Farm Business Support
Young Agrarians empowers new farmers to develop the business skills they need to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. YAY Farmers!
Check out our programs, tools and resources below and come back often for updates:
B.C. BUSINESS MENTORSHIP NETWORK – Are you a young (or young at heart) animal or vegetable producer living in British Columbia? Are you operating a new farm and looking for guidance to grow your business? The B.C. Business Mentorship Network pairs new and seasoned farmers together to cultivate foundational business and production skills. Mentors work with you to analyze your operations and lay the groundwork for your farm’s business growth.
ON THE UMAP – See what farm business resources are available in your geographical region!
BUSINESS BLOG – We love to showcase new and young farmers from our Business Mentorship Network, as well as provide insight and information on resources to support you towards success on your farm.
FARM BUSINESS TOOLS – Check out a few of our favourite farm business planning resources below. Have a business tool you love? Have you come across a resource that has helped you streamline your farm finances or operations? Share it by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUSINESS PLANNING | WEB TOOLS | PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS | FINANCE | MARKETING | HUMAN RESOURCES | FARMINARS | REGULATION REFERENCES
Business Model Canvas – Think of it as a tool to map out and visualize your farm business. Get a clear vision of your customers, your offerings, and the infrastructure necessary to bring your products to market. Here’s a great walk through of the exercise: THE 20 MINUTE BUSINESS PLAN: BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS MADE EASY
Smart Farm BC – This website is a Ministry of Agriculture business resource website covering AgriBIZ from A-Z!
New Farm Start Up: A Guide to Starting and Growing A Small or Medium Sized Farm Business in British Columbia – This guide from the BC Ministry of Agriculture offers resources for new farmers in addition to the general online business planning guides. Offers hints and insights into how to best develop your farm enterprise plan with a B.C. perspective.
Farmer Resource Library – From the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in the US this digital library has hundreds of resources on sustainable farming, marketing, and operating a successful small business.
Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book – Farm Business Planning ‘Lite’. This workbook from Oregon State University will take you through the basics of business planning but it pays to delve deeper once you’ve outlined your plan here. Print this workbook out!
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for a Farm or Rural Business – This workbook from the Minnesota School for Sustainable Agriculture provides a more comprehensive examination of your business idea, marketing strategies, operations, human resources, and financial needs of your farm venture. A bank is going to want to see a business plan along these lines along with more detailed financial information.
Sample Farm Business Plans:
Persephone Brewing – Hops Farming Business Plan Template (very well designed!)
Futurepreneur – Agricultural Enterprise Template (another hops plan but can easily be tailored to your enterprise)
For a review of CSA Management & Direct Sales farm software tools read Chris Bodnar’s: Tools for Small Farms. To learn more about E-Commerce options read Hailey Troock’s: DIY Website Toolkit for Farmers & Food Producers: Ecommerce Tricks, Tips & Tools.
Harvest Hand CSA Platform
Web based CSA membership management, built in website, integrated newsletter & social media, and e-commerce platform. Annual cost is $10 per CSA member. Built in Nova Scotia ($)
Farmigo CSA Management Software
Streamlines the management of selling, packing, and distribution of your CSA ($)
Harvie (formerly Small Farm Central)
Developed by Small Farm Central, provides web based CSA member management software ($)
An all-in-one order management platform for direct food sales ($)
A supply chain platform that allows for individual to sell and multiple producers to aggregate sales, manage customers’ orders, deliveries, and payments through a web based software ($)
Mail Chimp E-Newsletters
An email marketing service provider that allows you to easily manage your newsletter subscriptions with a full suite of analytics for tracking sign-ups, opens, and traffic to your website.
Soilmate.com is a website that connects consumers with their local food and drink growers, raisers, producers, and supporters. It allows consumers to find specific growers and products, as well as stores and restaurants that support those local growers and carry/use their products. For farmers this is a great way to have a web presence and e-commerce abilities without the process of building a website! (Free for Farmers!)
ATTRA Master Publications List – A wealth of knowledge! Peruse ATTRA’s database of more than 300 easy-to-read 1-2 page publications covering organic production, livestock, horticultural crops, business and marketing, farm energy, water and pest management and more. Publications are written by sustainable agriculture specialists, who are experts in their fields.
COG Pro provides an online solution to the detailed record-keeping required for Organic Certification.
VeggieTables is perfect for small to mid-size organic farms because it has all of the features of COG-Pro with a few additional features, like labour and expense tracking.
AgSquared attempts to bring together a range of functions from farm mapping and crop planning to record keeping and harvest records.
Farmbrite has a more holistic take on farm software. You can track livestock, crops, equipment, accounting and more.
Seeding Manual (Roxbury Farm, NY) – This manual describes, crop- by- crop, how each is seeded, transplanted, protected, and cultivated. Don’t be overwhelmed by it’s completeness! Strive to start with your three favourite crops and build on it each season. Think of how helpful this tool would be to new employees or apprentices!
Harvest Manual (Roxbury Farm, NY) – This manual outlines, crop-by-crop, harvest procedures, ready-to-harvest indicators, packing and washing procedures, and storage conditions. By streamlining your harvesting and packing procedures your operations become more efficient and you build value into your product through high quality standards.
Farm Finance Glossary – Julia Shanks has an awesome glossary of helpful business and finance terms for farmers and food producers.
Getting Started with Quickbooks for Farmers (part 1)- The Carrot Project & Julia Shanks team up again to review the basic accounting concepts that underlie QuickBooks and go through the basic set-up of the online software. Download the slides.
Quickbooks for Farmers: Expenses & Sales (part 2) – This session takes the user through entering sales and expenses as well as how to use classes and customers to review profitability of sales channels. Download the slides.
Organic Price Tracker – Canadian Organic Growers publishes the regional prices of certified organic products sold at farmers’ markets and wholesale markets across Canada. Perfect resource for crop planning, enterprise budgeting and cash flow exercises!
Farm Cash Flow Statement (Explanation) – Skip to Lecture #3 for explanation of cash flow template.
Farm Cash Flow Statement (Template) – Referenced in Lecture #3 above.
Enterprise Budgets – These enterprise budgets have been designed by KPU’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems and cover Vegetable, Animal, and Specialty Crop Budgets. An enterprise budget is a helpful tool because it projects the costs and returns of growing and selling a particular crop or livestock over a period of time.
BC Association of Farmers’ Markets Toolkit – Get the low down on best business practices for Farmers’ Market farmers with these resources from the BCAFM, including case studies and best management practices.
Understanding Consumer Behaviour at Farmers Markets: An Innovative Approach to Increasing Sales – Get a primer in retail science and consumer behaviour to see how you can encourage customers to buy more of your product at farmers markets.
47 Royalty Free Vegetable Images for Download – From A to Zucchini! Your website, newsletters and facebook page could use a little pizazz.
Write a Better End of Season Customer Survey – If you haven’t ever checked in with your customers at the end of a season you’re missing out on valuable feedback that you should incorporate into the next season’s planning. Take a few ideas from this article and adapt them to your marketing channels whether its a CSA or restaurant and retail customers!
Canada Organic Trade Association – COTA produces valuable market reports for the Canadian organic industry. From the flagship Canadian Organic Market Report to specialized reports like Organic Food Processing, this research equips businesses and policy makers with valuable market insights and trends for the sector.
PRIZM 5 Market Analysis Tool – Demographic and psychographic snapshot of Canadian postal codes. Get an idea of what kind of consumers live in your target market.
Guide to Developing a BC Agricultural Employee Handbook – Smart Farm BC has put together a easy to follow guide for developing an employee handbook. Whether you’ve got a few WWOOFers or dozens of employees it is important to establish guidelines and set parameters for working on your farm to protect both your employees, yourself, and your business.
Stone Barns Centre for Food and Agriculture has a wealth of farming focused educational videos from farm business management to soil biology and small engine maintenance.
PracticalFarmers.org – Ongoing Farminar winter series every Tuesday evening! Sort archives by topic or farm priorities.
Agriwebinar.com – Farm Management Canada’s amazing database of ag sector information!
Farm Practices Protection – Land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, areas where land is zoned by local governments for farming, and licensed aquaculture areas, represent locations in B.C. where farming is a priority and specifically permitted.
Farm Land Classification – Receiving Farm Classification reduces property tax rates through BC Assessment mechanisms. Learn about the eligibility requirments and application process.
Agricultural Environmental Management – On February 28, 2019, a new regulation called the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM Code) came into effect. The new AEM Code applies to all agricultural operations in British Columbia, from small hobby farms to large commercial operations.
PST exemption for Farmers – As a qualifying farmer, you may purchase or lease specifically listed farm equipment and other goods exempt from PST. You must either have a BC Farmer Identity Card or fill out this exemption form.
WCB and Farms – Understand your obligations as an employer to plan for the safety of workers on your farm and register your employees for workers compensation. Information on rates, remittance and claim processes.
BC Chicken Marketing Board – licences broiler quota holders in BC and primary poultry processors. As a small producer you must apply for a permit to raise up to 2000 chickens a year for farm direct sales. Having less than 200 chickens for personal use does not require a permit.
Posted by Alex on May 14, 2020
How To Farm a Vacant Urban Lot. Photo credit: TOPSOIL Are you living in the city but find yourself aching to farm? Urban agriculture may be just the right fit for you! But wait…how do you even find enough land to start a farm in the city? That’s where vacant lots come in to the picture. This post is all about how you can find a vacant lot and things to consider when starting an urban farm! So, what is a vacant lot? A vacant lot is classified as a registered lot (serviced or unserviced) that contains no permanent structures … Continue reading How To Farm a Vacant Urban Lot →
Posted by Melanie Buffel on April 29, 2020
Software Tools for Small Farms This article was originally written by Chris Bodnar, and was published in COABC’s BC Organic Grower, Volume 16, Number 3, Summer, 2013. It has since been expanded and updated by YA staff. Find more farm business resources on our FARM BUSINESS TOOLS PAGE Many organic farms have a special binder. The binder holds field records, crop plans, a multitude of to-do lists and miscellaneous notes. The binder is sacred; should it ever go missing, the following year’s organic inspection would be a nightmare. The farm’s operations depend on a bundle of papers that, with one drop in … Continue reading Small Farm Software Tools →
Posted by Moss Dance on April 26, 2020
WAGE SUBSIDY PROGRAMS FOR FARMS Are you a farm looking for a wage subsidy to hire labour? Here are five federally funded programs to consider. For a youth to qualify to be hired using one of these programs, they cannot be accessing a wage subsidy through another federally funded program. This is a one wage subsidy program per employee opportunity. ECO CANADA This program will cover up to 50% of a student’s wages to $5,000 when employers hire the brightest minds in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math (STEAM) and Business. Funding is for paid work terms. Work terms can be full time or … Continue reading Wage Subsidy Programs for Farms →
Posted by Hailey Troock on April 21, 2020
20 minute read Are you looking to move your business online, transition from what you’re currently using, or integrate Point of Sale with your online sales for your farm or food business? This article will provide a toolkit for farmers and food producers who would like to build or manage their own online business, or be better equipped to work with a web or marketing professional. Consultants and agencies can be hired to build your site for you or customize certain aspects of plug-and-play software or standard theme designs. Marketing professionals can help you build out an amazing plan and … Continue reading DIY Website Toolkit for Farmers & Food Producers: Ecommerce Tricks, Tips & Tools! →
Posted by Darcy Smith on April 17, 2020
Have you been dreaming about launching a farm business or adding to your existing operation? The Food Pedalers, a microgreens business in Vancouver B.C., is now for sale! Read on for more info and reach out to email@example.com if you’re interested. The Food Pedalers started in 2009 as an urban microgreens project by Chris Thoreau and was incorporated as a workers’ co-operative in 2013. Since then the Food Pedalers have sold over 30 tons of microgreens and delivered them by bike across the city to dozens of restaurants, grocers, and households while also cycling and car-sharing our way to local farmers markets over … Continue reading FARM BUSINESS FOR SALE – FOOD PEDALERS, Vancouver BC →
Posted by Michalina Hunter on April 06, 2020
Thank you farmers for ensuring our communities have access to safe and nutritious food! We’ve pulled together this list of resources from across the internet to help you and your farm business during this time. Please reach out if you have other ideas for ways we can support you, or if you have other great resources to add to this list. Farm on! Farmers are heroes! Resources for Farmers: 1. Add your farm to the U-Map Add yourself to the U-Map so consumers can find your farm, or ensure your current listing is up to date. Consider including any pickup or delivery information … Continue reading COVID-19 Resources for Farmers →
Posted by Hailey Troock on April 06, 2020
Are you an enterprising farmer looking for support for your business? WorkBC Employment Services has several programs that offer businesses in BC access to grants and subsidies for wage subsidies, infrastructure projects and job creation, to name a few. Read on to find out more about these programs that you may be able to access to help grow your farm dream! Community Employer Partnership The goal of the CEP is to increase employment and work experience opportunities through partnerships, shared information, technology and innovation. The program seeks to fulfill this goal through five streams, which include Job Creation Partnerships, Labour Market Partnerships, … Continue reading WorkBC Support for Enterprising Farmers →
Posted by Melanie Buffel on March 30, 2020
Young Agrarians is celebrating the sixth year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) program. The BMN offers business mentorships to a diverse array of new and young farmers across BC. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, young farmers develop the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts! My name is Amber Rowse-Robinson from Brass Bell Farm and my Mentor is Blake Hall from Prairie Gold Meats in Alberta. Where do you farm? I farm in Sooke, BC. What do you farm? I raise and sell heritage breed grass-fed beef and pastured chicken. What inspired you … Continue reading B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Brass Bell Farm →
Posted by Hailey Troock on March 24, 2020
It’s March 2020 and in the face of a global health crisis, we’re experiencing some supply chain disruptions and an increased local demand for healthy food. It’s more important than ever to support your local farmers! Food producers have had to quickly pivot their business models and sales channels to adapt to the evolving market and regulatory conditions. If you are located in southeastern BC and are looking for ways to connect directly with farmers and food producers in your area, consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for weekly boxes, purchasing online for delivery, pick-up or from your local Farmers’ Markets, … Continue reading Kootenay Farm Directory: Spring 2020 →
Posted by Melanie Buffel on March 23, 2020
Young Agrarians is celebrating the sixth year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) program. The BMN offers business mentorships to a diverse array of new and young farmers across BC. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, young farmers develop the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts! My name is Kate Janeway from Denman Island Heritage Apples and my Mentors are Chris Bodnar from Close to Home Organics and Kent Mullinex, Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at Kwatlan Polytechnic University. Where do you farm? I farm on Denman Island, one of the … Continue reading B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Denman Island Heritage Apples →