Trading a life in the sky for one in the soil and making a profit in the process

Chis Bailey left the air for the earth.

After being furloughed in February from his job as a pilot for Horizon Air he decided to take up farming. This spring he started his new business, called Bailey’s Farm Fresh Produce in Wenatchee, and he has done what many new businessmen fail to do in their first year – turn a profit.

Chris Bailey

“I turned a profit this season,” he said. “I turned a profit starting in August.”

He said he only farms one acre but that he has grown as many as a hundred different varieties of vegetables, beans, fruit and even some flowers. He sells his produce primarily at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market and Mike’s Meats & Farmer’s Market but he said he has also sold to Farmhouse Table Produce on Mission Street and even Visconti’s Italian Restaurant.

He said he made three very deliberate decisions when starting his business. One was to not hire any employees. Two was not to borrow any money and three was to do everything manually.

“My objective was to start up as cheaply as possible,” he said. “It’s really impossible to do this kind of farming if you’re paying a mortgage on the place.”

He said that rather than borrowing money he dipped into his savings and didn’t pay more than $1000 for any piece of equipment. And doing everything himself has taught him a lot. He said he’s always been a gardener but this is first foray into Ag business.

“I decided this first year was kind of like being an intern for myself,” he said. “And I’ve learned a lot.”

He said next season he hopes to expand and farm five acres and produce less variety so he can sell more of what Wenatchee Valley consumers want.

Bailey said he enjoys his new job and doesn’t think he’ll go back to aviation. He said he appreciates the fact that he gets more time with his family – especially since he and his wife recently had their second child. He said the new business is like a baby as well.

“My wife says that we had twins this year.”

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