Farm Business Tools
Our goal is for new and young farmers to develop the skills they need to become viable! Young Agrarians works to empower new farmers to learn business skills by aggregating resources (scroll down below, and visit the U-MAP) and tools. In B.C., we offer an annual farmer-2-business mentorship program for new farms in start-up.
B.C. Business Mentorship Network
Young Agrarians offers a limited number of business mentorships annually to a diverse array of new farms to support skills development to run ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, we create customized mentorships to support the needs of new farms in start-up.
Did you miss our 2018/2019 application deadline? Check back October 2019 to apply for the 2019/2020 season.
Whether you need business basics or strategic planning for long-term growth, Young Agrarians knows that gaining business development skills is one of the biggest challenges facing new farmers. Our aim is to provide new farmers with an opportunity to build their business knowledge and use it to grow their farm operations to achieve long-term viability.
Mentees will receive approximately 35-40 hours of mentorship, and will be paired with mentors over three to four months throughout the winter and early spring. Mentors will help you to analyze your operations and chart a course to move forward towards financial sustainability. Mentorships will be by phone, email, and where possible site visits and in-person meetings.
To support you to grow a sustainable farm business! Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, we aim to nurture educational spaces that allow new farmers to work out how to overcome obstacles and achieve business goals. Ultimately, we want to see you produce an increase in: crop yields, revenues, and where possible, area of land in production.
- Commit to participating in 35-40 of mentorship hours over the course of 3-4 months.
- Participate in orientation sessions, webinars, and closing session.
- Complete an evaluation at the end of the program.
- Must submit prior year financials, land in production, and volume of food produced.
- After mentorship and season is complete, must submit end of production season financials, land in production, and volume of food produced.
- Must complete two blog posts, one in the Spring either during or after Mentorship hours are wrapped up, and one in the fall of 2019.
- Resource Map – add your farm and 1-3 of their favourite resources to the Young Agrarians U-Map: https://maps.youngagrarians.org/
- Fill out the BC Ecological Farmers Survey – to be completed upon acceptance into the program, while drinking a pot of tea: https://youngagrarians.org/survey/
- Mentees must also support the creation of a work schedule with their mentor.
- $100 program fee to be paid on acceptance into mentorship network.
All applicants must be residents of British Columbia.
Priority will be given (but not limited to) to new entrants into agriculture ages 18-35, having been in operation for less than 3-5 years.
Applications will be peer-reviewed. Every effort will be made to provide all applicants with a match. Successful placement is determined by the number of mentors available with the appropriate skills and know-how relevant to your farm operation.
Funding for the Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network in 2019 has been provided by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Vancity and Columbia Basin Trust. Young Agrarians generously thanks our funders!
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 with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to see what business resources are available in your region? See what’s on the UMAP!
BUSINESS PLANNING | WEB TOOLS | PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS | FINANCE | MARKETING | HUMAN RESOURCES | FARMINARS
One Page Business Planning – Create a thirty minute business plan! This is a simple visioning and goal setting worksheet to help you set farm business objectives, plan measurable goals and the actions to get you there!
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
Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book – Farm Business Planning ‘Lite’ This workbook 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 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.
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 start up to supplement the general business planning guides found online with the B.C. perspective as well as hints and insights into how to best develop your farm enterprise plan.
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 the full run down of these CSA Management & Direct Sales tools and more read Chris Bodner’s review of each here: Tools for Small Farms
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 ($)
A supply chain platform for managing wholesale customers’ orders, deliveries, and payments through a web based software ($)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) – Skip to Unit 2 to download cash flow template.
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!
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.
PracticalFarmers.org – Ongoing winter series every Tuesday evening! Sort archives by topic or farm priorities.
Agriwebinar.com – Farm Management Canada’s amazing database of ag sector information!
Posted by Melanie Buffel on September 10, 2019
What is your name, where do you farm, and who are your mentors? My name is Kim Watt and I run Thimble Hill Orchard and Nursery, just outside Nelson B.C. My business mentor is Chris Bodnar of Close to Home Organics in Abbotsford, and my production mentor is Richard Walker of Silver Moon Food Forest in Osoyoos. What do you farm? I grow edible and useful perennial plants through my nursery, and will be selling produce from the orchard once our young trees come into production. The orchard includes nut trees, fruit trees, berries, herbs, and perennial vegetables that are … Continue reading B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Thimble Hill Orchard and Nursery →
Posted by Michalina Hunter on September 06, 2019
Community Futures Wildfire Business Transition Program Business and Not-For-Profit Training The Wildfire Business Transition – Self-Directed Training Program is intended to help businesses and not-for-profits (organizations) impacted by the 2017 wild fire season to identify their training needs and provide financial and advisory support to meet those needs. Courses such as the “The Market Gardener’s Master Class” with Jean-Martin Fortier can be paid for, if completed by Nov 15, 2019. For a list of more information and eligible communities, click the document below: How to apply and find if a certain training is eligible: Application forms are available at cfwildfire.ca Contact … Continue reading Training Courses Covered Through Wildfire Recovery Program in BC →
Posted by Alex on August 16, 2019
The inaugural 1st Generation Farmers Conference was a day of great connections and great ideas! More than 50 farmers, aspiring farmers, and farm supporters drove out to Rosy Farms, where we gathered to learn about marketing, business planning, building community, and everything in between. Although it was a cool August day, we made the most of it by enjoying our delicious lunch around a campfire. This feast featured local Alberta producers including Ruby Apron, Steve & Dan’s BC Fruit, Herbologie , Chicks-n-chaps, Rosy Farms, Reclaim Organics, Meuwly’s, Confetti Sweets, The Northern Table, and MoJo JoJo. … Continue reading 1st GENERATION FARMERS CONFERENCE RECAP →
Posted by Michalina Hunter on July 26, 2019
Have you checked your website and packaging to ensure it’s aligned with the new Organic Certification Regulation? A new Organic Certification Regulation came into effect in BC on September 1, 2018. The term “organic” is now a protected label within BC. This means producers and processors must have organic certification from an accredited certification body if they want to make any sort of organic claim on a product, including “grown following organic principles”, or “made with organic ingredients”. Claims such as “uncertified organic” or “more than organic” are not permitted. Greater clarity around what organic means is something consumers in … Continue reading New Farmers: Here’s What You Need to Know About Organic Marketing in BC →
Posted by Hailey Troock on July 26, 2019
One of the most common questions we hear from new farmers and producers in the Kootenays is about how to get their products into the local market. The Kootenay Co-op is an important sales channel for locally produced food in the Kootenays through the True Local Program. Our Columbia Basin Land Matcher, Hailey Troock, interviewed Nadine BenRabha, the True Local Program Coordinator, to learn more about how farmers and food producers can sell through the Kootenay Co-op. What started in 1975 as a food buying club run by volunteers in the Slocan Valley has since blossomed into a community-owned store that has almost … Continue reading How to Sell your Products through the Kootenay Co-op’s True Local Program →
Posted by Michalina Hunter on July 12, 2019
Give your progressive food business a leg up with Feeding Growth. Feeding Growth’s Scale Your Progressive Food Business is a five-part workshop series that provides practical tips to environmentally progressive, organic, ethical, and socially responsible packaged goods companies at critical stages of expansion. Feeding Growth alumni include award-winning businesses such as Wize Monkey, Spread’em Kitchen and Tree Island Yogurt. The five workshops follow the proven Feeding Growth recipe: personable and caring food industry mentors share advice, participants engage in hands-on exercises, and the series culminates with a keynote event celebrating our graduates and the local food movement. Each workshop focuses … Continue reading SEPT-NOV, 2019: VANCOUVER, BC – SCALE YOUR PROGRESSIVE FOOD BUSINESS →
Posted by Kolby Peterson on June 24, 2019
Are you a farmer looking to hire and mentor a young, new, or aspiring farmer? The Youth Employment and Skills Program is providing funding for the creation of agricultural internships to youth and youth facing barriers. This is a program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and employers across the agriculture sector may apply for funding to hire Canadians, age 15 to 30. Approved projects will be eligible to receive 50% of total eligible costs, up to a maximum of $14,000 in matching funds. For those hiring youth facing barriers, 80 percent of total eligible costs up to $14, 000 may … Continue reading Opportunity: Funding Program for Agricultural Internships →
Posted by Alex on June 13, 2019
Are you a 1st generation farmer looking to connect with a strong community of friends and mentors? Do you want to make your farm business more resilient by improving your financial plan and communication strategies? Are you an urbanite itching to get your boots on the ground but don’t know where to start? Join us at the 1st Generation Farmer Conference to get relevant, ready-to-apply farm knowledge from a fantastic line up of speakers and to meet other passionate farmers in Alberta! Farmers, food lovers, and the farm-curious of all ages are all invited! When: Saturday, August 10, 2019 Where: Rosy … Continue reading AUGUST 10, 2019: ALCOMDALE, AB – 1st Generation Farmer Conference →
Posted by Melanie Buffel on June 10, 2019
Stuart Basset is one of ten participants in the 2018/2019 YA Business Mentorship Program. His business is aptly named Peninsula Kiwi as he is growing kiwis in the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. Stuart is new to the area and has developed a profit sharing arrangement with the landowner and is taking the stewardship of the land very seriously. Stuart’s inspiration to grow kiwis comes from growing up on a farm in New Zealand, a love for working with plants and literally being able to seeing the fruits of his labour. Peninsula Kiwi is the first business Stuart has run and he applied for the Young Agrarian … Continue reading B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Feature on Peninsula Kiwi →
Posted by Michalina Hunter on April 24, 2019
Do you do incorporate any value-added activity in your business? The Small Scale Food Processor Association is carrying out a project to determine needs for financing at all stages of business development. Please contribute with your experiences! “We have heard over the years that finding financing to start up and to grow is one of the major issues facing small scale food processors. The more we know about you and your business, the better we will be able to understand financing needs. Once we have a clear picture of the issues small scale food processors face, we will be working with financing … Continue reading SURVEY: Financing for Value-Added Processors →