YA Business Mentorship Network – Correction Line Acres

Posted by Lydia Carpenter on November 02, 2023

Young Agrarians is celebrating the tenth year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) program in BC and the second year of the program in the Prairies! The BMN offers business mentorships to a diverse array of new and young farmers. Through one-on-one mentorship, peer networks and online workshops young farmers develop the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses.

Applications for the 2024 mentee cohort are open until November 13 2023.  Mentor applications (paid position) are accepted year-round. 

Check out the Business Mentorship Network page for more information!

Want to learn more about our Mentees (or Mentors)? Below you’ll find a Q&A where you can learn more about one of the 2023 cohort and their experience of the year supported by the Business Mentorship Network. If you’d like to read about the experiences of other Mentees/Mentors, head to our blog here.

Meet a Mentee: Correction Line Acres

My name is Jonah Langelotz. I’m behind the new farm start-up, Correction Line Acres. The land I farm is located a few miles from Rosenfeld, MB. on Treaty 1 territory. It’s land that has been in our family for generations, until now used primarily for grain production.

My mentor in the program is Rebekah Sanford from Prairie Winds Garlic Farm.
The goals I had for the season were to register as a business and other related “official things”, make a marketing plan, sell out of the garlic I grew, and close to double the amount of production for next year.

Goals for this season:

So far, I’ve completed half my goals. I’ve got things up and running on the business end, and planted close to 10k cloves this fall. Selling and marketing my garlic is an area I need to work at improving moving forward.

What went well this season relating to your goals? What didn’t go as you expected and what did you do instead?

One of the challenges in this is that some of the garlic I have left to sell doesn’t meet the quality standards that I had hoped for. Some challenging growing conditions along with poor management decisions led to some extra disease pressure in the garlic I harvested.

Some of this was bad luck, some inexperience and slow reaction time on my part.
A moment of joy and success came for me leading up to planting time. My hope was that I could rely on friends and family to help with cracking bulbs into cloves. This work takes lots of time, and alone can be menial work. The other challenge is that bulbs should be ideally cracked as close to planting time as possible – all while balancing moisture conditions in the fall.

It didn’t go as planned, but I had lots of friends new and old help on a few occasions all within a few days ahead of planting. The best part of it was that everyone was quite happy to learn and be involved in the work.

This is something that I try to be aware of – the balance between human power and machine power. There will always be machines to do work that people can do. A lot of time using them makes sense, but what I want to open to is the idea that machines aren’t always more efficient. They might look that way on a spreadsheet when accounting financial costs, but what about the bigger picture?

What resources did you find most valuable to support your business during the season?

To help make management decisions throughout the growing season, there are a couple go to books that I refer back to. It’s nice to have a point of reference when small things come up. For bigger issues or ideas, it’s also been really helpful asking questions of my mentor or other garlic growers.

What were your best sales channels/avenues?

My main sales channel this week was a weekly farmers market. I sold a little bit to a smaller grocery store, as well as through friends and word of mouth. I enjoy being at markets for the connection and proximity it allows you with end customers, but it certainly can take lots of time and energy.

In the future I’d like to find a reliable alternative to add some balance. I’m not
interested in being at markets every weekend, or multiple times a week.
What I’m working at offering customers is high quality culinary and seed garlic. I grow 8 varieties and touch every bulb myself multiple times through the season. It’s a crop that affords and demands a labour of love. Repeat customers so far are returning for taste and flavour, seeing the value in what I do. That’s what I hope for and would like to offer going forward.

What was the most important thing you gained from the YA Business Mentorship Network Program experience?

The main thing I appreciated from the YA Business Mentorship was the channel and opportunity to connect with another garlic farmer, for small questions and solidarity throughout the growing season. It was nice to know that Rebekah was in my corner, and she was quick to respond and share when I had a question. Lots of this for me came down to questions about marketing specifics and where to get materials and resources.

The program more broadly gave me structure and tools to approach my business. It made me think ahead before potential issues came up, and gave me resources to apply to improve the use of my time and energy.

What were one or two big, hard lessons this season you would want to share with other farmers?

No matter how hard you try, planning can only take you so far in farming. It is an art, and
demands that you be flexible and adjust according to conditions. The lesson I learnt is to pay closer attention, and react quickly when unforeseen challenges arise.

What will you do differently next year?

Next year I’ll be more proactive with measures to improve my curing process, and mitigate
disease potential throughout the growing season: be more stringent with culling sick plants, making selective choices about cover crops.

What future plans and goals do you have for your farm and how will you achieve these?

Once I’ve got a good handle on growing garlic successfully I’d like to cultivate other higher value crops within the bigger growing system that I manage.

I’m interested in perennial crops and permaculture design, so finding alternatives that I know people are eating and want to buy are important to me.

Share a story of something interesting/ funny/weird that happened on your farm this season.

A neat experience I had this year, was hearing about friends and family encountering others talking about the garlic that I grew. A young high school student who was really keen on the black garlic I was selling at the farmers market, made a pasta dish in his home economics class, which was cool. Living close to a small town, I heard from a couple different people I knew about this students excitement about the garlic which felt good.

What are you most looking forward to this winter?

I look forward to the break winter gives me for lots of my farming work. I enjoy cross country skiing; and will definitely put aside some time to improve my garlic growing system next year.

Where can we find you online? (website, FB, IG etc)

Stay tuned for the time being on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/correctionlineacres/

In the future I hope to gather customers via a newsletter, and creating a landing spot for a broader audience in a website that outlines some of the work I do and why I do it.