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!


Business Mentorship Network

grow your farm - business skills for farmers - apply to the young agrarians business mentorship network

THE 2017 BC BUSINESS MENTORSHIP NETWORK IS IN SESSION – APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2018 PROGRAM WILL OPEN IN THE FALL OF 2017.

Young Agrarians is offers a limited number of business mentorships 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.

Interested in potentially being a Mentor? Email: kristen@youngagrarians.org

Program Description:

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 around 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.

Program Goals:

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 40-45 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.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • 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.

Funders

2015-2016-2017 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.


Farm Business Tools

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: kristen@youngagrarians.org.

Want to see what business resources are available in your region? See what’s on the MAP!

Farm Business Tools for New Farmers in Agroecology

Business Planning Tools

One Page Business Planning – 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.

Web Tools

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 ($)

Local Orbit
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.

Soil Mate
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.

Finance Tools

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 Basics – Money in, Money out, Assets and Liabilities, you know, the basics.

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.

Marketing Tools

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!

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.

Farminars 

Virtual GrangeStone Barns Centre for Sustainable Agriculture has a wealth of farming focused educational videos from farm business management to soil biology and small engine maintenance.

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!

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BUSINESS BLOG


Getting Started with Holistic Management

Posted by Dana Penrice on January 28, 2017

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Adapted from Dana Penrice and Ted Chastko’s Intro to Holistic Management presentation at the YA Kelowna and Vancouver Island Winter Mixers. The nature of managing natural systems requires that we create farms and farm businesses that are adaptive. The challenge is that farming is complex and things are always emerging and evolving and we need to be able to adapt. In other words, we need to fit our skills capacities, resources to the context of threats, challenges and opportunities in which we’re working.  As farmers, on a typical day, any number of ideas, questions and thoughts run through our head in a … Continue reading Getting Started with Holistic Management

Lessons Learned: Graham Bradley and the Gabriola Food Hub

Posted by Kristen Nammour on January 26, 2017

Graham Bradley races by on his red electric cargo bike delivering produce for the Gabriola Food Hub

Name, Farm, Location? Graham Bradley, 40×40 Farm, the Gabriola Food Hub, and I have been very involved at Good Earth Farm.  All of these businesses are on Gabriola Island, BC. What were your goals for this season and how did you work to achieve those? My main goals take form in two mottos: ‘work to learn’ and ‘don’t stop’. ‘Work to learn’ comes from something I read from Curtis Stone (an urban farmer from Kelowna who played a role in inspiring me to become a farmer). The full quote is “Work to learn and not to earn.” Often businesses lose money in … Continue reading Lessons Learned: Graham Bradley and the Gabriola Food Hub

January 28-29: SHAWNIGAN LAKE, BC – Young Agrarians 4th Vancouver Island Winter Farmer Mixer

Posted by Moss Dance on January 23, 2017

ya-winmix-vi-final-print

Join us for two days of workshops for small-scale, ecological farmers and farmers-to-be on Vancouver Island. Dive in to amazing networking opportunities and skills-sharing with experienced farmer facilitators who are ready to help you grow your farm business. We’ve got workshops on everything from farm business planning to holistic management and livestock to crop planning, land access, and more! Are you farm-curious, or thinking about becoming a farmer? JOIN US! Everyone is welcome! When: Saturday, January 28 – Sunday January 29, 2017 Where:  Camp Pringle, Coast Salish Territory Camp (Shawnigan Lake), 2520 West Shawnigan Lake Rd, Shawnigan Lake B.C. V0R 2W3 Cost: Our updated price is … Continue reading January 28-29: SHAWNIGAN LAKE, BC – Young Agrarians 4th Vancouver Island Winter Farmer Mixer

Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: ‘Hawthorn Creek Farm’

Posted by Kristen Nammour on December 14, 2016

hawthorne-creek-farm-fields

Hi, this is Laticia Chapman checking in with YA Business Mentorship Blog #2. I’m going to freestyle it, because my year diverged wildly from my expectations circa last January. I’ve just passed my first anniversary living at my family farm in Tarrys, BC, between Castlegar and Nelson in the West Kootenays. We haven’t settled on a name in any legal sense, but ‘Hawthorn Creek Farm’ is a strong contender. So let me say right off the bat that you’d have to call this season a #farmfail for me, at least in a business sense. My focus for this mentorship was … Continue reading Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: ‘Hawthorn Creek Farm’

Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Duck Creek Farm

Posted by Kristen Nammour on December 12, 2016

duck-creek-farm-crew-2016

1. Name, Farm, Location? Emma Holmes, Duck Creek Farm, Salt Spring Island. I stepped in as farm manager for my friend Eland Brontstein, who took a year to farm in Australia and be with his lovely fiancé. 2. What were your goals for this season and how did you work to achieve those? Explore farming as a career option, get experience in all of the skills related to farming (marketing, finances, flame weeding, etc.), and create a positive intern experience 3. Did you meet your goals / Did it work out? I learnt a lot! It allowed me to try … Continue reading Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Duck Creek Farm

Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Merville Organic Growers’ Co-op

Posted by Kristen Nammour on December 10, 2016

Merville Organics - Robin Market

1. Name, Farm, Location? Arzeena Hamir & Neil Turner (Amara Farm), Moss Dance, Russell Heitzmann & Robin Sturley (Ripple Farm), Kira Kotilla (Kloverdalen Farm) and Calliope Gazetas. Together we are Merville Organic Grower Co-op, in Courtenay, BC. 2. What were your goals for this season and how did you work to achieve those? Our first year working together as a co-op was very exciting and we made a lot of progress. We all run our own farms as well so there were still plenty of important things that we just didn’t have time to work on in our first year. … Continue reading Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Merville Organic Growers’ Co-op

Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Plenty Wild Farms

Posted by Alyssa Belter on December 08, 2016

plenty-wild-lambs

We are Alyssa Belter & David Tanner of Plenty Wild Farms in Pemberton, B.C. Our mentor for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Program was Chris Bodnar of Close to Home Organics. Our original goal for this mentorship was to develop two business plans – one for a livestock/dairy operation and the other for a cheese-making operation – to see if either would be viable and at what scale. Using a template and list of questions we formulated with Chris, we began our research on the livestock/dairy operation – gathering information from online sources, reading books and contacting established farm operations in … Continue reading Business Mentorship – Lessons Learned: Plenty Wild Farms

Jan 11: AIRDRIE, AB – Closing the Gap: Creating a More Profitable Business

Posted by Dana Penrice on December 01, 2016

closing-the-gap-2

Registration deadline: Friday, Dec. 2nd This workshop will introduce you to the concept of continuous improvement, a holistic approach to identify sources of waste and overcome specific challenges in your business. It is the start of a journey towards increased business and operational efficiency. Learn how to: maximize your employee asset base establish a preventative maintenance program incorporate the latest technology create a culture of continuous improvement deliver value to your customers What’s in it for you? reduce inefficiencies in your business add value from field to market increase business profitability potential for one-on-one business coaching with an industry expert … Continue reading Jan 11: AIRDRIE, AB – Closing the Gap: Creating a More Profitable Business

BC Business Mentorship Network – Apply Now!

Posted by Kristen Nammour on October 18, 2016

grow your farm - business skills for farmers - apply to the young agrarians business mentorship network

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 farm and are looking for guidance in continuing to grow your business? Young Agrarians is excited to be offering a third season 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. What You Get! As a participant in this program you will receive 35-40 hours of one-on-one mentorship … Continue reading BC Business Mentorship Network – Apply Now!

November 8: VERNON, BC – Growing Your Farm Business Workshop

Posted by Moss Dance on October 11, 2016

farm business

Join us for a full day workshop and start growing your farm business from the ground up!  Learn about growing into better marketing, human resources and loans for your farm with Clint Ellison and Rob Short. This workshop is delivered in partnership with Community Futures North Okanagan Details NOVEMBER 8, 9 AM – 4 PM Community Futures Vernon – 3105 33 St –  3rd Floor Community Boardroom COST: $20 REGISTRATION: click here Agenda Clint Ellison, AGRI 9:00 AM – 12:00PM business strategy marketing strategy production economics human resources financial management social responsibility succession planning business structure risk management * In addition, explore possible definitions … Continue reading November 8: VERNON, BC – Growing Your Farm Business Workshop