Skip to main content

Man in Overalls - Woo hoo! $100K in revenue! Thank you

Thank you! Team Overalls just grew past $100k in annual revenue!
We're on track to 2x the highest top-line # we've ever made! It's not all about the money, but it's worth taking a pause to celebrate and to offer thanks in recognition of this threshold of success because it notes a potential that, in all honesty, I never considered these humble Overalls held.
Here’s to a great cloud of supporters & encouragers, co-workers, customers, & collaborators. First up a word of thanks to my team: Valerie Herrmann & Don Justice who have joined me in the work of helping others grow their groceries; also here's to Cecil DiChiara, who has been my right-hand-apprentice growing the seeds of our Overalls Farm in my own backyard. These 3 have had my back, shoveled my shovel, & brought their sharp minds to the Overalls table. If you haven't already, you'll likely meet them in the months to come.
We are also indebted, gratefully, to our customers. From our turnkey food garden support & magic mix customers to the many workshop participants to our farm members who are, quite literally, helping us harvest our way towards an Overalls Cafe/Market/Farm vision. Also thanks to the 100s of Tallahassee customers who sustained me while I was a babe in the biz and focused the lion share of my energy on building TFN and developing iGrow. And while I'm on the subject of Tallahassee, there were also several other Overalls-clad co-workers not to mention hundreds upon hundreds of people who worked-it behind the scenes to help ensure my success. Thank you.
I am also grateful to the many co-workers in the movement who are working to regrow the food system so that it works for everyone. It takes many hands, minds, capacities, connections, & ideas to grow where we're growing. Thanks for enriching my life and helping us grow their a little better/faster by contributing your piece.
Keep up the good work! And thank you again! Here's to a million!
- - -
And lest I write you without offering something helpful, I wanted to point you again to my resources page. If you haven'ted visited in a while, here are a few new resources I developed in the past year:
    Also on my resources page are more than a dozen of the videos that I did with the Department of Agriculture. Here are a few of my favorites:
    To celebrate our financial win and to raise a bit of money to ramp up our capacity to help folks grow their groceries, we're going to launch a little blitz sale/fundraiser shortly. Stay tuned, and shoot me a reply if you'd like to help craft it so it'd will be most helpful to you and others.
    Thanks again for the support & encouragement!
    - - -
    And as always, if you're ready to grow your groceries here in NE FL... 
    Please, click here to see my services & book me for a consultation, so I can assess your site; we'll discuss design, answer your questions, talk #s, and get your project lined up. I offer turn-key raised bed food garden support services.
    If you'd like to support me...
    in freely sharing my stories & expertise, please consider passing along this article to a friend or sharing on social media. Each of my articles at least a couple hours of resource gathering, writing, and editing, so I want to make sure they don't just sit on the digital shelf.

    Respectfully,
    Nathan Ballentine (Man in Overalls)
    Itinerant Urban Farmer, Entrepreneur, Educator, Community Organizer
    Growing in Jacksonville, FL. Connecting Globally.
    (904) 240-9592
    Email Man In Overalls at Gmail dot com
    Man in Overalls on FB & IG
    ManInOveralls.com
    Blog - Services - Projects - Resources - About - Events

    Most viewed Man in Overalls posts of all time

    Why Can I Eat Bread in France, but not the USA?

    Updated 10/31/2017 as the National Organic Standards Board meets in Jacksonville, FL. This may well be the most important thing you read this year for your health. (Originally written in 2015 while I was traveling-- and eating bread-- with my wife in France.)

    I've got a food riddle for you from Paris, France: Why can I eat bread over here when it makes me sick at home?

    I'll share my best guess in a minute, but first, a little personal background.

    Since my senior year of high school, I've not been able to eat much bread at all. For five years, I was severely hypoglycemic, and everything I ate had to have more protein than carbohydrates. That meant, in effect, that I spent my years of college beer-less and eating lots of salad with meat on top. I ate tons of vegetables, very little fruit, basically no carbohydrates to speak of, meat, nuts, eggs, and cheese. If I accidentally ate, say, meat loaf that was, unbeknownst to me, made with bread in it, I'd spend the next 2-3 da…

    Man in Overalls - It's Like Washing Your Dishes

    I often hear folks joke, "Yeah, I had a garden once. I put in all this money & effort, and I only got a handful of tomatoes. Each one of them cost $27!" And they usually end by saying something about not having a green thumb.

    I smile and think about a mental model I've been working on: Growing your groceries is like washing your dishes.

    While they're raving about how many plants they've killed, I'm thinking, "It's not your thumbs. I bet you don't have a sink. And if you do, are you using decent soap or that garbage from the dollar store? And did you mention you've never washed dishes before in your life? And you're surprised you broke a couple wine glasses with no more experience than a four-year-old?" My eyebrows furrow involuntarily belying my thoughts, "Really? That doesn't seem all that surprising to me." But, of course, not only would saying all that confuse people, it'd kill the moment, so I just smile som…

    Man in Overalls - The Valley of Food & Ag Startups: Warren Wilson College

    If you're interested in tech, pay attention to Silicon Valley. If you're interested in food and agriculture, Swannnoa Valley, more specifically Warren Wilson College, is the place to keep on your radar.
    I'm an alum and proud of it, class of 2008. I studied community organizing, wrote a 140 page thesis about social movements as my capstone.
    It's a work college, one of seven in the country. Think universal work-study, so in addition to whatever one's academic track, students are also working in the cafeteria, the library, admissions, as carpenters, lock smiths, lab techs, and-- per the agricultural legacy of Warren Wilson-- as row crop, animal, and vegetable farmers, gardeners, and edible landscapers.  Personally, I worked on the electric crew and then on the landscape crew where I led the edible landscape sub-crew in managing a 1-acre edible (Permaculture) landscape around the "Ecodorm."

    Per the "triad" of Warren Wilson's educational system,…

    Man in Overalls - Growing Great Soil

    Good soil will basically grow your groceries for you, but how do you build great soil? 
    The answer is that there are two options: a quick & easy way and a DIY, hard(er) way. 

    So we're on the same page, I'm continuing my #GrowYourGroceries The Easy Way series by digging into the how-tos of growing great soil. These stories and techniques will likely make the most sense after reading Geeking on Good Soil, my last update. (I outlined where I was headed in The Big Picture.)


    As I was saying, the easy way to build a great soil is to fill raised beds with a terrific compost-based soil mix like my Magic Mix to jump start your food garden productivity from year one. From there, seasonally, you simply top-dress each season before planting with another few inches of compost-based soil mix. This is how I manage my own food garden and those of my customers. Why? Because at the root of things, I'm a lazy food gardener, and long ago I decided to embrace it. 😎

    But if you're not in th…

    Man In Overalls - My Compost System

    Composting, they say, is an art form. But, truth be told, I'm just too lazy for all that. My own compost philosophy is, "Crap rots in the woods, doesn't it?"

    But really. :)


    Whenever I think of home gardening systems, I always reflect back on my grandmother. She gardened up until the week she died at 93. She planted by the signs and assured me that's why her collards were not eaten up by bugs and were able to grow for 3 years running and up to 8 or 9 feet tall. She had a little rototiller, planted straight rows, mulched by spreading leaves to keep the weeds down. She threw out a little 10-10-10 from time to time and kept the cabbage worms at bay with Sevin dust. She hoed if the weeds called for it. But mostly, she harvested. Her pots were always full and her freezer always stuffed with produce: collards, mustards, turnips, peas, tomato gravy, squash, you name it.

    Now, I don't use 10-10-10 or sevin dust, and I'm not big on tilling. However, the thing I cont…

    Man in Overalls - Summer Garden Blues & What To Do

    Welcome to mid summer in the Deep South! If you're anything like me, you're actively looking for excuses to avoid going outside this time of year. The heat doesn't so much radiate down from the sun as it seems to rise from the side walk. Rain helps- for about ten minutes- and then simply adds to the humidity as it vaporizes on the payment, so that it feels like you need a snorkel to make it from the house to the car, but of course, it only gets worse when you turn on the AC, and that first puff of hot air feels as though someone just wrapped your face in a plastic bag - not to mention that if you cut your grass yesterday, you're going to have to do it again... tomorrow. And, lets not even talk about how fast the weeds grow this time of year! Or the insects seem to multiply! Oh, home... :)

    Here's the good news: If your garden looks a little worse for wear, it's okay. Really. Mine does too. As much as I aim for- and largely achieve- a productive & beautifull…

    Man in Overalls - When to Plant Tomatoes

    "Plant 'em in the spring. Eat 'em the summer. All winter without 'em's a culinary bummer," as John Denver sings in "Home Grown Tomatoes." 
    So, just when should you plant* your homegrown tomatoes? Or, more generally, when should you plant your spring food garden? (For an abbreviated version of this post revised & published in Edible Northeast Florida, click here.)
    Since tomatoes along with other spring favorites like squash, corn, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, and the like are "frost sensitive" (in other words, they'll die if it freezes), it's all about the "last frost date" for your area. Unless you're a weather savant and remember the last freeze for the past twenty years, you'll have to do some investigating.
    You could look up your Plant Hardiness Zone on this cool "interactive" map from the USDA, and you'd learn that Jacksonville is in zone 9a, Tallahassee is in 8b, and Atlanta is just bar…

    Man in Overalls - How to Start a School Garden: Design

    Before you get to build your school garden like this,
    before you can help kids get their hands dirty like this,
     or teach kids in your school garden like this,
    there are a few things you've got to take care of first.

    The #1 most important thing you've got to do is build your team. I say- with no exaggeration-- that human infrastructure is THE most important aspect of developing a successful school garden. But, I already wrote about building your school garden team last time. Assuming you're on track with that, a simultaneous step is to begin developing yourschool garden design.

    Here are a few things to should consider as you develop a school garden design:
    Purpose
    In your school garden interest meeting, one of the first questions you should ask is: "Why are you interested in a school garden?" Interestingly, this question serves two purposes. First, it helps the team gel because there will likely be a lot of overlap in answers. This will lend itself to a sense of s…

    Man in Overalls - What to Do When it Freezes in N FL

    Here's the short version: If you've got tender warm-season plants growing (think tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and the like), water thoroughly and then throw a sheet over your warm-season veggies & tropical fruit trees (especially if they've only been in the ground 1-2 years).

    I can't count how many people I've met who have a complex about "killing plants" and who think, "I don't have a green thumb." What they don't realize is that anyone (EVERYONE!) who grows their own groceries is well-versed in killing crops (myself not-withstanding). Why do you think there are entire USDA funding streams for crop loss insurance and crop-loss loans? Even the best of farmers-- much less gardeners-- inadvertently kill things from time to time.

    On the topic of freezes, a few years back (2010 I believe), I was up late organizing a kids food gardening workshop when I suddenly remembered it was supposed to freeze that night. Being 11pm or mi…