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.
My name is Simon Answerth and I Farm a quarter acre of leased land under a incubator program in Kelowna, BC. My farm business is called Lightfoot Farm and I hope to expand to a half acre next year as well as recruit the help of my wife.
This year my goals were to; add 3 new restaurant customers, set up a CSA program with between 5-15 members and increase public exposure with intensive advertising.
My advertising campaign was mainly focused on attracting CSA members. I letter dropped 100 of my neighbours, advertised on my Facebook page and I also took out an ad on our local online classifieds.
It became apparent very early on in the season that my CSA program was going to have very little support as I had received feedback from only a couple of people who seemed tire kickers at best.
This prompted me to rapidly change direction with my crop production and start focussing more on restaurant sales than market/CSA. After visiting many different restaurants, cafes and delis I felt confident in the response I received to be able to move product all year. Besides a few cash sales and a very small pop-up stand I started towards the end of the season, restaurant sales were my main source of income.
After sitting down at the end of the season with many of the chefs I believe a fair price point, high attention to detail and willingness to accommodate were three of the main reasons chefs chose to buy my product.
Although it is still very much under par, the mentorship has definitely helped me improve my book keeping, filing and record keeping skills. However, this is something I know I need to dedicate hours to every week if I am to be successful in the future. I also feel that my mentor has dramatically improved my harvesting speed and post harvest skillets a pace I now consider to be competitive. (Lets just say I’m now well beyond the stage of spinning salad greens in my kitchen with a lettuce spinner!!)
Even though every experienced market gardener tells the rookies to not over do your workload and to slowly increase your numbers I think this is a lesson best learnt the hard way! Well, it was in my case anyway!! Besides having a 6 month old we also decided, at the beginning of April, to under take a “small” renovation to our house which ended up way over budget and 6 weeks longer than we had planned. This meant even earlier starts and later finishes than the Spring time hustle usually brings. Something we have promised to never do again! Especially seeing as we are hoping to expand our lease next year to a half acre.
Now that all of my product is either out of the ground or in cold storage it is time to focus on the important things like praying for metres and metres of snow on the mountains!!! I am also in the process of reconstructing our garden shed to function as a solar passive greenhouse that can hopefully be used this winter to grow micro greens.
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.