What is your farm for?

No.. seriously, what is your farm for?

It’s not for feeding people that’s for sure (come on… let’s face it, if it costs $0.12/lb to ship vegetables from california…. local farms are not actually about producing food to feed people).

So… what does your farm produce and why do the people who consume that value it?

I’m not just talking about physical, tangible products here….

I’m talking about what’s really going on.

Small local farms produce: happiness, fulfilling lifestyles, vibrant children, un-excelled flavours, textures, and smells (no not the farmer’s armpit), freshness and prolonged shelf life, connection and understanding, a sence of environmental responsibility and stewardship, freindship, laughter, status and status symbols, nutrients, vitamins, beauty, diversity (both in terms of rural cultural diversity and in terms of biodiversity).

Even the food that the farm produces for a client is not just food… the client is buying a story… a story that we tell them, and a story that they tell themselves; and that story certainly includes several of the element mentioned above.

Some of these products are for the clients, and some of these products are for the farmers themselves.

So… your turn now! Leave us your answer in the comments section below: What is your farm for? What does your farm produce and why do those who consume that value it?

Write it up into a farm vison statement! Post it on your wall, in the wash station, in your office…. Advertising works; advertise your own vision to your self!

Savouring the experience of the moment

I personally have never been one for perfectionism and have always embraced the motto « Good enough is perfect ». This is not to say I aspire to poor quality work, but rather that ‘done’ work is way better than ‘perfect’ or ‘excellent’ work… I might even go so far as to say the ‘done’ work is better than ‘good’ work. The fear of producing mediocre work is too often a break, preventing people from even getting started on the creative process. The standards we set for ourselves of what would constitute ‘good’ work are often so high that we barely even dare start upon the journey, lest we break ourselves against our ideals.

I use « Good enough is Perfect » all the time as a tool to accomplish more. It has been my method of kicking ass… or as I recently heard, of ‘barrel assing’ my way through life. Build it and move on the to next project, barely taking time to acknowledge myself for my accomplishment and always hyper aware of how it could have been better and how the next iteration will be an improved version.. It’s like standing before a beautiful field of vegetable you have grown, and only focusing on the 10 weeds present.

What if there were another way of seeing « Good enough is perfect » ? What would if be like to look at a piece of work or a project, be satisfied with it’s condition, and actually acknowledge ourselves. As in « wow! This is good enough, let me savour this moment of accomplishment. » What a sweet experience that would be!

So, to all me fellow  « ass kickers », let’s slow it down a notch. We have nothing to loose but our angst! Let us enjoy ourselves and savour the present moment all while kicking ass and bringing our creative visions into reality!


Letting go of dreams while going for them 100%

Clearly defining our dreams, visions, and goal is a tremendously powerful action towards living the life we want.

But there is a nuance here! Don’t let your dreams ruin your life.

When I was 21 years old, Jolianne (my spouse and business partner) and I developed and articulated a very clear vision of what our dream farm was going to be like. It was going to be 100 acres of hay, pasture, grain, and vegetables all in rotation. There was going to be animals too: draft horses to do the farm work, pigs, cows, sheep, chickens… and with 3 wild naked children running around, playing in the mud and getting into all sorts of mischief.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I love this dream! What happened though is that as the years went by, I did not allow myself the flexibility to adapt this dream. We launched our farm straight out of university and commenced to build a business that would allow us to buy this dream farm. Thankfully, we were able to launch our business using a rented farm. Along the way, I realised that 100 acre farms in our area weren’t selling for 350K$ anymore…they were selling for 5, 6, or 700K$. Add on the cost of the needed infrastructure and it was clear this was going to be a million dollar project at the very least.

Did this make me hesitate.. not in the slightest! When the going gets tough, the tough get going… and I was going to be both tough and smart, so this would be no problem! And so, I kept on building the business that could sustain this anticipated debt load.

We several time came very close to buying such a farm… I am so grateful that I somehow realised that this debt load would absolutely not contribute to the quality of life I valued and had envisioned!

The thing is …. I had grown attached to the HOW of my vision which had out shadowed the WHY. There was obviously some deeply valued life’s intention that led me to dream up that vision of my dream farm in the first place. I was more focused to how I thought I was going to live out that life’s intention in physical reality than focused on the life’s intention itself. That are many ways to skin a cat (as the saying goes) just as there are many outcomes that can satisfy a given life’s intention.

I am so grateful that I was able to see this in time! Is a privilege to be able to put this experience to the benefit of others via my coaching practice! (The wild thing is that i have since acquired several tools via my coach training that are exquisitely useful for this type of situation).

What is it you want to create?

Now… WHY do you want to create it?

Yes! That’s the important part!

Write it down somewhere and check in periodically to be sure that the goal you are pursuing is still in alignment with the life’s intention you were seeking to fulfill.

Soils, Sales, and Systems: Part 2

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’ll dive deeper into each of the legs of the 3S pyramid on our quest for the triple bottom line: People, Profits, and Planet.


Soils and soil ecosystems are the foundation of human life as we know it. The operation of a profitable and sustainable farm business is contingent on the presence of healthy, vibrant, and fertile soil ecosystems. I won’t go into detail here about soils as the organic movement is already full of knowlege on this topic. I encourage you to seek out and learn from the wealth of books and teachers out there.

I would like to highlight that there is a hierarchy of soil health factors…. that as long as the lower tiers of the soil pyramid are not solid, efforts to impact the higher tiers shall be in vain. So… don’t waste your time with microbiological activators or biodynamic preparations if your drainage is the limiting factor. Focus on addressing the weak link and a solid soil pyramid, tier by tier.


The second leg of the triangle is sales.

Ultimately, what is important is profits. However, profits does not start with an S… just kidding. With healthy sales, profits will occur naturally when the two other legs of the triangle are sturdy. That is to say: in a farm environment with healthy soils and optimized management systems, the key elements for profitability are in place.. if and only if the necessary sales are generated.

Our businesses can only grow as far as our imaginations can reach. There is a tendency within the small farm movement to limit what we think is possible; to not dream big enough. At what ever scale you are opperating, aim to be at the upper limit of that scale without unintentionally stepping into the next scale up. To take an example from the boxing world, it is better to be a heavy light-weight boxer than a light heavy-weight boxer. Another way of seeing this is that we must seek to maximize sales for a given set of fixed costs. Your greenhouse cost $25K to build regardless of whether you manage to sell 10 000$ or 30 000$ or 50 000$ of product per year from that greenhouse. The greenhouse doesn’t give a f*** if you underperform!

Basically, what I am saying is that many farmers sell them selves short (literally) simply because they aim too low. If you’re farming 1 or 2 acres bio-intensively, you could be aiming for $150-200K in sales. If your farming in the extensive model with 5 or 6 acres in production, you could be aiming for $200-300K in sales.


The third leg of the triangle is farm systems. A system refers to the coherent organisation of a number of components, tools, and procedures to achieve a defined outcome. When carried out in a systematic manner, the outcome of the actions in a system is greater than the sum of the parts ie. When combined in a systematic fashion, the final impact of the actions and tool is greater than what they would have achieved in an individual or haphazard manner.

Systems are both an organizational tool and an analytical tool.

Systems can often be broken down into a number of smaller systems. The farm as a whole is a system composed of a number of smaller interconnected systems

The key farm systems are:

  • Information flow (planning, communication of that plan to the field, record keeping, analysis, financial planning and monitoring)
  • Marketing and PR
  • Pre-planting Prep (Tillage, fertilisation, drainage, field layout, crop rotation design)
  • Crop Establishment (seedling production, transplanting, direct seeding)
  • Crop Maintenance (Irrigation, pest + disease management, trellising, pruning)
  • Weed Management (strategies, cultivation, physical barriers)
  • Harvest
  • Post-Harvest
  • Distribution
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Humans (wellbeing, training, accountability, growth and developement)(farm owners, employees, interns, volunteers, managers)

In order for the whole farm to function to its full potential, each of the farm systems must be optimized and the various systems must be integrated (logically linked so as to create synergies between the various systems). For example, it is clear to see that the Weed Management system and the harvest system and linked. When the weed management system is functioning properly, harvest will be way easier than if you had to search through waist high weeds just to find your crop.