Business Mentorship Network – Gemma McNeill and Doug Zaklan

Posted by Kristen Nammour on February 13, 2015 1 Comment

Name? Gemma McNeill and Doug Zaklan

Where do you farm? Surrey, BC

What do you farm? Mixed vegetables, flowers, pastured laying hens (friendly llama)

What type of business structure is your farm? Partnership

What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this? Doug’s family land, no formal agreement. We are talking about putting a lease together to formalize this agreement for the coming season.

Zacklan Farm BW

How did you seriously get into farming? I started farming at the UBC farm in 2008. Doug did the practicum program in 2011. I joined Doug to help build ZHF in 2013. It’s been an evolution of seriousness. I think this project is the most serious for both of us as it’s completely ours.

Why did you apply for the YA Business Mentorship Network? It’s an incredible opportunity to be connect with farming mentors of this calibre who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with new farmers. There is always so much to learn and gain for these kinds of relationships. We had a really positive experience in 2014 and wanted to build on the skills gained there.

What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer? Finding time to figure out how to keep proper records/run a business while also growing a farm. We are now at the stage where we want to start actually seeing some money from the business, which means taking bigger risks in terms of investments. Finding the confidence to make this growth happen and fully commit to the farm in this way is scary. It helps to have someone who’s been there guide you through it.

What are your business goals for the season? We want to increase our sales by about 50%, double our CSA shares, include restaurants as part of our marketing outlet and build our on farm market. We’d like to be able to pay ourselves some money during the season as well.


What business tools could you not live without? Quickbooks, it’s now keeping track of everything for me (although sometimes I also hate it).

If you had a farming super power what would it be? Endless energy and for my body to never fail. Or have laser beams that only killed weeds.

What is your favourite farm book? The market gardener- Jean Martin Fortier, right now I use it as a reference for lots of things as we are looking to farm at a similar scale to him.

BONUS: How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products?, facebook: zaklanheritagefarm, instagram:@zaklanheritagefarm, twitter: @zaklanfarm

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.