Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

44 responses to “Why Our Incredibly Popular Farmers Market Food Truck Failed”

  1. Why Our Incredibly Successful Farmers Market Food Truck Failed | Hayseeds

    […] It all comes down to one specific moment… This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Forrest. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  2. Jennifer

    So well said, Forrest, and can apply to anything and everything in life. We must focus on what we can do, what we love to do, and what is most beneficial to do in our short time on this planet. Thanks for another thoughtful and profound blog entry!

  3. Sandra

    Thank you, Forrest! I have found that success IS the ability to say NO when the situation is no longer personally sustainable, no matter how much our customers clamor for our products. You cook a mean burger, but you produce an even meaner one. Keep on farming, dude!

  4. tanya

    as overstretched farmers who had food truck dreams that we did not act on — before food trucks were cool — this was reassuring to read. Maybe we didn’t miss the chance of a lifetime with our early food truck dreams.

  5. Ellen kittredge

    I don’t think I was that woman…but I could have been! I really loved your food too!! You pulled of a great thing, for the time that you did it. And your community loved you for it. So thanks for giving it a try! And thanks for recognizing as well, where your time and heart really needs to be spent.

  6. Chad

    Sounds like you need another visionary to run this business for you – it sounds like a fantastic idea…if only I didn’t live so far away. 🙂 I think we need to continue to try our ideas whenever possible, even if/when they don’t work out the way we hoped or planned…isn’t that the spice of life? Was it Edison or Einstein that tried like 100 or 1000 inventions before “the one”?

  7. Allison

    Well that explains where you went–I’ve been wondering! We were amongst your happy repeat customers, and I’m very sorry to see you go, but in my brief, delicious interactions with your food truck, it was anything but a failure. Thanks for giving it a go, and for the delicious food! Better to have eaten and lost than to have never eaten at all…

  8. Phyllis

    People in cities desire farm fresh food. Living in city of 320,000 we have total dead zones where farmers mkts are not available for working parents/ child Saturday filled activities. However if it were not for people like you for just taking that chance no one would know what they are missing. You have proven there is a desire for this kind of food in that area. Maybe you are better on the farm but maybe there is someone looking for opportunity to work for you in the near future who would better in the truck. I am in amazement of farmers. My father grew up on a farm and I work at my local farmers mkt every weekend. I love it!! It is in my blood. But you have the right idea just figure out a different path!! Don’t give up! Best of luck

  9. Boot Camp Life Coaching

    We like this title better: Why Our Incredibly Popular Farmers Market Food Truck Retired!

    “Stopping when we did added years of energy to my farming career.”


    Your story is inspiring our FB post today to clients about why quitting is often the best move.
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Rose

    SO did you sell the truck???

  11. Alex

    It’s like Samuel Beckett said: Fail again. Fail better. (And I wish I’d had a chance to try your food!)

  12. Robert

    If only “slightly” stuck, let some air out of the tires. But I wouldn’t know what to do with chickens so I’m glad you handle them.

    As to the big question, hard choice but the right one. Perhaps Chad’s “visionary” will emerge to run a food truck business with food you grow, or perhaps not. Either way do what you are best at which is being a FARMER!

  13. Chris Nelson

    But … it’s not necessarily failure. When you move from “raising food, cooking it, serving it to paying customers, cleaning up afterwards and planning for the next day’s menu” to “running a restaurant”, for example, you no longer have the time or energy to do it all. So you start buying the food from suppliers you trust. You hire servers. You hire chefs. Is it “failure” to come to the realization that you can’t do it all? No! It’s part of the result of success. You specialize. You become a capitalist. If you want to move back to “raising food, cooking it, serving it to paying customers, cleaning up afterwards and planning for the next day’s menu” – and there’s no shame in that, as you already know! – then do that. But having that choice is also “success” in my book.

    Congratulations on your “failure”.

  14. Paula Chase

    No Farms, No Food aka No Farmers, No Food. That’s whether the farmer retires or dies of a massive coronary in the middle of the market. Why do we all think we can do everything? Is it part of the disease of farming?

    Go back to the farm and do what you do best, farm! and don’t let anyone let you feel guilty!

  15. Lisa McLeod

    Wow Forrest I can so relate to your story….however you trump us by a long shot…it only took you a month to figure out that the truck wasn’t for you. It took us EIGHT years!! We grew (past tense is true) organic pinot noir grapes here in what has been called the “Siberia” of Prince Edward County, Ontario, for 8 years before we finally threw in the towel. We also “branched” out into a partnership in a local winery, because, we like others before (and many to follow I am sure) realized that the only way to be paid properly is to be able to sell the end product rather than just the ingredients (in our case, just grapes). Long story short, firstly grow the “heartbreak grape”, the hardest way possible (organically), in the worst climate to do so, is tough enough. But add to that running a big company in another city at the same time, and trying to work on the farm with local help, and worrying about the vines, made it all the more difficult. Our 2007 wine was called “the best Pinot in Canada” on our national broadcaster’s monthly wine radio show, and we sold out the next weekend. That was a proud but shortlived moment and we exited both the winery business and let our vineyard go back to nature a scant year after. Now I am happy to say that the “failure” of our vineyard has allowed me to focus on doing what I do best and enjoy the most–raising and showing horses. So there is a rainbow–and kudos to you for having the guts to try it and the brains to find your true direction–quickly!!!

  16. Margie

    Hi Forrest,

    I’m going to second Chad’s idea. If you had the inclination to continue, I don’t want you to think I’m being a bossy-pants here, but if you were so inclined, you could hire like-minded, skilled people to take the truck out and serve your customers while you supervise/ work your farm. My husband and I were just talking about a gluten-free-casein-free-vegan food truck and how it may have a market in more populated areas. It sounds like you already have a customer base as well as success with location, sales, and everything else involved with running a mobile food business, so you’re already miles ahead in that respect…
    I’m just thinking out loud at this point, but it could be a new phase of business for you… Can you tell I’m an entrepreneur? 🙂
    Be Well, Margie

  17. greg

    There are probably fifty aspiring chefs you could hire to run your truck for you. If demand is good, you can even pay them a living wage and keep a little for yourself. Hell, if business is REALLY good, you could franchise it. I just read Will Allen’s ‘Good Food Revolution’ and it’s full of stories like this.

    Keep up the good work!

  18. Carol Carrier

    The problem wasn’t that you had to give up the truck. It’s that small farmers work incredibly hard to keep their business in the black and find a balance to their lives ( like keeping a marriage together or spending any time with your kids). The fixed costs like mortgages and insurance as well as maintaining your payroll leave very little leeway for failed ventures. i wish you well, you’ve worked a lot of magic thus far,

  19. Deloma Lusk

    That’s what you get for being so good at what you do, more work! It’s proof you were defiantly a success . It takes a wise and successful man to realize he is on overload and needs to slow down and enjoy life. I know you will be missed but someone some where will still be enjoying your fresh items and now that you are slowing down, you will be around longer for them to enjoy it.
    Kudos my friend

  20. Casa Rosa

    Great post. Sums up some of my own feelings lately.

  21. kathie martin

    I think we should take the word “failure” out of the dictionary altogether. It’s a real spirit stomping word. It makes people feel badly. I have seen students who have attached it as a label to themselves, or worse yet, others have attached it to them. The outcome of that label is never good. Could we just substitute the word “cookies” for the word failure? I think the world would be a better place then. Then “failure” would bring genuine smiles. Remember the Robert Fulghum(?) wisdom about how everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten? Cookies, milk, smiles? I think farmers provide all the ingredients for those three staples of life. Hmmmm…I think Ray Bradbury would have loved this idea of word burning. And Happy Father’s Day.

  22. kathie martin

    And definitely naps.

  23. Karen Yosafat Beleck

    I appreciated reading your post. I am in a similar situation. But I would like to know if the idea of hiring someone else to run the food truck was a thought or a possibility before you decided to close it down? This situation I am in requires me to have help outside of myself to continue in the situation I am in. I believe it will be profitable to continue, but I cannot do it all myself. Would you be willing to share your thoughts?
    Thanks. Karen

  24. ernesto sirolli

    There is no record of any successful company in the world started by one person. It takes a team with different passions: to Produce, to Market and to Manage the Finances to suceed. It is truly upsetting to see extraordinary people fail in business and the story of Forrest is, unfortunately the norm, not the exception. We don’t teach entrepreneurs the truth about starting businesses and the consequence, in this case, is that a farmer will remain a price taker (removed from the immediate feedback of the market) , the public will not have access to quality foods and everybody will be poorer for it. The irony is that there are probably hundreds of young people who, on a commission basis, would love to go and sell Forrest’ foods. And how many retaired accountants would help him for free or for a box of veggies? Forrest I help you for free to set up a team if you want.

  25. ernesto sirolli

    Absolutely…only ever help those who wish to be helped !
    If ever you wish to talk to an Enterprise Facilitator in Canada give us a call. 1 877 SIROLLI
    By the way you write very well. Cheers Ernesto

  26. Lyle Tabb

    Hey, Forrest, I agree with your desire to find a less negative connotation for the word “failure”. But can you really call it failure if you are still operating a profitable business at the end of the day? Call it “cut bait”, “drop back and punt”, or any other little phrase you can come up with, you get another chance to try something else that just might work for you. And after reading this, I see that you totally get that. I’ve enjoyed it, and it gives me a better perspective on the things I’ve tried that I don’t do anymore. You say that you’re a farmer, which you are, but you are also a great storyteller, and that is more of a gift than a “trade”. I heard about your book deal, and I hope it takes off for you. Keep telling your stories, Forrest. It might be some of the best work you ever do.

  27. laura edwards

    Why didn’t you find partners who wanted to run a food truck biz? I am interested in the food/produce truck, but not in the farming ; )

    1. Cinnamon

      Hello Forrest – to tie into Laura’s comment, in your honorable opinion, as a farmer, would you have been happy to have someone else, focused on supporting the local movement, make this kind of food truck work? Maybe with several of the local farmers’ goods and not the pressure of your name tied to it? It sounds like you had many happy customers! I’m wondering if farmers, in general, would appreciate another way of getting their products out into their community in this manner? I know I should just ask the farmers in my area, however, I’m also interested in your opinion! Thanks for your time. 🙂

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