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 Ashala Daniel from Sapo Bravo Organics and my mentor is DeLisa Lewis from Green Fire Farm.
Where do you farm?
I farm outside Lytton, BC.
What do you farm?
Half my farm is tree fruit (cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, apples and pears) and half is heat loving ground crops – tomatoes, eggplant, hot peppers, zucchini, melons, basil, winter squash, beans, onions, cucumber and cardoon.
What inspired you to get into farming?
I have spent most of my working life in administration, but most of my spare time in the garden. I was terribly unhappy in the office and heard about Richmond Farm School and jumped at the chance to learn about small-scale growing. That course led to farming for 3 years in Richmond and the search for my own land to continue farming on. I purchased Sapo Bravo Organics in January of 2015 and here I am – living my dream!
What did you do to learn how to farm?
I went to Richmond Farm School in 2012 and then farmed on incubator land in Richmond for 3 years with 2 business partners. We formed a canning CSA called Three Feet Below.
What types of ecological farm practices do you use?
I am certified organic. I use crop rotation, cover cropping, minimal tilling, hand weeding and I observe best organic practice for dealing with pests. There is a lot of biodiversity on my farm which encourages a myriad of pollinators and other beneficial insects.
What type of business structure is your farm?
I am a sole proprietor and owner/operator of my farm. Or at least I WILL own it once I’ve paid my mortgage.
How much land is under production on your farm?
Around 5 acres, but it is a very irregular shape so hard to measure.
What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this?
I own the farm and it is an off grid property operated with solar power, passive cooling in a root cellar and minimal machinery use.
Why did you apply for business mentorship?
I felt I needed help getting the business into the shape I wanted it to be in – productive, organized and making me a decent living.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer?
Finding time to do the administrative work necessary to keep things as organized as I want them to be.
What is your primary business goal for the season?
To make and stick to a budget, focus on the crops that I love to grow and make me money and change my farm name to a name that is my own.
What business tools could you not live without?
If you had a farming robot what would it be?
Probably something I could just talk to/give information to and it would record it digitally for record keeping.
How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products? (website, FB, insta, twitter handles)
This program is made possible with the generous funding support of Vancity, Province of British Columbia, and Columbia Basin Trust.