always a person who struggled with math. Teaching math is even scarier, but I've, I've tried to put it together in a way that is light and with some practical, practical examples for how you can plan for meeting certain demands that may be coming from a school if you want to tap into that market. The same kind of math can apply for any sort of foreign planning. Now, not just meeting a market for, for school system, goal without a plan is just a wish. This is where the math comes in. There's a lot of factors that go into making a plan for your crop. Some of you have a lot of experience already doing this. You may do it differently. So what I teach you today might just grate against you in the most uncomfortable way because you've got a way of doing things and this is not that way. Some of you may find this helpful. And it takes from a concept I learned in chemistry class in high school called canceling units. So we're gonna go through a canceling unit exercise. The variables that you use for going through this exercise will come with different qualities. Alright? Once you gain more experience, you'll have an idea, a better idea of things. You know, how many pounds per plant can I get off a tomato? Typically, that's very hard information to find on the internet. Some other people you can ask would be fellow growers. Getting it down to the number of pounds per week is also very difficult. You will find that published in many places because something like tomatoes starts with a lower yield and then it gets higher and then it gets lowered again, it tapers on either end. Planning for a weekly quantity of something like that can be a little difficult. But you have to start somewhere and you got to put in some numbers to get the ball rolling. Most of it's just algebra. You're trying to solve for x. You have other variables you're trying to solve for a mystery one, but it gets all confused because most of these things are rates, but something per something, something per something that can make it a little tougher. And there's a lot of conversions involved as well. So we're going to start with a non vegetable example. Beer. We're gonna talk about beer for a little bit here. You've just found 600 bucks, alright, and a six pack cost $10. How many beers can you buy? How many individual beer is can you buy with that 600 bucks? If you can solve this problem, then you can figure out how much seed you need. for an order. Here's the beer equation. This is the basis of canceling units here that I'm going to use throughout the rest of the presentation. So you have $600. And when we speak these words, that's the way we tend to say it. You have $600. But that's actually a rate that $600 per you. For everyone of  you, there's $600. And we write that with a little little division sign. Basically, you put the dollar on top, the you on the bottom. There's one of you, dollars per one you, okay, this is important. The next thing, let me go to the end here. It can help to start from the end because what you want to know when the end is the number of beers per you. How many beers can you have? That's a rate total beers per you. And we can write it this way for the sake of this math. This is helpful because by writing it this way, you can figure out whether you need to, where you need to place the other variables. So we want you on the bottom at the end, and we have beers on top at the end. So let's work backwards from there. We know we have dollars per you, so yous on the bottom here. That's great. We also want beers on top, so we need the next unit here. Beers per dollar. For dollar per beer. You can flip it depending on what you need. You can flip it as long as you keep them in the same vertical axis, you can flip them. Okay, so we want beer on top, you on bottom. Guess what happens now? If there's any other conversions, you can add them here. What happens now is you can just go straight to the example with the values. If you have $600 per one you, you have one siz pack per $10. Here's another conversion. There are six beers and every one 6-pack. How many beers you end up with? What happens are these dollar units cancel because they're on top and bottom of the line. The dollar cancel, also six-pack cancels because they're on the top and the bottom of the line. What remains is beers and you so what you do now is you multiply everything that's on the top of the line, 600 times one times six. That gives you 300. Oh sorry. 600 times one times six. Let's see. 600 times one times six. That's $3,600. 3600 we don't have a unit on that yet. And then the bottom is one times ten times one, or 10 so 3600. Then last step is to divide it. The top line from the bottom line, 3600/10 is 360. So you get 360 beers for every one of you. Alright, that's canceling units. We can take this in any direction you need. So let's say this party that you spent that money on and you got 360 beers for it. At that party, you had 25 people and they all drink three beers each. So you only had only 75 beers were consumed. So 360 was too many beers for this party. It keeps you can you can leave that out over time for sure. But maybe you didn't maybe you wanted to spend on something other than beer. So how much money could you have spent knowing this ahead of time? If you knew the amount of beer people were going to drink, how could you have spent that money differently? We can set up the same sort of arrangement. We're going to start at the end. We want to know dollars per party. That's what we want in the end. We want dollar on top and a party on bottom. So let's go all the way over to the beginning here. Let's start with the number of beers that were consumed at the party. So 75 beers per party. Alright, we got Party on bottom. Nice, That's where we want it. We want to keep it there. We want to cancel beers somehow because we don't want beers in the end. So let's see here we can cancel beers with this, with this conversion here, One six pack is six beers. Okay, So beers are going to cancel here. Alright, and we know that there's $10 per six pack. So now we've got the six pack to cancel. We're left with dollars on top, party on bottom. The beers cancel, the six packs, cancel. Multiply everything on the top. So you end up with 750 on top. Divide that by six because one times six times one is six. And you're left with $125 per party. That's what that's what the real cost was. You didn't have to spend all 360. So that's how you go about this canceling units idea. And if you can figure that out, it's pretty much like buying vegetable seed, the targeted market and planning for yield or area for a crop. There's a lot of different questions that come in to planning a vegetable crop. How many plants are going to fit into a certain area? How much area do plants need? If you're going to start with plants that you're getting transplants from a transplant house. You got to figure out, okay, well, what's this going to translate to in a field scale? It's the same question but in a different direction. How many trays do you think you're going to need if you're gonna do your own transplants, how much space will the trays need? How much seed are you going to need to accomplish all this. How many, how much will one plant produce and then how many for every plant that you may have. And then finally, some of the time-related questions are, how much are you going to get per week? How long will harvest take and when do you plant? You can do all of this with information that you can find from seed companies and from each other and from your own experience. So here's an example. We're going to dive into a real example. Sorry, the chats been flying and I haven't been paying attention to it. Oh, okay. Sorry, Sandy. Yeah, you got it right. Doesn't see the chat. Okay. I'm going to keep the chat open so I can see when things come in. Alright, so let's say there's a school that you're aware of that has gotten the grant. So they got a machine. They can cut they can cut carrots to make sticks. And they're really excited about it. So they want to, they want to support the local growers and they want to buy carrots from around the area that they can run through this machine. It's for their salad bar and they want 1,500 pounds per year of carrots for this machine. And they're thinking this is gonna go like in a salad bar type thing. So they also want cherry tomatoes. They don't have to cut at all. They just want tomatoes. They just want the cherry tomatoes. They can just pop them in their mouth. They put them in a little tray. And that's what they want. They want about they think they're going to need 1,500 pounds a year. Now that's great to start with. Alright, but I think as a grower, you're going to have to, you're going to have to strategize further, right? So let's let's figure out how much does that mean per week. The average school year is about 25 weeks. Both of these crops, they're looking for 1,500 pounds. So let's just do one equation here. So 1,500 pounds divided by 25 weeks is about 60 pounds per week for both carrots and cherry tomatoes. That's what they're really looking for. You can grow these things differently. Carrots are carrots are the kind of thing where you could plant them sequentially and then harvest them sequentially throughout the winter. That's one way to do things. You can also plant carrots in at one, onetime, targeting one harvest, and then store them if you have the ability to store. So if you have a refrigerator room or crates that you can put them in and keep them cool and keep them humid. That's another way to go and that's the way, that's the example I'm gonna go with for these carrots. Yeah, like a root cellar, Abbey, thanks. Tomatoes, on the other hand, for hitting a school market is a little tougher where we are in Michigan. That's going to require some artificial light, artificial heat. But it can be done, it is done. You'll have to decide whether it's going to pay or not. But for the sake of this example, we're going to assume you're all geared up and ready to grow cherry tomatoes straight through the winter. Let's do carrots first because I think it's a lot easier. So here we are. We've got the equation all set up for canceling some units. We need to know how much area this is going to take for us to do 1,500 pounds of carrots one harvest. And we don't know how much they yield, but we looked up some information and we figured out that you can expect about 30,000 pounds per acre on a good carrot field. And that's average. There could be higher, it could be lower. So that's something we can start with for planning. So let's, let's start at the end here we want to know how many square foot per planting we're going to need. And it's just gonna be one planting. So we want square feet on top and planting on the bottom at the end. Now. Okay, So let's go, let's go to an area where we've got planting on bottom. So we've got 1,500 pounds per planting. That's great. We have 1,500 on top, planting on bottom. Let's find a way to cancel pounds. We know that we get 30,000 pounds per acre. So you just flip it so that pounds is on bottom, acres on top. You don't want acre in the end either. We want square feet, so we need to do the conversion, square feet per acre. So now we've got acre canceled, we've got square feet on top, planting on bottom. You multiply everything across the top. So that'd be one times 1,500. It's gonna be a big number. Huge number, I'm not even going to bother reading it. We divide that by 30,000 because 30,000 times one times one. And we're left with about 2,173 or 70 sq feet. Got it. Did somebody have a question? Okay. This is what we'll need to get 1,500 pounds of carrots. Now let's say the way we do territories on beds and we do like four or three rows per bed. That's just the way we're set up to do it. So how many beds is this is going to be in the field? Our beds are 2 ft wide and 1,000 ft long. So if we know, we want to end up with how many beds for planting in the end, we know that we need 2,173 sq ft in one planting. We want to get this, we want to get the square feet to cancel. So we just have bed on top planting on bottom. So we know that one bed is 2 ft times 1,000 ft, that ends up being square feet, right? And that equates to almost one bed per planting. And that's good enough for this math. One bed for planting is what this is going to take to hit this one market for this one school. Knowing that, how much seed is that can be. Once again, we're going to use some of the, we're going to use one variable that we already used, which is the area of our beds, to end up with how many seed packs per bed. For the sake of this example, we're going to assume that one seed pack is 200 seeds. We want seed packs on top and bed on bottom at the end of this equation. So let's go back here. Let's make sure we can get bed on bottom. Let's start with the dimensions of the bed. We've got 2 ft times 1,000 ft per bed. Beds on bottom, feets on top. We want to get feet to cancel. So what is the spacing for a carrot seed? According to the seed packet, we should be going 8 inches between rows, 4 inches in rows. Let's convert that to feet. Put that on bottom. So 0.67 times 0.33 per one seed for every seed, that's the spacing they get. And you just flip it so that square roots on bottom so that they cancel. And we don't want seed in the end either. We want to seed packs. So the last piece here is the conversion for the number of seeds per seed pack, seeds on the bottom, seed pack on top. So what we do now we do two times 1,000 times one times one on top, so 2000 and on the bottom we do 0.67 times 0.33 times 200. It's about 44.22. We do 2000  divided by 44.22 and we're left with about 45 seed packs. That's how much, that's how many seed packs that have 200 seeds in them we'll need. Maybe you don't want that many seed packs. In that case, you order a higher quantity bag of seed. That's no problem. So I think the last piece here then is how many beds are we planting? We already know we're just planting one bed, so this part's easy. So on a per bed basis it's 45 seed packs per bed. We're only planting one bed, so it's 45 times 1. 45 seed packs per planting. Alright, we figured out the carrot one. Oh shoot, we didn't get all the way there. When do you plant these dang things. That's the last piece. I like to use for the sake of doing math with dates. I like Julian dates. Does anybody here use Julian dates? Unless you're using a spreadsheet, it's kinda hard to do August 31st minus July 20th. It's just like really hard to figure that out because the number of days per month changes So Eric says he uses them all the time. Some calendars some calendars have them right on them. Well, I've got a calendar that's got the Julian date right  at the top corner. And it has the Julian date of the current date. And it even has the week number too, which is really, really handy for doing this quick math. Thanks Abbey for sharing that. So we're going to convert dates to Julian dates for the sake of doing some easy subtraction here. Let's assume school starts August 31st. And so what you want and thanks for the explanation, Abbey. Julian, date is it's just one through 365. So January 1 is day one. December 31st is 365, and that works for most years, except leap here. So if we assume August 31st is the first week of school and they want their first delivery of carrots and cherry tomatoes. Then, then we've got to plan on having a harvest in by that date. So that's actually day 243 of the year. Now we look at our seed packs, we see that these carrots have a days to maturity of something like 63 days. But we know, we know because we've grown carrots a lot of times that the days to maturity of carrots is always grossly underestimated. I don't know if it has to do with our latitude or what. A 60 day carrot is easily a 90 day carrot for a nice big carrot. So they want nice big carrots because they're chopping these suckers up with their chopping  machine. We're going to plan for about 90 days to maturity on these carrots. So you take August 31st, which is day 243, subtract 90 days from that. And these are direct seeded, so there's no transplant time to worry about. That equates to day 148, which is May 28th. That's when we have to plant these carrots to hit this market. So we've planned for hitting our target for carrots. Now, we're going to try to do some tomatoes. I jumped the gun again. I already told you in the beginning of this little bit that this example assumed one harvest, bulk harvest for storage like something like this, where you've got crates, you put dirty carrots in them, you keep them refrigerated. You could also, I've seen people make piles of carrots that they then encase in soil and then tarp them. Or put them under like an awning of some sort to keep the sun off. There's a few ways that you can do it. As I said, there's also another way to do it as well where you can stagger plant, you plant every week or so, and then you harvest every week. Later on in the season. You can even do it without staggered planting. If it gets cold enough in the fall, then the carrots can shut down. They're not going to grow anymore and they'll they'll hold fairly well in the ground is as long as the ground doesn't freeze, you can harvest them straight out of the field on a weekly basis up until December. And then it tends to get a little, a little dicey. Parsnips you can keep going with, but carrots are a little tougher to do that with. So there's a few options, other considerations for how to accomplish this. You could also bag them, keep them very humid. The shelf-life is less on this if you clean them and bag them and then store them, they, their shelf life is reduced. So that's good if you've got markets already lined up, but you know, you can move them. But, but otherwise the longest keeping, the longest way to keep carrots is keeping them dirty. Abbey, you're like the best Zoom partner putting in all this stuff on the side. Thank you for doing that. Alright, let's go to the tomato piece now, we're gonna go through almost the exact same process here. First we're going to try to figure out how much area we need to hit 1,500 pounds total yield. And we're trying to figure out how many, how many, what's the yield of a tomato, of a cherry tomato plant? And going through some various resources, you find that a few different resources sort of agree that you could expect about 70 pounds for every ten plants. Okay? So we can work with that. We can work with that. In the end we want, oh and as you learn more, if you grow, if you grow cherry tomatoes more or if you already have and you've been taken this data down, you can put that into here. Instead of this number you find on the internet, it will probably apply a lot better. It's all about the quality of the data that you use to start this stuff. This is good enough for now. So we have, we want to start, we want to get 2 sq ft for planting, planting on bottom square feet on the top. So let's see here, let's go with the planting one first, let's make sure we get planting on bottom. So 1,500 pounds times one, or 1,500 pounds per one planting, plantings on bottom, we want to cancel out the pound. So let's take that 70 pounds per ten plants bit there and then switch it. Pounds is on the bottom and plants is on top. So 10/70 in this case we get pounds to cancel. Now we want to cancel plans. So what we know now, what we know is that we want to put the plants 2 ft apart in the row and 4 ft apart between rows for this example. So that's the space per plant that we're gonna be working with that cancels plants. And we've got square feet on top. Okay. So we do ten. I'll get to your question in a second, Sandy. Unless Abbey can handle it too. Ten times 1,500 times two times four. Alright, that's like 120,000 and divide that by 70.  You get 1,714 sq ft per planting. Okay. Alright. Now the question from Sandy is, is the is the assumed square foot to estimating food pound quantities? I don't know if I understand that question. I think I think Sandy and Meghan are asking the same question. I could be wrong, but I think they are saying, is there a chart that has lists where we can say, okay, what is our yield per plant or what does our yield per square foot for each variety? You know, what's turnips, what's snow peas, that kinda thing. And I actually don't know if that list, but if you mentioned it, I can go find a link. At the end of this presentation, I'm going to share a couple of resources that will help. A safety factor. No. I don't put, this does not include the safety factor for these calculations. As an experienced grower, I'm glad that you recognize that. Not everything goes according to plan. Okay, so we've got the planting area. Now we want to figure out how many beds this is going to be. In this scenario, we're using a heated space. So it's small and we know how many beds we can fit in it. We want the beds to be 4 ft apart and they're gonna be 100 ft long. So we want to end up with beds per planting. We know the square foot for planting already from the last equation. So we want to cancel square feet. One bed is four by 100. So we're going to end up with 1714 divided by 400 and that gives us four and a quarter beds. in a hoop house. And you may want to do more than that, because if your hoop house can handle six rows and you're gonna be hitting the whole thing anyway, maybe just plant the whole thing. But this is how much it'll take to meet that particular market. And as Sandy said, if things fail, if things don't go according to plan, you can have some overage and that's always nice to have. So how much seed are you going to need for this? At the end of this equation, we want to know how many seed packs per bed. Let's make sure beds on bottom. We'll put four by 100 per bed over here on the end. We're going to want to cancel the square foot, so we got to figure out the footage per plant. So for every seed or plant, there's gonna be two-by-four according to this little diagram here, I'm gonna assume 50 inches is 4 ft. Then we want to get the seeds to cancel. We're going to assume one seed pack is 50 seeds. So four times 100 times one times 1400 on top. Then one times eight times 50. You're going to have 400 on bottom, well that's a one-to-one ratio. So once seed pack per bed. And if you're going to want to overseed as as Sandy and Eric and Abbey are talking about, then you can increase this by a percentage factor if you would like, if you want to overseed so that you make sure that there's, you account for some loss and some seeds not doing well, then you can factor that in at this point. Since we're doing 4.25 beds, we're going to need more than just one seed pack. We're going to take the ratio. We already came up with one seed pack per bed. When I multiply that by 4.2 beds per planting, the beds units cancel. I didn't cross it out down here, but they cancel. And then you end up with 4.25 seed packs per bed, assuming $0.50 per pack. Some good chat in the chat there about seed ratios. Thanks for sharing everybody. Now the thing about tomatoes is that you're not gonna be direct seeding them in the field. You don't typically do that even in the summertime. And you may as well do it planning for a winter harvest to you, you end up with a better seed control that way instead of direct seeding. So you're going to need to put some trays out. You're going have to start some in trays. So there's another factor here. We're going to figure out how many trays and how much space that these trays need. So we want to end up with trays for planting on the end. So we wanna make sure plantings on the bottom. We know we want 4.25 seed packs per planting. That puts the planting on the bottom for us. We've got to find a way to cancel seed packs. We know that there's 50 seed per seed pack that'll cancel the seed pack. We need to cancel seeds. Now. One tray, that's a 72 cell tray. Let's say that's gonna be about 72 seeds, right? Unless you plant over like what they're talking about in the chat, if you want to do 10% more, you want to double that, put two seeds per hole, then you're going to have more than 72 seeds per tray. But this is another place you can factor that in. You do 4.25 times 50 times one on top, which is 212.5. And you divide that by one times one times 72. And you get about three, about three trays for planting. So how much space is that going to take if we have three trays? Well, each tray, it doesn't matter really about the site unless you're doing something special like like the Japanese tape planter, Those are a different dimension, but most standard trays or 11 by 21, whether that has 72 cells all the way up to like 288, It's gonna be the same dimensions. So let's assume that 11 by 21, That's what we're going to work with. Three, we're going to end up with square inches per plant. And because we want to know how much table space we need. So we'll put trays on top, planting on bottom. We want to cancel trays. So we put the dimensions per tray here in this arrangement. So trays cancel.  three times 11 times 21 divided by 1. 693 square inches. So that's much table space you're going to need. Last piece here is when do you plant? So we're gonna use the same example of August 31st, which is day 243. We're going to have to add something extra here because we're starting transplants. So if the seed pack says it's a 58 data maturity crop that assumes by and large every seed company I'm aware of reports days to maturity of tomatoes for the date of transplanting to harvest. So that doesn't include the number of weeks behind it between seed and transplanting. So you have to factor that in. So if you assume 58 days to maturity at transplanting, you have to add an additional 42 days or so for the time when it's in the trays. So what that will tell you is that on day 143 is when you need the seed, the trays, which is May 23rd. And then after 42 days pass, you would transplant on July 4th, according to this example, which is what it's like to farm some times. So that's how you figure out the timing on the tomatoes. So there's a lot of other considerations with this tomato business. Like I said before, with tomatoes in particular, it's a multi-pick crop in, as the plant grows and commit more resources to growing fruit, the yield starts small and then it gets bigger and then it gets lower again. If you want to make these plants last across 25 weeks, you have to account for low yields in the beginning and low yields and the end. And that may, that may cause you to think twice about the space you're committing. Maybe you should do more plants. So that in those ends you have more plants that are producing at any point in time. Another thing you could consider doing a staggered planting, two separate plantings. So one is peaking in the beginning and one is peaking in the end and they meet in the middle around around middle yield for both of them? Yeah. Like Sandy said, succession planting. Yep. Also because this example assumes you're doing some artificial lighting and heating, you're going to have to really do some cost analysis on if this is going to pay. Like I said, this is just an example. I tried to use examples that schools are looking for. For the sake of ease of serving. Tomatoes is one of the big ones. The cherry tomatoes is one of the big ones. Apple's is another big one, right? Because kids just munch, right on them. Carrots too. Does greenhouse tomatoes make sense for the vast majority of growers? No. That's, that's up to you to figure out. I will say this though if you do do it, I think a hydroponic option is a little better because you can, you can maintain this, can maintain the temperature of the growing substrate a little better with hydroponics then you can within soil, because the soil is a lot harder to heat, it'll just suck it all right up. And if it's super cold, the soil is going to be cold. Tomatoes don't really like a cold feet. So a hydroponic option where they're raised up a little easier to heat because you can then the containers that they're in will absorb heat from the air around it that you are heating. You could also even look into options for heating the water you're  irrigating with. So these are some things to consider. You're also going to have to really bone up on trellising if you want to make it for the whole 25 weeks on one planting, that's a serious plant. That's a long, That's a long plant. And you're going to have to prune it, then all the light to keep it really productive. At this point. This can apply to carrots and tomatoes. You're going to have to talk to the school about how they want these things delivered. How do they want them packaged? Do they want clamshells on everything? That would be ridiculous. I think. Can you just give them boxes, bulk boxes, just volume fill. That would be ace. That'd be real great. Those are things you've got to work out. Only two more slides and then we can discuss things. In summary, you want to get used to conversions, get used to the different containers that you're using. I'm going to share on the next slide some places you can go to find yield information. It's often reported in really weird ways, in ways you don't encounter very often things like 100 weight, which is CWT or tons, or sometimes in bushels. But a bushel for a cucumber is different than a bushel for carrots. That's a different value. I think cucumbers is like 48 pounds. I don't remember what carrots is. Sometimes carrots are reported in masters. So it takes a lot of figuring out how to get down to just straight pounds on everything. And it's helpful to make language common across your operations so that people are speaking the same words and meaning the same thing. We already talked about Julian dates. And then I would encourage you to take some of what we've talked about today in automated, put it in a spreadsheet, get to learn equations so that you don't have to do this math every time. But this math, I think the unit cancellation idea is helpful for doing some things on the fly. But if you want to really make an operation out of this, an Excel spreadsheets  is your friend. There's also some apps that'll do the same thing, but then they take the math away from you. I think it's powerful to have the math in your hands. So there's a couple of resources here that don't really get into the math, but they're helpful. One is called scaling up your vegetable farm for wholesale markets. And I don't have that link handy. Unfortunately. I wonder if I can get there somehow. And another one about understanding how a day length effects harvest time, which is important for the winter markets. I'm going to open these real quick to see if I can pop the links into the chat. Yeah. Okay, so this one is a video from Curtis Stone. And then we have on the left, we have and this next one, We got the John one Yeah. Okay, cool. Then the last part here. These are this resource here, The Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers is the best book ever. I'm not just walking away, I'm finding the book. I didn't just abandon you. I just wanted to show you the book. It's a big old boy. And it's not the, it's not the juiciest read. It's almost entirely It's like almost all tables. It's just tables and, and tables and tables and tables and tables about everything you can imagine related to vegetables. And for this volume, which I have here is the fifth edition, I put the actual page numbers. You can find a PDF of this. I don't remember where. I only found it once, but if you Google enough, you will find it. I give, I give it to my students. For a class that I teach, I give them the PDF version. I'd have to look to dig it up. But these are the page numbers that you can find some of these variables in. So like seed, seed rates for different acreages in different sizes of seed, vegetable spacings. Approximate yields down here, which is, somebody had a question about yields. This is, its got it in 100 weight per acre. So you'd have to do a conversion to figure out what that is in pounds. It's pretty easy to just 100 pounds. And then there's another resource here, the Hoop house Production and Marketing Guide, which came out of Michigan State University. Just really slick. And it has a lot of information about packaging and yields of crops you can grow in a hoop house, including some non-traditional ones, like root crops and stuff. And some tips on marketing them and packaging them and even prices to ask for. There's one other one that I'll show you real quick here. This is an old bulletin for MSU. It's going to be showing up backwards for you, but it's titled Yields of Michigan Vegetable Crops. And it basically does some of the same things that these other resources do, except it's only like four pages long, so it's a little easier. It's just a big table that talks about low, good, and excellent yields for different crops. Its measured in tons per acre. And then it has a separate table that describes the most common packages for these crops and the amount of pounds that those packages weigh. This is a, this is the bulletins called E1565. So one of the things based on what you all said about your growing areas, and we have a range of everybody up from a half an acre to multiple acreage. You might be thinking, wow, How could this really worked for me? And I would say, if you're looking to scale up for school markets, you can go slow. You can develop those relationships with your food service director. And you can also think about scaling all this math way back. Maybe you want to choose one product that you want to try as a snack. You start working with the food service director. You have a meeting with them and you're like, Well, before you commit to ordering a bunch of purple carrots, Do you want to do a trial? And we do a taste test in the cafeteria and we see if kids like it. Because that might be one of the things that food service director is concerned about is they call it palatability or acceptance? Are the kids going to accept this? So that is a really much smaller scale way to start getting involved with schools. You bring one snack, one time and see how it goes. So small steps. I'd like to put in one more plug for contact us if you have questions. Mariel and I are part of something called the Michigan Farm to Institution Network. So it's a big part of our jobs to help connect growers with institutional markets. And we have somebody in the state who knows your area and can help you answer questions and get started. So, want to really send appreciation to Ben and Abbey for joining us this morning and sharing all this insightful information for making math fun. I was actually doing, figuring it out all those equations. So I hope that everyone found something useful today and really appreciate everyone's time for joining us. Thanks again.