Both the current and entering farmer should develop their independent vision for land, lifestyle, finances, family, legacy, farming, etc. Then, conversations begin that centre on each party’s vision and move towards aligning on a common vision. Establishing clear, constructive communication at this stage is essential.

Before you can develop a vision for the future, you must orient yourself in where you are now. This will help you understand what your needs are, your next steps, gaps in skills or knowledge, and where you need support. Setting your personal vision starts before you initiate formal planning for transition, but your vision will likely need to evolve over time. It takes time to explore what is possible, so don’t rush this. Be honest and open with yourself and anyone else involved in the vision-setting process.

Non-Family Transition, female farmer envisions the future with an abundant farm ecosystem in the background

The different elements of your vision can explore finances, environmental stewardship, affordability, culture, legacy, community impact, etc. Your vision will become your anchor through the rocky seas of the transition process. It should answer the questions: what do you want, and what do you need the transition plan to give you? For example, “I want my land to keep being farmed” is different from “I need to keep farm status,” and similarly “I want to stay involved at a decision-making level” is different from “I need to be able to draw a base income of $X from the farm business to subsist on.” It may start broad, but should develop into something more specific and concrete.

Permaculture uses a concept called the eight forms of capital to broaden our understanding of the financial system to include non-monetary forms of capital. For example, relationships have social capital, and land has living capital that brings value beyond the price it commands on the real estate market. These eight forms of capital can be a helpful way to think about your personal vision. When outlining your personal vision, think about each form of capital and use that to express what is most important for you to achieve during the transition process:

  • Social: the network of people that support you (e.g. friends, coworkers, family, neighbours)
  • Material: non-living, physical objects that you have access to (e.g. house, fencing, tractor)
  • Financial: money that you can use (e.g. savings, income)
  • Living: all the living beings that you interact with (e.g. farm animals, soil organisms, forage)
  • Cultural: shared internal and external process of a community (e.g. traditions, songs, art)
  • Experiential: skills you acquire through practice (e.g. carpentry, butchering, bookkeeping)
  • Intellectual: knowledge you gain (e.g. degree/certificate, taking courses, reading books)
  • Spiritual: practices and beliefs that affirm your worldview (e.g. meditation, prayer)
  • Read more about the eight forms of capital here: appleseedpermaculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/8_Forms_of_Capital_PM68.pdf

The following sections highlight considerations and questions for current farmers and entering farmers to help you reflect and begin to form your vision. At the end of this section you’ll find the tool “Setting Your Vision”, which is intended to help both current and entering farmers document their vision.

Embracing the Cycle of Change
To Future Generations: Legacy Letters
Considerations: Current Farmer
Considerations: Entering Farmer
Finding a Successor
Building a Common Vision: Communication and Relationships



Continue to STAGE 2: Assessing Feasibility
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