Young Agrarians is celebrating the eighth 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 2022 Mentee Cohort have been working and planning with the support of their Mentors and we are thrilled to profile them and wish them lots of success for the year ahead!
Watch out for applications to open again in fall of 2022!
My name is Thanushi Eagalle and my farm is Wild Bee Florals. My Mentors are Molly and Zac from Bullock Lake Farm.
Where do you farm? Please include the traditional territory acknowledgement if you know it.
I am located in Dove Creek – Courtenay – Vancouver Island – BC. Wild Bee Florals respectfully acknowledges that we are standing on the Unceded traditional territory of the K’òmoks First Nation.
What do you farm?
We grow specialty cut flowers.
What inspired you to get into farming?
I appreciate the visual and tactile experience of growing. Also being a farmer florist allows me to connect science, art and culture into an offering for our community.
What did you do to learn how to farm?
I experimented in urban sites in Vancouver while having a different full time job. I also took some online courses and had a network of farmer friends to bounce ideas off of.
What types of ecological farm practices do you use?
We are moving towards no till beds, we make sure our soil is covered when not in use, we use drip irrigation, don’t use any pesticides and pay attention to our packaging of product as well. We essentially grow organically without the organic certification.
What type of business structure is your farm?
I am currently operating as a sole proprietorship. Wild Bee Florals is also a part of the Wilder Farm Collective with a few growers growing collaboratively at the same farm.
How much land is under production on your farm?
What is your land tenure?
We grow on leased land.
Why did you apply for business mentorship?
It’s always great to have multiple mentors for projects. With the survival chance for many farm endeavours being quite low, I wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to ensure the success of our business. USDA stats – 300 farmers go out of business every week, 80% out of business by year 2, only 2% are around at year 5.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a new farmer?
The biggest challenge is the steep learning curve of running a business while also farming. There are so many things that farm business owners need to do (growing, marketing, design, delivery, communications, etc) so figuring out a rhythm that works with your lifestyle can be challenging at first.
What is your primary business goal for the season?
My primary business goal this year is to explore the “Floral Experiences” side of the business by offering workshops and doing more event based work. Really focusing on making sure our local community also feels invested in the success of this farming venture by offering them opportunities to connect with the land we grow on.
What business tools could you not live without?
Laptop – excel.
If you had a farming robot what would it be?
It would be able to scan sections of the soil and tell me about the ecosystem that exists there and how to amend it to grow specific crops so will enhance the local biodiversity as well.
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 and Columbia Basin Trust.