Young Agrarians is celebrating the sixth 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. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts!
My name is Matthew Carr from Linden Lane Farms and my Mentor is Seann Dory from Salt and Harrow Farm.
Where do you farm?
The farm is located in Krestova, BC (Between Nelson & Castlegar).
What do you farm?
We mainly farm mixed vegetables and small fruits on 4 acres. We also offer a spring nursery featuring edible nursery stock and transplants.
What inspired you to get into farming?
I was interested in plant propagation, mainly the cellular differentiation of tissues into roots, during high school which lead me to developing a small ornamental nursery and landscaping business. As this business grew, I was forced to move my operation to my grandparents farm for more growing space. I began experimenting with vegetable production that same season as I took over the family garden. I had grown up around my mother’s garden and my grandparents farm, but had not considered it a career path or viable business until we were left with a 1000lbs of tomatoes to preserve in the fall. Now that I have seen some of the potential of my farming business, I would say my inspiration is to produce nutrient dense food through the development of sustainable practices.
What did you do to learn how to farm?
I started learning about farming through trial and error, the experiences of my family members and reading books. After starting the farm, I was given the opportunity to study at the University of Saskatchewan, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture majoring in Horticulture and minoring in Soil Science in April of 2019. I am still always learning from other growers at networking events, conferences, online groups, social media and new literature.
What types of ecological farm practices do you use?
We are certified organic (PACS 16-786) and focus on soil health. We are working at improving our soil organic matter through cover cropping, compost and reduced tillage. We have a limited water supply and utilize drip irrigation as much as possible as well as mulches to hold soil moisture and irrigation timers to most efficiently irrigate. Integrated pest management has been important as we utilize cultural practices and rear beneficial insects to mitigate pests, rather than spraying. For the past few years we have been working towards our Eco-Farm Initiative to continually improve other systems around the farm. In 2020, we hope to establish our experimental beneficial hedgerow planting to promote habitat for native pest predators and beneficials as part of our initiative.
What type of business structure is your farm?
Linden Lane is a sole proprietorship business, however it would not be possible without assistance from all my family members.
How much land is under production on your farm?
Our family farm is 150 acres of which I have 4 acres in cultivation for vegetables and small fruits.
What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this?
Currently I lease my acreage from my grandparents who own the land. We are beginning to explore succession planning.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer?
Not being able to keep up with the constant growth and changes within the business/office side of the farm. I have been able to manage by winging it for the past few years but realized it will not be sustainable for my health, relationships and business long term.
What is your primary business goal for the season?
Increase the efficiency of our employees to accomplish more tasks in less time. This will reduce the extra stress put on our family to work after our employees go home.
What business tools could you not live without?
Google Sheets! I utilize it for most of my organizational needs from crop planning, employee management, financial projections and general record keeping. It was very crucial when I was away at university and needed to collaborate with family and staff over the cloud.
If you had a farming robot what would it be?
Market installer! Something you load up with produce the night before and drive to market and sets up your entire display with a push of a button.
How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products?
This program is made possible with the generous funding support of Vancity, Province of British Columbia, and Columbia Basin Trust.