ABOUT THE FARM
City Beet Farm is a multi-site urban farm that was established in Vancouver, BC in 2013. We grow vegetables and flowers on front and backyards in Mount Pleasant, Riley Park and Southlands, with our current growing space being a little under 0.5 acre. City Beet is a unique farming model focused on building urban food security and community engagement. City Beet sells produce primarily through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model in addition to a weekly pop-up market in partnership with The Federal Store, and wholesale relationships.
Since 2016, City Beet has been co-owned and operated by us–Madelaine (Maddy) Clerk and Elana Evans. As farmers, we have a strong sense of commitment to land and believe that to grow good food and feed communities, we must take great care of the soil. Outside of City Beet, Elana is a graduate from the UBC farm practicum and holds a Masters in Soil Science from UBC, while Maddy has a Bachelors of Commerce and CPA designation.
We feel it is important to note City Beet Farm is a vibrant and thriving business. We have thoroughly enjoyed working on this together for the last 4 years. It has provided us with tremendous learning opportunities, growth, and very meaningful relationships with members of the community. We are sad to let it go, but have decided that it is time to move on to other projects. A major reason being Elana had a baby in August 2020, and both she and Maddy would like to pursue farming projects in a more rural context. City Beet Farm has been a wonderful stepping stone for us in our business management and farm operating journey.
FARM LAND AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Since 2013, City Beet has grown a diversity of vegetables on homeowner’s properties throughout the Mount Pleasant and Riley Park neighbourhood. The sites have historically been concentrated close together for efficiency as the farm was first operated by bicycle. We have since expanded to include a truck and mobile cooler facility, which enables us to farm beyond our original “catchment”. In March 2019, we converted ~11,000 sqft of land in Southlands into a farm site. This approximately doubled our growing capacity and enabled us to expand our CSA veggie box subscription program, our flower production, and the frequency/size of our markets.
With the addition of the Southlands site, the farm took on a new level of success. Having one large farm site in addition to our smaller neighbourhood sites allowed us to offer a wider diversity of crops and grow a few spatially-intensive fall storage crops that previously we could not justify the growing space for. Our smaller sites continue to be key for growing our higher rotation crops and, most importantly, engaging the community.
In the Spring of 2019, we converted a carport (12×20 ft) into a greenhouse for our transplants and a place to cure garlic, onions and squash. It is unheated and, therefore, we start all of our early season trays under indoor grow lights. This indoor set-up is also included in the City Beet sale package. We have added a removable reflective insulation to the greenhouse to help keep nighttime temperatures up in the early season and extend its use.
We’ve also included in the sale a small ( 6×12 ft ) second greenhouse, where you can run an extension cord and heater, if you wish to start trays in this space. This greenhouse is easily moveable and there are various suitable spaces for it throughout the farm sites that would offer power and good sunlight.
In 2019, we ran a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a mobile processing unit and successfully raised $19,280. We hired an engineer to custom build a processing unit and cooler for us out of a new 12ft x 6ft enclosed cargo trailer. This infrastructure holds all the processing and packing capabilities we need at both our Mount Pleasant and Southlands sites.
We’ve developed a community partnership with 10th Church, located at 10th Ave and Ontario St, where we park the trailer and hook up to both electricity and water in exchange for produce that is donated to their weekly meal programs. 10th Church is conveniently located 2 blocks away from the Federal Store.
MARKET & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
From the very beginning the farm’s primary outlet and focus has been a CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture”) style veggie box program. The last two years, we’ve capped our CSA at 82 members with high season-to-season retention and a waitlist.
In 2019, we increased our flower production and have continued to offer a sold-out bi-weekly and weekly flower subscription. In fall of 2019, we expanded our online farm store, where we offer a weekly produce selection and bulk order options. Through the online store, we have built another recurring customer base and a way for customers to try our produce without the full commitment of our CSA. This spring, we moved our Tuesday pick-up to The Federal Store at the corner of 10th Ave and Quebec St, where there is abundant foot and bike traffic. Here, we’ve created a weekly farmer’s market, where we build community relationships and frequently sell out of our produce and flowers. Any excess produce is sold through wholesale relationships or through our commitment to donate weekly produce to Oasis Cafe, a community meal program.
EDUCATION, WORKSHOPS & CONSULTING
The visibility of our sites in Mount Pleasant and Riley Park offer opportunities for the community to watch their produce grow throughout the season. We offer farm tours for students, community bike tours and have held workshops on the farm. We have created online courses including Tiny Gardens (The Bad Academy) and Urban Farming Essentials (Vancouver Community College) through City Beet. We’ve also taught multiple workshops at KPU Farm School and SPEC’s Small Farm Session. Throughout the years, we have been approached about multiple consulting opportunities and could see this as another vibrant direction for the farm.
Our objective is to provide the new owner(s) with all the tools required to walk into a successful urban farming operation. The sale of the farm will include all physical and intangible assets. This ranges from farm tools to branding and market supplies. We will provide additional appendices with lists of all physical assets that will be included in the sale as well as all intangible assets.
We have received confirmation from the homeowners that they will continue with the farm and are happy to have new owners use the yard space. We will include contact information for all 2021 homeowners in addition to prospective new sites, where we have been contacted by homeowners who wish to join. We receive a large influx of requests from the Greater Vancouver Area to convert new sites to farms. While we personally chose to keep the farm a specific size, we will include in the sale a business plan that highlights these opportunities for scaling the business.
We feel our records contain very relevant and useful information for a smooth transition between farmers/owners. We will happily include all of our sales records, crop planning records (including site notes, planting dates, seed orders), harvest records, supplier information, and government grant applications. If there are additional pieces of information that you think should also be included, please let us know.
Over the last 8 years, the City Beet brand has been built to be one recognized both physically within Mount Pleasant and on social media within the greater food and farming communities. The sale of the farm will include our Instagram and social media channels; our website, online store and blog platform; and our weekly newsletter and list-serv.
RISK AND MITIGATION
We understand that taking on City Beet is a huge commitment and, as with any farm or business, comes with risks. More than anything, we wish to see City Beet continue to thrive and have already considered these risks for the buyer.
LAND OWNER PARTNERSHIP
The largest risk with City Beet is that the company does not own the land on which we farm. We trade homeowners vegetables for the use of the land and have a contractual agreement for the use of the space. We have worked very hard to build strong and lasting partnerships with homeowners, while maintaining an agile business model that provides the immediate opportunity to expand onto new farm sites. We are committed to facilitating a smooth transition for the new owners to our current sites, while also including prospective site details and clear instructions on how to convert a new site from grass to harvest in as little as 14 weeks.
In order to facilitate a strong first year, we are happy to include in the sale negotiations an opportunity for mentorship. The breadth of this mentorship can include, but is not limited to: farm operations, crop planning and small business skills to enable the new farmer(s) with the skills for a successful first year. We will also happily consider on-farm mentorship, training or consulting hours for the first season as part of the sale price negotiation.
To provide both a fair deal for us and reduce risk for the new owners, our asking-price is $76,000, based on 1.5 years of net income before interest, tax and depreciation. With the current business model, this will result in a pay-back period of one to two seasons for the new owners with minimal risk. Included in the sale package will be our historical records (crop records, site records and financials) as well as a detailed business plan that outlines the opportunities available for you to continue to scale the farm and minimize your risk.
If you are interested and this sounds like the next chapter of your life please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss the details further with you.