Lessons Learned: Plenty Wild Farm

Posted by Kristen Nammour on November 22, 2017

We’re checking back in with our B.C. Business Mentorship Network participants to see how their seasons have gone and how mentorship has benefitted them.

The 2017 season certainly kept us on our toes!  It presented a wide array of both challenges and gifts and we are incredibly grateful to have had the mentorship of Chris Bodnar, through the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Program.

Last spring we were anxiously preparing for a wave of change as we planned to make several key changes to our farm’s marketing and production plans while expecting our first child. We had decided to stop raising pigs, discontinue our CSA program and drop one weekend farmers’ market. Meanwhile, we wanted to start a market share program, attend a mid-week farmers’ market, open a staffed farm stand, finance a small tractor and plant a small apple orchard. At the same time, we needed to hire an additional employee to fill in for Alyssa and allow her some form of maternity leave.

We spent a considerable amount of time preparing the business for childbirth and life with child so when Alyssa went into labour on a Thursday in June we had family to watch over the farm and farmer-friends to take our vegetables to market. Felix Bernie Belter-Tanner was born three minutes past midnight on June 10th weighing a hefty 9lbs 9 oz. We are so honoured to be parents and are still adjusting, every day, to life with a farm and a child.

However, most of the planned changes relieved the pressure of being new parents by freeing up our time and creating efficiencies.  The only action we failed to make happen was the farm stand – though it is still on the docket for next year. Not raising pigs felt so good that we sold our entire sheep flock and got out of raising livestock entirely. Attending one farmers’ market on Saturdays, rather than two, uncomplicated weekends and the mid-week farmers’ market helped offset any gross losses (and was an excellent avenue for pushing yellow zucchini).

Not to say that we never took on water. Things always go awry – an employee quit unexpectedly in July, water pipes broke, tools bent, the baby wouldn’t nurse, we planted celtuce….

The difference this year was that the business felt slightly less fragile – like we were a much sturdier ship in a much bigger sh*tstorm!

2015, 2016, & 2017 Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network Pilot is provided in part by Vancity, Salt Spring Coffee, Rotary Hastings Sunrise, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada & the BC Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

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