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.
Application intake for BC mentees is now CLOSED.
Limited seats available for AB, MB and SK mentees – APPLY NOW!
Mentor applications (paid position) are accepted year-round.
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: Grow Moar Inc.
My name is Michael Moar and I am the solo market gardener for my company Grow Moar Farms. We are located in Draper, a small community outside Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta. We farm in treaty 8 territory, ancestral home of the Cree & Dene and unceeded lands of the Métis.
My mentor is Ryan Mason of Reclaim Organics on the shores of Pigeon Lake in Leduc County.
My goals for this season were to build a successful market garden and make a profit. I started with ½ acre of land, seeds, a rear tine gas rototiller and a gas weed whacker.
Goals we overcame were water tanks and free water acquisitions, as well as the purchase and installation of a gas transfer pump for irrigation.
A goal we didn’t meet was to install drip tape and automate some of our irrigation. Another costly goal which we didn’t reach was to utilize black sheet mulch for weed control.
My rototiller broke down in June. I didn’t replace it and chose to continue on without it. It was a crucial time when I was seeding, and it took the wind out of my sails for a couple weeks.
My key resource with working through the season was my mentor, Ryan, who always had some insight on any issue I was having whether be it in the field or in the office.
A Much-Needed Market Garden
This year I sold veggies through CSA, social media, and a very small market. The CSA was our best sales channel.
My customers bought from me through my reputation from my microgreens business. They are so happy that someone local is growing veggies again, as the closest market garden is 2 hours away in Wandering River.
The best praise we received has been a keen interest and support for our farm as we overcome the new challenges we face growing food in our community.
Using the Business Mentorship Network
This mentorship program has not only made available an incredible amount of information, the access to other farmers and their wealth of experiences has been immeasurable.
My mentor has instilled in me a working knowledge of financial planning, helping me to plan a profitable market gardening business.
The Young Agrarians program gave me the structure and the confidence to go all in on the project this year. I received the tools needed to create a viable business plan.
Challenges and Victories
For me workflow and routine are the keys to success. I had challenges this year and sometimes it was hard to stay on task. We will have challenges every year, so deal with them quickly and get back to the routine. It’s a quick season, there is zero time to waste.
The biggest victory on the farm this year was acquiring, setting up and maintaining our simple irrigation system. We had it going just in time to make our crop of pickling cucumbers super happy and abundant.
We are moving to a new plot of land, and starting again fresh next spring. We have access to a total of 4 acres, and plan to create some farm experiences as well as a farm stand on site.
Next year we will be much more proactive with the weed barriers and automated irrigation. Staying on top of the workflow is key.
This winter I am actually looking forward to building a winter camp at the leased site. We have a trappers tent and big bonfire pit. We can sit around the fire and chat, gaze at the stars and northern lights and enjoy some bannock and tea.
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