B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Belle-Isle Farm

Posted by Melanie Buffel on May 06, 2021

Young Agrarians is celebrating the seventh year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) program. The BMN offers business mentorships  to a diverse array of new and young farmers across BC. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, young farmers develop the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses.

The 2021 Mentee Cohort are hard at work planning for the season ahead and we are thrilled to profile them and celebrate their efforts!

My name is Christine Sayegh owner of Belle-Isle Farm and my mentor is Robin Tunnicliffe of Sea Bluff Farm. 

Where do you farm?

We are located on the south side of PKOLS on WSÁNEĆ territory.

Outside Victoria, BC on Cordova Bay Road close to Blenkinsop.

What do you farm?

We farm a market garden! This means that on our little acre, we grow a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables mostly for a weekly veggie box production and a farmers market.

What inspired you to get into farming?

Growing up in the city, I knew I wanted to focus my career towards environmentally-sustainable work and I wanted to be outside. Farming came naturally as an answer to my personal interests, career goals, and abundant energy!

What did you do to learn how to farm?

As I became more involved in my university’s urban agriculture center, I started reading more books about farming and gardening. I studied, experimented, and eventually started working on farms to learn how to become a farmer.

Over the years, I think that I have and continue to gain most of my knowledge through working with others, reading and my own curiosity.

What types of ecological farm practices do you use?

I follow all the standards of organic farming practices, while cultivating seasonally-diverse crops in companionship and rotation, contributing to a rich and healthy soil.

What type of business structure is your farm?

I am the sole proprietor of my farm business, but in daily practice, we foster a collaborative and communal non-hierarchical work environment.

How much land is under production on your farm?

We cultivate a little more than 1 acre of land.

What is your land tenure?

The land I farm is tied to the lease of the house I rent. After a year of working together and transition, I took over this land project built by the previous farmer who first broke the ground here.

Why did you apply for YA business mentorship?

I am excited to be part of this community of farmers and to learn from all the various farming and life experiences of everyone.

I particularly am so grateful for all the guidance in the business admin side of running a farm!

What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer?

My main challenge has been the steep hill of learning all the bureaucracy and accounting related to having a farm business.  I am also struggling with how little money I make for how many hours I work in a year. As I settle into business ownership, I am excited for my work to become more efficient and profitable.

What is your primary business goal for the season?

To try to make local organically-grown vegetables more accessible to my local communities while supporting myself in a way that can become more sustainable.

What business tools could you not live without?

Carefully crafted excel spreadsheets!

If you had a farming robot what would it be?

An accountant-bot, for sure!

How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products?

Website: https://www.belleislefarmer.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/belleislefarmer/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belle.isle.farmer/

Find out more about the Business Mentorship Program here

This program is made possible with the generous funding support of Vancity and Columbia Basin Trust.