Name? Roger Woo
Where do you farm? The Farmhouse Bard in Surrey, BC
What do you farm? Mixed vegetables. I’m excited to be doing more asian greens this year.
What type of business structure is your farm? Sole proprietorship.
What is your land tenure? I’m currently growing on leased land. I was part of Young Agrarians’ pilot land matching programme and while leasing has its own share of challenges, it has also been rewarding in ways I could never have foreseen at the outset. Good drainage, fertile ground, and fine tilth: my farm is none of those things. But what I do have is the most supportive community of neighbours I could have ever hoped for. Without their help and support, my farm would definitely not exist in the way that it does today.
What inspired you to get into farming? My love of food has taken me all over the world. When I was younger, my sister and I would literally plan vacations around meals. As I got older, I started cooking in restaurants, and slowly worked my way up the food chain. Farming just seemed like such an easy and logical progression to things. In a restaurant, my goal was to always find amazing product and try not to mess with it between taking delivery and plating. Farming is not so different. Seeds are, after all, predisposed to grow. The trick I find is merely to get out of their way between planting and harvesting.
Why did you apply for business mentorship? While I had a strong intuition around how to grow food, I lacked the skills around marketing and was looking for somebody to break down the process of selling in a way that helped me understand where my skills were lacking. An unexpected and wonderful benefit so far is that I now have a functional book-keeping system! That alone was causing me so much headache last season.
What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer? Farming by myself, labour is probably the greatest limiting factor. I’m not great at sales and it takes so much of my time! I’m constantly balancing where I spend my time vs trying to buy time with money and understanding how my skillset fits within that puzzle.
What is your primary business goal for the season? I’d like to pay myself 1000$ a month.
What business tools could you not live without? Probably Quickbooks? I’m new to it this year, but it’s completely transforming my fear of bookkeeping!
If you had a farming robot what would it be? Probably a sun-stick… something I can shake to bring about sunstorms. Or maybe a personal chef? Finding time to cook / eat is challenging (and ironic).
How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products?
My website is www.thefarmhousebard.com and I’m on instagram @thefarmhousebard
But I much prefer analog to digital! This summer, I’ll be at the UBC farmer’s market, and the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver on Sundays.
Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network in 2018 has been provided by Vancity, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia, and the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Thank you to our funders.