Lessons Learned: City Beet Farm

Posted by Kristen Nammour on November 26, 2017

City Beet Farm Chard Plot

We’re checking back in with our B.C. Business Mentorship Network participants to see how their seasons have gone and how mentorship has benefitted them.

We are Elana and Maddy from City Beet Farm in Vancouver. Our goals for the 2017
season were to pay off the farm that we bought in 2016 and run our first ever
successful, 60 member CSA program. We both committed entirely to making those
goals a reality. We sacrificed paying ourselves and working full time on the farm in order
to breakeven and not incur any debt. Long days, focus, dedication, a little help from
friends and our community all worked in our favour in order to succeed.

We feel like we met our financial and food production goals for the season, however, we
definitely could have done better on the self-care side of things. By the end of the
season, although we were proud of what we’d accomplished were sorely burnt-out and
in need of a break. This is something we want to work on and prioritize next year.
We focused this year on our CSA as a sales outlet. Next year we plan to expand the cut
flower project we started and further build our relationship with a local café/grocer.
Our model is unique because we grow all our veggies on front and backyards in the
neighbourhood where many of our CSA members live. People are able to walk by the
spaces where their food is growing and can have a relationship with us, as their

City BEet Farm Bee Break

The Young Agrarians mentorship gave us the financial skills to be able to stay afloat in
our first year. We are tremendously grateful for the input and advice that we were given
by our mentors as well as the support and feedback that Kristen provided. Through the
program we learned about the Vancity Small Growers Fund and the interest rebate
program from Farm Folk City Folk. This program gave us the cash flow to plan and
invest in ourselves over the next 3 years.

Our mentors gave us the perspective that things always work out. They encouraged us
to chill-out when we were stressed and gave us ideas for ways to adapt and be dynamic
when things weren’t meeting our expectations.

We definitely learned our constraints as an urban farm operation. There are some
crops, that while we would love to grow them, just don’t make sense in our model. We
feel happy, proud about the season and are looking forward to doing things even better
next year. We don’t have any plans to expand in terms of the number of members we
take on. We would like to grow more produce for our members and work on expanding
our flower project.

We are looking forward to resting our bodies this winter, rejuvenating ourselves and not
having a daily, dirt uni-brow!

City Beet Farm Coffee Break

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 & the BC Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

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