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:

BUSINESS BOOTCAMP – This online, community-based program will give you the space and skills to write a stellar business plan for the farm of your dreams. The Business Bootcamp will cover everything from writing a mission statement to creating a financial plan to defining a marketing strategy.

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: business@youngagrarians.org.


Farm Business Tools

BUSINESS PLANNING | WEB TOOLS | PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS | FINANCE | MARKETING | HUMAN RESOURCES | FARMINARS | REGULATION REFERENCES

Business Planning Tools

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:

The Carrot Project – Wild Food Farm Sample Business Plan and Financials

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)

Web Tools

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 ($)

Cropolis
An all-in-one order management platform for direct food sales ($)

Local Orbit
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.

Soil Mate
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!)

Production and Operations Tools

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.

Finance Tools

Farm Finance Glossary – Julia Shanks has an awesome glossary of helpful business and finance terms for farmers and food producers.

Basic Accounting for Farmers Watch Part 1 & Part 2

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.

Marketing Tools

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.

Human Resource Tools

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.

Farminars

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!

Regulations Reference

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.

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BUSINESS BLOG


Growing Change Program

Posted by Michalina Hunter on September 14, 2021

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Growers and Co. to provide small-scale regenerative farmers with equipment, knowledge and financial support so they can better feed their communities and provide access to healthy, locally-grown food through the Growing Change Program.  True change comes from farmer-led, community-based, and boots-on-the-ground innovators. We are here to support the problem-solvers and change-makers working to grow food for their communities. How the Growing Change Program works A portion of each purchase from Growers and Co. goes towards the program, which focusses on long term solutions to create positive impacts on farmers, their communities and the planet. … Continue reading Growing Change Program

Business Bootcamp Speakers

Posted by Alex on September 13, 2021

The Business Bootcamp for New Farmers features a carefully selected team of exceptional speakers that will help you get your farm business off the ground! Learn from these amazing first-generation farmers and business experts. The next Business Bootcamp starts in early October. Make sure to register soon! Note that all these speakers have contributed content to the Business Bootcamp but some may not be present during the live sessions due to scheduling conflicts.  Shelby Montgomery was born and raised in Mohkinstsis, on Treaty 7 land in the settler-city of Calgary. By day, she works for a food access charity. In … Continue reading Business Bootcamp Speakers

Herbs & Heritage With Rachelle Pinto – Business Bootcamp Stories

Posted by Michelle Lam on July 04, 2021

Rachelle Pinto is the mom of 3, and a lover of herbs and heritage. She is based out of Winnipeg, with a small farm located just 20 minutes away, and is passionate about empowering her community by strengthening food security. Rachelle participated in the Young Agrarians Business Bootcamp, a five-week long online program that ran from February to March 2021. She chatted with our Young Agrarians Prairies team about her experience with the Bootcamp and how it intersects with her farm, Planted Allies.  Find Planted Allies on Facebook and Instagram. Like many of us, Rachelle grew up in the public … Continue reading Herbs & Heritage With Rachelle Pinto – Business Bootcamp Stories

Florals with Ashley Currie – Business Bootcamp Stories

Posted by Michelle Lam on June 10, 2021

Bountiful Bay Farm & Nursery is an up and coming farm located in Sooke, BC. Once a week, farm owners Ashley Currie and her partner, Aidan, watched a pre-recorded video with their morning coffee while taking detailed notes from farm experts. These videos were part of the Young Agrarians (YA) Business Bootcamp, a five-week long online course that helps new farmers build their business plans. Ashley spoke with the YA team to talk about her personal experience with the Bootcamp. Ashley’s love for growing things began in university when she started growing plants from seed in her windowsill. She was … Continue reading Florals with Ashley Currie – Business Bootcamp Stories

FUNDING: Organic Conversion Support Program

Posted by Michalina Hunter on June 09, 2021

Funding is available for farmers to support the transition to organic production! The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is thrilled to announce the launch of their new Support Organic Change Fund. With a booming $6.6 billion in sales, Canada is the sixth largest organic market in the world. Yet, demand continuously outpaces supply, despite double digit production growth. Two thirds of Canadians purchase organic products weekly and organic is the fastest growing part of the Canadian agriculture landscape. These facts are both extremely positive for the Canadian organic industry, yet without continued efforts to train organic techniques and support Canadian farmers to … Continue reading FUNDING: Organic Conversion Support Program

How to Select Vegetable Varieties for Greenhouse Growing

Posted by Michalina Hunter on June 04, 2021

How to Select Vegetable Varieties for Greenhouse Growing

Got a new greenhouse or poly tunnel and wondering what varieties to plant? Experiencing issues with low yields or disease in your greenhouse? Check out this interview with Gemma McNeill, Owner-Operator of Zaklan Farm, a suburban microfarm in Surrey, British Columbia. Once you’ve gleaned some wisdom from Gemma, you may want to learn more. We recommend you follow up by reading an outline on how to select vegetable varieties for greenhouse growing, plus recommendations for the best greenhouse tomato, pepper, cucumber, eggplant, and lettuce varieties to try, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Photo above is of Gemma by Zaklan Farm. Greenhouse … Continue reading How to Select Vegetable Varieties for Greenhouse Growing

What is sliding scale payment? Why are we using it?

Posted by Michalina Hunter on May 25, 2021

Thank you to Underground Alchemy, Albany, NY for providing the sample text that this post is based on.  Sliding scale payment is a tool for building economic justice, and it requires your active participation and reflection. The core principle is to provide a price range that makes an event more broadly accessible to people with diverse financial means, while ensuring fair compensation for the organizers and educators. You are asked to pay according to your available resources. When everyone participates in this way, we are able to create a more equitable, diverse, and supportive farming community.  Young Agrarians has been … Continue reading What is sliding scale payment? Why are we using it?

Updates to Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Posting Policy

Posted by Michalina Hunter on May 18, 2021

Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Posting Policy

After some years of debate and discussion, Young Agrarians has decided to require all apprenticeship opportunities we post to be paid. We came to this decision for a few reasons, which we hope will lead to more just and enriching outcomes for both host farmers and apprentices: It is in the best interest of farms to adhere to provincial labour laws to avoid the risk of litigation. Unpaid apprenticeships for farming in many provinces is not allowed, even if in exchange for room and board. There are examples of legal cases for example in B.C. where apprentices received back-pay for … Continue reading Updates to Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Posting Policy

Porcupines, Plants, and People with David Benjestorf – Business Bootcamp Stories

Posted by Michelle Lam on May 17, 2021

When the pandemic hit, David Benjestorf knew he needed to do something to combat the rising food security crisis amongst Edmontonians. As the Vice Chair of the Edmonton Food Bank, he’s familiar with creating solutions for feeding those in need, but hadn’t ever experienced anything quite like the uncertainties of Covid-19. “How would food trucks get across the border? Will there still be volunteers in the warehouse? Will we have to give up fresh food for processed food for a long period of time?”. These are all questions that David worried about. The solution? To grow this much-needed food himself!  … Continue reading Porcupines, Plants, and People with David Benjestorf – Business Bootcamp Stories

Prairie Gold Meats & Meadow Farm Florals: The Perfect Pairing

Posted by Michelle Lam on May 14, 2021

Photo Credit: Ashlea Kooman Location: Tamara Ranch, Red Deer , AB

Prairie Gold Meats & Meadow Farm Florals is based on Treaty 6 and 7 territory, a traditional gathering place, travelling route and home for many Indigenous Peoples including the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina, Stoney Nakoda, traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux. The land is also known in Canadian geography as Forshee, AB.  This case study is a part of Young Agrarians Alberta Land Access Guide, a toolkit for farmers seeking land opportunities. Blake Hall grew up in the City of Red Deer, Alberta and got into farming through the CRAFT Apprenticeship program in Southern Ontario. Having caught a bug for grazing, pasture … Continue reading Prairie Gold Meats & Meadow Farm Florals: The Perfect Pairing