Farm Business Tools
Young Agrarians works to empower new farmers to learn business skills that will allow their farms to thrive. We offer a B.C. Farm Business Mentorship Network as well as Business Management Tools to streamline your farm management practices. You can also stay up to date on our Business Blog!
THE BC BUSINESS MENTORSHIP NETWORK IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2018 SEASON.
Young Agrarians offers a limited number of business mentorships annually to new farmers to support skills development to run ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, we aim to nurture educational spaces that allow new farmers to work out how to overcome obstacles and achieve business goals.
DEADLINE: November 12th, 2017
Whether you are in need of business basics or strategic planning for long-term growth, Young Agrarians knows that gaining business development skills is one of the big challenges facing new farmers. Our aim is to provide new farmers with an opportunity to build their business knowledge and use it to grow their farm operations to achieve long-term viability.
Mentees will receive approx. 40 hours of mentorship and will be paired with mentors over three to four months throughout the winter and early spring. Mentors will help you to analyze your operations and chart a course to move forward towards financial sustainability. Mentorships will be by phone, email, and where possible site visits and in-person meetings.
Additionally, this winter season we’re planning to spend some time together as a full cohort to work directly on your farm business projects! We’re hoping all accepted applicants are available for an in-person work along in Kelowna, BC between January 22-26, 2018. Exact days TBD and there will likely be a small cost for attending – please contact us if this would prevent you from applying or participating (we’ll work something out).
To support you to grow a sustainable farm business! Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, we aim to nurture educational spaces that allow new farmers to work out how to overcome obstacles and achieve business goals. Ultimately we want to see you produce an increase in: crop yields, revenues, and where possible, area of land in production.
Program Requirements of Mentee:
- Commit to participating in 35-40 of mentorship hours over the course of 3-4 months.
- Participate in orientation sessions, webinars, and closing session.
- Complete an evaluation at the end of the program.
- Must submit prior year financials, land in production, and volume of food produced.
- After mentorship and season is complete, must submit end of production season financials, land in production, and volume of food produced.
- Must complete two blog posts, one in the Spring either during or after Mentorship hours are wrapped up, and one in the fall of 2017.
- Resource Map – add your farm and 1-3 of their favourite resources to the Young Agrarians U-Map: http://maps.youngagrarians.org/
- Fill out the BC Ecological Farmers Survey – to be completed upon acceptance into the program, while drinking a pot of tea: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KSC65HJ
- Mentees must also support the creation of a work schedule with their mentor.
- $100 program fee to be paid on acceptance into mentorship network.
- Applicants must email their resume as it pertains to agriculture upon submission of the application form.
- All applicants must be residents of British Columbia.
- Priority will be given (but not limited to) to new entrants into agriculture ages 18-35, having been in operation for less than 3-5 years.
Applications will be peer-reviewed. Please note that every effort will be made to provide all applicants with a match, however Young Agrarians cannot guarantee that you will be placed in the program as this is determined by the number of mentors available with the appropriate skills and know-how relevant to your farm operation.
2015-2016-2017-2018 Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network 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.
Check out a few of our favourite farm business planning resources below. Have a business tool you love? Have you come across a resource that has helped you streamline your farm finances or operations? Share it with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to see what business resources are available in your region? See what’s on the UMAP!
Business Planning Tools
One Page Business Planning – Create a thirty minute business plan! This is a simple visioning and goal setting worksheet to help you set farm business objectives, plan measurable goals and the actions to get you there!
Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book – Farm Business Planning ‘Lite’ This workbook will take you through the basics of business planning but it pays to delve deeper once you’ve outlined your plan here. Print this workbook out!
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for a Farm or Rural Business – This workbook provides a more comprehensive examination of your business idea, marketing strategies, operations, human resources, and financial needs of your farm venture. A bank is going to want to see a business plan along these lines along with more detailed financial information.
Smart Farm BC – This website is a Ministry of Agriculture business resource website covering AgriBIZ from A-Z!
Farm Business Planning Guides – These BC Ministry of Agriculture guides may be a little dated but are great business plan examples of production specific enterprises: Chicken Broiler Producer, Dairy Producer, Grains and Seeds, Bee Keeper, Cow/Calf Ranch, Greenhouse Vegetable, Greenhouse Floriculture, Wholesale Nursery, & Direct Farm Marketing.
Sample Farm Business Plans!
Persephone Brewing – Hops Farming Business Plan Template (very well designed!)
Futurepreneur – Agricultural Enterprise Template (another hops plan but can easily be tailored to your enterprise)
For the full run down of these CSA Management tools and more read Chris Bodner’s review of each here: Tools for Small Farms
Harvest Hand CSA Platform
Web based CSA membership management, built in website, integrated newsletter & social media, and e-commerce platform. Annual cost is $10 per CSA member. Built in Nova Scotia ($)
Farmigo CSA Management Software
Streamlines the management of selling, packing, and distribution of your CSA ($)
Small Farm Central CSA Management Software
Developed by Small Farm Central, provides web based CSA member management software ($)
Small Farm Central
Web design and development for small scale farmers, puts you easily in control of your own website ($)
A supply chain platform for managing wholesale customers’ orders, deliveries, and payments through a web based software ($)
Mail Chimp E-Newsletters
An email marketing service provider that allows you to easily manage your newsletter subscriptions with a full suite of analytics for tracking sign-ups, opens, and traffic to your website.
Soilmate.com is a website that connects consumers with their local food and drink growers, raisers, producers, and supporters.It allows consumers to find specific growers and products, as well as stores and restaurants that support those local growers and carry/use their products. For farmers this is a great way to have a web presence and e-commerce abilities without the process of building a website! (Free for Farmers!)
Production and Operations Tools
ATTRA Master Publications List – A wealth of knowledge! Peruse ATTRA’s database of more than 300 easy-to-read 1-2 page publications covering organic production, livestock, horticultural crops, business and marketing, farm energy, water and pest management and more. Publications are written by sustainable agriculture specialists, who are experts in their fields.
Seeding Manual (Roxbury Farm, NY) – This manual describes, crop- by- crop, how each is seeded, transplanted, protected, and cultivated. Don’t be overwhelmed by it’s completeness! Strive to start with your three favourite crops and build on it each season. Think of how helpful this tool would be to new employees or apprentices!
Harvest Manual (Roxbury Farm, NY) – This manual outlines, crop-by-crop, harvest procedures, ready-to-harvest indicators, packing and washing procedures, and storage conditions. By streamlining your harvesting and packing procedures your operations become more efficient and you build value into your product through high quality standards.
Enterprise Budgets – These enterprise budgets have been designed by KPU’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems and cover Vegetable, Animal, and Specialty Crop Budgets. An enterprise budget is a helpful tool because it projects the costs and returns of growing and selling a particular crop or livestock over a period of time.
Farm Finance Glossary – Julia Shanks has an awesome glossary of helpful business and finance terms for farmers and food producers.
Getting Started with Quickbooks for Farmers – The Carrot Project & Julia Shanks team up again to review the basic accounting concepts that underlie QuickBooks and go through the basic set-up of the online software. Download the slides.
Quickbooks for Farmers: Expenses & Sales (part 2) – This session takes the user through entering sales and expenses as well as how to use classes and customers to review profitability of sales channels. Download the slides.
Farm Cash Flow Statement (Explanation) – Skip to Lecture 3 for explanation of cash flow template.
Farm Cash Flow Statement (Template) – Skip to Unit 2 to download cash flow template.
Understanding Consumer Behaviour at Farmers Markets: An Innovative Approach to Increasing Sales – Get a primer in retail science and consumer behaviour to see how you can get more customers buying more product at farmers markets.
47 Royalty Free Vegetable Images for Download – From A to Zucchini! Your website, newsletters and facebook page could use a little pizazz.
Write a Better End of Season Customer Survey – If you haven’t ever checked in with your customers at the end of a season you’re missing out on valuable feedback that you should incorporate into the next season’s planning. Take a few ideas from this article and adapt them to your marketing channels whether its a CSA or restaurant and retail customers!
PRIZM 5 Market Analysis Tool – Demographic and psychographic snapshot of Canadian postal codes. Get an idea of what kind of consumers live in your target market.
Human Resource Tools
Guide to Developing a BC Agricultural Employee Handbook – Smart Farm BC has put together a easy to follow guide for developing an employee handbook. Whether you’ve got a few WWOOFers or dozens of employees it is important to establish guidelines and set parameters for working on your farm to protect both your employees, yourself, and your business.
PracticalFarmers.org – Ongoing winter series every Tuesday evening! Sort archives by topic or farm priorities.
Agriwebinar.com – Farm Management Canada’s amazing database of ag sector information!
Posted by Kristen Nammour on October 19, 2017
Ready to Grow Your Farm Business? Are you a young (or young at heart) animal or vegetable producer living in British Columbia? Are you operating a new farm and looking for guidance to grow your business? Young Agrarians is excited to offer a fourth season (woo!) of the BC Business Mentorship Network! This program pairs new and seasoned farmers together to cultivate the skills for running ecologically sustainable and financially viable businesses. Mentors work with you to analyze your operations and lay the groundwork for your farm’s business growth. Additionally, this winter season we’re planning to spend some time together as a full cohort to work directly on your … Continue reading 2018 BC BUSINESS MENTORSHIP NETWORK – APPLY!
Posted by Moss Dance on August 16, 2017
Are you a new farmer? Meet Emma Holmes, your new contact and support person at the BC Ministry of Agriculture! The following blog post is an introduction from Emma and an invitation to new farmers to connect and share ideas. To encourage young people to get into farming and boost innovation in the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Agriculture is working on a New Entrant Strategy to support new farmers and food processors in the province. The strategy includes creating a position for someone to 1) work closely with new farmers and 2) develop programs to serve new farmers. I recently started … Continue reading BRITISH COLUMBIA: Provincial Programs and Resources for New Farmers
Posted by Moss Dance on August 15, 2017
We are excited to share this report on ecological farm internships edited by Charles Z. Levkoe and Michael Ekers. Contributors to the report are farmers, past interns, non-profit organizations, and lawyers. The goal of the report is to “assess the implications and trajectories of the non-monetary exchanges of labour and education, among other things, taking place on ecological farms.” Read the report here: Ecological Farm Internships – Models, Experiences and Justice – Levkoe and Ekers (Interactive) The report takes a broad view of ecological farm internships—accounting for the need for labour on small farms, the educational benefits, as well as the risks and drawbacks … Continue reading Ecological Farm Internships: Modes, Experiences, and Justice
Posted by Kristen Nammour on May 19, 2017
OK. So what are enterprise budgets exactly?! Good question! Enterprise budgets are a farm business management tool which project the costs and returns of a specific activity (ie: growing a vegetable crop or raising livestock) over a specified period of time (typically annually). WATCH: Enterprise Budgets Webinar (April 14, 2017) They are both a physical and financial plan for raising and selling a particular crop or livestock enterprise. As a physical plan, enterprise budgets list types and quantities of production inputs and track crop yields. From a financial perspective, they also assign costs to inputs related to producing that crop … Continue reading HOW TO: Enterprise Budgets for Small Farms
Posted by Kristen Nammour on April 15, 2017
Hi my name is Emma and together with my partner Scott, we operate Bent Plow Farm. Where do you farm? We were farming in Eastern Ontario for the past three years, but now we find ourselves on new land in Nelson BC. What do you farm? We have been farming vegetables on a one acre piece for CSA, retail, and farmers’ markets. What type of business structure is your farm? I am the sole-proprietor of our business, but we operate much like a partnership. What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this? We have a … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – Bent Plow Farm
Posted by Kristen Nammour on April 15, 2017
Ahoy! We are Stephanie Vigneux (Urban Farmer) Jordie Bulpit (Horticulturalist) from SOLscapes collaborating with Samantha Philips and Lisa Giroday of Victory Gardens. With a bit of a divergent business model, we’re so honored to be participating in the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network this season as a new ground is broken. So what do we do then? Imagine a spin off of SPIN farming. SOLscapes is an ecologically sustainable landscaping company that services the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. Our focus is to help our customers grow their own food, for their own use. We do this by designing edible and … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – SOLscapes Edible Landscaping
Posted by Kristen Nammour on April 11, 2017
Name? Rachael and Dane Sherstad Where do you farm? Paradise Valley Produce, Powell River, BC What do you farm? At this point buttercup… but hopefully delicious mixed veggies coming soon! What type of business structure is your farm? Partnership What is your land tenure? We purchased this land last summer and made the move to the Sunshine Coast in November. Endless thanks to the most supportive family ever for making this possible! How did you seriously get into farming? Farming is a new adventure for both of us as we transition from backgrounds in outdoor education/guiding. We both feel as if we are in the early … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – Rachael & Dane, Paradise Valley Produce
Posted by Kristen Nammour on April 07, 2017
Name? Sweet Digz Farm – Kareno Hawbolt & Kimi Hendess Where do you farm? Richmond, BC What do you farm? We use organic farming practices to grow veggies, seed and herbal medicinals. What type of business structure is your farm? Our business is a partnership of two sole proprietors: Kareno & Kimi. Officially, we are “Sweet Digz Farm & Construction.” Up until last year we had a carpentry side where Kimi did renovations and in 2014-15 built a tiny house for a client. Since 2016 we are trying to have Kimi full time on the farm along with head farmer Kareno. We also have been able … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – Kimi & Kareno, Sweet Digz Farm
Posted by Alyssa Belter on April 03, 2017
We are David and Alyssa of Plenty Wild Farms – we are part of the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network and are working with Chris Bodnar, our mentor from Close to Home Organics. We feel incredibly fortunate to receive mentorship support – thank you Young Agrarians! The primary goal for our mentorship this season is to prepare Plenty Wild Farms for the birth of our first child in June (model timing, am I right?). In a normal season, Alyssa works full-time on the farm – in the field managing day-to-day operations, at a desk bookkeeping and on the road marketing. Frankly, her … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – Alyssa & David, Plenty Wild Farms
Posted by Kristen Nammour on March 30, 2017
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 … Continue reading Business Mentorship Network – Maddy & Elana, City Beet Farm