We are Maddy and Elana and we are the new farmers at City Beet Farm in Vancouver. We farm on a dozen different properties in East Van, around the Riley Park neighbourhood. This summer we are growing over 70 types of veggies and cut flowers for our 22 week CSA program that runs from end of May to mid-October. Our land tenure model is pretty unique. We are very fortunate to have a community of homeowners who support our business and trade us the land around their homes for weekly vegetables.
We came into farming from different angles but with a shared love for good, nutritious food and community commitment. Maddy has a background in accounting, entrepreneurship and small-business startup. Elana is an alumni from the 2015 co-hort of the UBC Farm Practicum, worked at the UBC Farm in 2016 and has been working on a M.Sc in Soil Science. Elana is SO thankful for Maddy’s skills and Maddy for Elana’s. Balance in this farming business we hope will be our forté!
We applied for the YA Business Mentorship Network because after taking over the farm in the fall of 2016 we felt we could benefit from a structure mentorship program with Katie and Ruth, the previous owners and founders of City Beet Farm and YA was offering an incredible suite of webinars and resources to tune our business plan and organizational skills.
The greatest business challenge that we face as a young farmer is managing cash flow so that we can pay-off the cost of the business and keep ourselves afloat in our first season. Our business goals are to pay off the cost of the business; deliver the best possible veggies to a sold-out CSA program; and to explore new revenue streams, including cut-flowers and a food-truck collaboration. We are feeling super grateful and on track to be able to achieve that through the help of our mentors and the YA network.
Our website and the streamlined nature of collecting payments that it provides is really instrumental for our CSA and helps keep our lives simple. We are also really into the Quickbooks accounting software and our large desk-top paper calendar to keep us on track.
If we had a farming super power it would be to chill-out like mycorrhizae in the roots of plants for a few minutes each day. We’d love to be able to tap into that network and listen to the communication that goes on in the under ground ecosystem. We’d respond just right to the plants cues of thirst, hunger and danger, instead we must learn to do that by careful observation and intuition.
Elana’s favourite farm book right now is “Love Letter to the Earth” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s not exactly a farm book but it is one that reminds her to listen to the land think holistically. Right now, Maddy is feeling inspired by both “The Resilient Farm and Homestead” (Ben Falk) and “The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer” (Jeff and Melanie Carpenter).
You can find out more about City Beet Farm by visiting our website www.citybeetfarm.com or checking us out on Facebook and Instagram @citybeetfarm. Or better yet you can take a stroll through the Riley Park neighbourhood and check out some of our properties and catch us a work. We’d love to meet you and have a chat!
2015, 2016, & 2017 Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network Pilot is provided in part by Vancity, Salt Spring Coffee, Rotary Hastings Sunrise, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.