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 Tessa Terbasket, I am a syilx Nation member and I own T Diamond Ranch. T Diamond Ranch is located in West Kelowna in the Okanagan. As well my family’s Blind Creek Ranch and summer range is in Cawston in the Similkameen. My mentor is Blake Hall and his farm is Prairie Gold Pasture Meats in Alberta.
What do you farm?
We predominantly raise home grown beef. And we also sell chicken eggs and pork.
What inspired you to get into farming?
I have always loved animals. I also have a special connection to the local ecosystems and watersheds. I believe I can grow my farm to ensure I have minimal impact on the local watershed, wildlife and in some ways enhance the local ecosystems where my cattle graze. I grew up connected to Blind Creek Ranch that has been within my family through many generations. Maintaining my family’s legacy and connection to the land, while being the next generation bringing forward new ways of doing things is important to me. As well food security at a local level is something I have wanted to support and raise awareness to what this means from a syilx perspective – to maintain a reciprocal relationship to those that give us life (the water, plants, animals, fish).
What did you do to learn how to farm?
I really just jumped right into it and am learning while I go. I have good support within my family, community and am finding the local cattle industry is recognizing the need to support new young ranchers. As well this mentorship has been a great support in my learning. I also want to mention I have noticed quite a few other women cattle ranchers growing their business in the valley.
What types of ecological farm practices do you use?
I will strive to find ways to ensure the land I ranch on can rejuvenate, rest and the water be restored. I will utilize my syilx knowledge of the local landscapes and watersheds – which is unique to any type of certified ecological farm practice.
How much land is under production on your farm?
Our homestead, T Diamond Ranch is 10 acres.
What is your land tenure?
My partner and I own the property.
Why did you apply for YA business mentorship?
I found the mentorship opportunity right when I was wanting to make a go of raising beef for a business. As well I was keen to find a network of like-minded farmers and producers to grow with. I have followed Young Agrarians for a couple years over social media and liked their initiatives and mandate.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer?
I am finding my biggest learning curve is perfecting my business plan as I go.
As well with the food industry, there are many challenges that local and small-scale producers have to compete with. There is a growing consumer awareness to support local farmers but I think there is still a ways to go.
As a syilx farmer – there are more unique challenges that require more attention than in this blog. But include historical (forced) loss of prime agricultural land in the valley, loss of grazing range tenures, loss of water rights to settler farmers and impacts to food security.
What is your primary business goal for the season?
My primary business goal for this season is to ensure my production plan is more thought out and efficient. As well ensuring my production plan is interconnected with my financial and marketing planning.
What business tools could you not live without?
Through this mentorship, I have been introduced to holistic management tools for farmers. This framework I find is more aligned with syilx values to ensure my farming practice is centered within my local community, does not impact the local ecosystem and watershed and fulfills my social and economic goals.
If you had a farming robot what would it be?
A tractor. LOL. It is on the shopping list this year.
How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products?
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.