Business Structure: Barn Raising

Our next step with creating a farm business plan is to look at the various options for structuring a business. This week we’ll learn about different business structures and their pros and cons. We’ll also look at practical next steps for registering a business and the regulations you need to keep in mind. It’ll be quite the “business plan barn raising”!

The Business Structure session will feature three speakers:

Thanu of Wild Bee Florals sees the world through many different lenses, one being the intersection of evolutionary biology and informal education. Her passion for growing flowers bloomed naturally alongside her curiosity for learning about ecosystems around us, especially insect biodiversity. Over the past few years, Thanu has grown flowers for market and floral subscriptions in Vancouver and North Vancouver. At the end of 2020, Thanu moved to the Comox Valley to pursue flower farming full time and co-founded Wilder Floral Collective. You can connect with her through Instagram (@wildbeeflorals), Website ( or Email:

Ellen has lived in Alberta since 2002, and is a mom of two school-age boys. Since moving to Whitecourt in 2014, she’s been involved with the River Talkers Toastmasters Club, and has volunteered with the Whitecourt Woodlands Rodeo committee. With her background as a freelance service operator and education in small business management, Ellen brings to the team digital publishing skills, business plan coaching, marketing strategies, and enthusiasm for sharing information, community-building and economic development. She has been with CFYE since July of 2018.

Seth Leon is the Manager of Co-operative Services at the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. His work focuses on building capacity and raising awareness of the co-operative business structure to accomplish local economic development goals. He holds a masters of development economics from Dalhousie University. Seth volunteers in his community as a board member of the CommunityWise Resource Centre

Please watch the videos and fill out the Business Structure Worksheet for our next session. During the online session we will have a chance to discuss the pros and cons of the various business structures and strategize about the best structure for your farm.

We’ll also have an accountant and lawyer join the live session to answer all your legal and tax questions!

Nathalie Merrill is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner at Rossworn Henderson LLP. What sets Nathalie apart from other accountants is her passion toward helping her clients succeed and reach their goals. Her 17 year experience as an owner/manager of a small business means that Nathalie understands what is involved with being a business owner. Nathalie specializes in the areas of succession, reorganizations and estate planning and is fluent in French and English. She lives on a small acreage in Vernon. In her free time, Nathalie enjoys her kids and grandkids as well as many outdoor activities including mountain biking, paddle boarding, skiing and hiking.

David Benjestorf was born and raised in the Edmonton area before attending university in the USA and then eastern Europe. Coming home to complete a law degree, he decided that central Alberta is a great place to call home. David has practiced corporate/commercial law for 21 years and currently serves as Legal Counsel and Director of Development for a large land developer. In addition, David has owned a variety of small to medium sized businesses and serves on a variety of community Boards, including the Edmonton Foodbank where he serves as Vice Chair. When COVID began to shut down services and threaten food security, David began the Pandemic Planting Project in 2020 planting on his 23 acre property. This community based garden has thus far donated 155,000 pounds of vegetables to people in need, with hopes of expanding into technology based or year round vertical farming.  When not working, you can find Dave farming, building his own equipment, volunteering, learning, travelling and spending time with his two wiener dogs.


Farmer Story – Thanushi Eagalle (Wild Bee Florals)

Business Structure Overview – Ellen MacCormac (Community Futures Yellowhead East)

Co-operatives Overview – Seth Leon (ACCA)


Here are two helpful summaries of accounting impacts and legal considerations for the different business structures.

Business Structure & Accounting Impacts
Legal Considerations When Starting a Business

The worksheet this week helps you to explore the pros and cons of a business structure for your farm business. If you’re not sure yet which business structure you want to go with, you can repeat the exercise for multiple types of business structures.

Business Structure Worksheet (pdf)
Business Structure Worksheet (doc)


Business Setup

Website – Setting Up Your Business (Government of Canada)
Website – Starting a Business (Government of BC)
Website – Nuans Name Search (Government of Canada)
Website – Business Permit & License Search Tool (BizPal)


Course – Starting a Food or Farm Co-operative (Local Food and Farm Co-operatives)
Website – Co-op Creator (Co-operatives First)
Guide – Cultivating Co-ops (BC Co-op)
Guide – Cooperative Farming (Greenhorns)
Guide – Agricultural Co-operatives Start Up Guide (BC Ministry of Agriculture)

Accounting & Taxes

Article – How to File Your Income Tax as a Sole Proprietor (Intuit)
Article – Claiming Start-Up Costs For a New Business (Intuit)
Document – T4002 Self-employed Farming Income (Government of Canada)
Document – Small Farm Chart of Accounts Explained (Beginning Farmer and Rancher)
Document – Tax Loopholes for Farmers (Rossworn Henderson LLP)
Guide – Tax Preparation Toolkit for Farmers (FBC)