Name? Colleen Popyk
Where do you farm? Darn Tootin Farm near Prospect Lake on Vancouver Island
What do you farm? Here I farm certified organic vegetables.
What type of business structure is your farm? I run my business solo and sell only at one farmer’s market (Moss St. Market) in Victoria.
What is your land tenure? I have a year-to-year lease with the family who’s land I access. My rent is free but we have drawn up a lease agreement so that we have protocol to follow should complications/unforeseen circumstances arise. I believe that the family is truly dedicated to food security on the Island and just want their land to be producing food and contributing to a local food stream. They see me as doing them a favour by maximizing their land and I see them as providing me with the opportunity to chase my goals, it is mutually beneficial.
How did you seriously get into farming? I seriously got into farming in 2011. I began as a farm hand in 2009 but after a few seasons I really became inspired by my employers at Square Root Farm. Seeing them craft and execute their farm plan year after year really inspired me to try my hand at it. It was then that I started engaging deeper with my work and with the knowledge my employers imparted to me.
Why did you apply for the YA Business Mentorship Network? I applied for the YA Business Mentorship Program because through participation with other YA events I know that it is truly committed to the success of small farmers and really do bring community together in a meaningful way that produces results. I knew I would learn from whatever the program could expose me to.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer? My biggest challenge as a new farmer is crafting financial systems that I can follow the entire season and stay organized. I also just need a basic level of financial literacy.
What are your business goals for the season? My business goal for the year is to generate a profit for myself so that I can begin 2016 with a positive cash flow.
If you had a farming super power what would it be? If I had a farming super power it would be a bad rep with the aphids, so bad they wouldn’t even show their pointy little faces round my parts.
Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network Pilot is provided in part by Salt Spring Coffee, Vancity, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.