B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Thimbleberry Farm

Posted by Melanie Buffel on February 03, 2020

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 Vicky Serafini. My Mentor is Chris Bodnar of Close to Home Organics.

Where do you farm?

Thimbleberry Farm is located in Terrace, BC. We’re nestled in the Skeena Valley, just a short walk away from the mighty Skeena River.

What do you farm?

Our primary operation is a (just less than) ¼ acre market garden. We also raise pastured broilers and rabbits, and also have a small flock of layers.

What inspired you to get into farming?

I have been drawn to farm life from a young age. I’ve always loved animals, gardens, and food, although I didn’t consider it to be a viable career option. While completing a B.A. in International Relations, I came to two impactful realizations: 1. Dominant agricultural practices have played a large role in creating a number of global issues, but different agricultural practices can play an important role in solving those issues, and; 2. The most effective way to make change in the world is to do so at the grassroots level, within your own community.

This really motivated me to pursue a career in small-scale agriculture.

bunny

What did you do to learn how to farm?

Spending time on farms as a teenager was my first education in farming. Once I decided to pursue farming as a career, I read and reread books, watched as many videos as I could find, read blogs, and attended workshops. I did not work on a farm prior to starting my own because circumstances didn’t allow for it, but I think anyone considering farming should try to spend a season getting a feel for it on someone else’s farm.

What types of ecological farm practices do you use?

We are pursuing no-till regenerative agriculture. Although not certified, we do follow the Canadian Organic Standards and Regulations in our farming activities. In 2020, we are focusing on creating as much on-site fertility as possible.

Broadfork for no till field preparation.
Broadfork for no till field preparation.

What type of business structure is your farm?

Thimbleberry Farm operates as a Sole Proprietorship.

How much land is under production on your farm?

We currently have .5 acres under production. That includes a market garden and caterpillar tunnel, layer coop and run, and “pasture “ for chicken and rabbit tractors.

What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this?

My husband and I are lucky enough to own and live on the land we farm.

Why did you apply for business mentorship?

I applied for the business mentorship because within my first year of production, I quickly realized where my weaknesses were in operating a farm. This was primarily in setting up and using record-keeping systems and data analysis for crop planning, yield tracking, and financial management. I also thought that it would be a great way to extend my farm-friend and support network. I was right!

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

The cost of starting a farm was and is challenging, but more importantly, finding information on how to plan and manage finances for the first few years were difficult.

What is your primary business goal for the season?

My primary business goal for 2020 is to create a user-friendly data-collection and financial management system. I feel that having usable data is the key to planning how Thimbleberry Farm will increase production, cashflow, and revenue over the next few years.

What business tools could you not live without?

Spreadsheets. I have, up until now, been a pen-and-paper person. My Mentor has really opened my eyes to the power of spreadsheets, even the simplest ones.

If you had a farming robot what would it be?

I would love to have a robotic seedling thinner. I find thinning carrots to be the most tedious and frustrating of all farm tasks.

How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products? (website, FB, insta, twitter handles)

You can follow along in our farming activities on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thimbleberryeats/

Or follow us on Instagram: @thimbleberryeats

 

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

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