Why we farm…farming as a creative endeavour.

So…. what’s your mission here on earth? You are here with a unique set of skills, which puts in an ideal position to make a unique contribution to the world. Sure, there are others that could (and will) make similar contributions, but your context is unique. No one else has ever lived in your shoes nor will they ever.

There are so many ways to manifest this gift to the world… and at so many scales. Some of us contribute through mindful parenting right here in our little house hold while others make contributions on a global scale which are of no less value.

The sole criteria of success is the willingness to step up to the plate. Did I give it my all? Was I willing to step out of the comfort of my own inner dialogue? Did I engage the world with integrity?

For many, organic farming is a means of making this contribution. When I started Ferme Mélilot in the winter of 2009-2010, I was ready to make a tangible positive impact. I had spent years pondering how to change the world. My ear was well familiarized with all manner of philosophical and political environmental discourse, and frankly I was sick of it! Enough blah blah… time for action! Even if it was just on 1 or 5 or 10 acres, at least I could see that I was creating positive change through my work.

The farm truly serves a wealth of purposes: a source of income, an excellent environment to raise a family, an tool to enact environmental reform, a platform for rural economic development, and an artistic and creative endeavour (Excel and a bare field were my favorite canvases upon which played out my artistic creation through the intricacies of diversified vegetable crop planning … part dance, part mosaic, part theatre, part painting.)

So.. what is is for you? What drives you?

What purposes does your farm serve for you?


Our three roles on the farm: Captain, Manager, Worker.

Imagine we are in a rainforest… our task is to cut a trail through the forest.

The workers are the ones swinging the machetes. Chopping through the forest.

The managers are right behind them: finding the best machete, the best way to swing it, rotating the workers so everyone gets a rest, measuring progress… etc.

The Captain is the one who climbs up a tree… looks around… and shouts ‘Wait, Wait… We’re in the wrong forest!!!’  

(to which the managers usually respond ‘shut up, we’re making great progress’)

You can hire people as workers and managers… but the role of captain is your unique ability.. No one can replace you as captain of your farm (or co-captain depending on how your business is structured).

And yet so many of us spend all our time in the roles of manager and worker.

It is so important to dedicate some time every week to the role of captain.

To take a few minute of calm to look out over the horizon and see what’s coming next.

Is the farm headed in the direction you envisioned? How will the farm adapt to evolving conditions around it? What is your vision, your goals for the farm?

What do you enjoy about the farm, what are you grateful for, what makes you happy?

What doesn’t work for you, what is causing you the most stress, how will this be rectified?

It doesn’t have to be long. Simply the act of taking this time each week creates the mental space for vision to emerge throughout the rest of the week as well.

Go make a ruckus!


PS: The rainforest metaphor is taken from ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People‘ by Stephen Covey….. a book which has been very influential for me. I highly recommend it!

Delegating a task vs Delegating a role.

We can’t do it all….despite what we may sometimes think 😉

There are simply too many tasks on a farm to be able to do all of them.

Not only this… but by delegating certain types of tasks, we free ourselves up to focus on using our super power (for me it’s using my lazer beam third eye).

As business owners there are certain roles and tasks on the farm that are best suited to us. There are certain tasks that when we focus on them, we get the largest return in terms of our time and energy. These tend to be big picture, vision, and management level activities.

So how do we best delegate? This starts by being very clear with ourselves about what we are delegating… the distinction to make is between the delegating a task and delegating a role.

Delegating a task:

This is the basic level of delegation. We assign a specific task or set of tasks to someone or to a team. The clearer we are in our instructions, the better.

Specifically we need to be clear about:

  • What done looks like… what is the desired outcome;
  • How long the task is to take;
  • What tools and materials are needed;
  • Details of the techniques involved.

Verbal communication can be tricky, it is almost impossible to be sure that people have heard what you actually said. Taking the time for people to repeat back to you the key elements of the task is a good idea,

Yes…. delegation takes time. Time to clearly communicate, time to issue written directions, time to train them, and time to follow up. Which is why it is great if you can find a way to not only delegate a task, but an entire role.

Delegating a role:

Herein lies the real power of delegation.

When you delegate a role, you free up your mind to focus on those areas of your business that only you can do…. to focus on your role as captain of the ship rather than on operational management.

While details are important when getting someone started in their newly delegated role, the key is to be clear about the desired outcome and purpose of the role. What is that role to achieve, what outcome to you seek, what is the available time frame, what criteria will be used to determine success, and most importantly WHY is this role crucial to the success of the farm (putting the role in context vis a vis the big picture.

Perhaps you might notice how well this maps onto the OPA framework .

Let us consider the delegation of the role of greenhouse manager for a farm growing their own seedlings for field vegetable production:

    • Outcome: To produce healthy thriving seedlings that will be ready for transplanting on schedule (as determined by the field planting schedule). Criteria for success are leaf color, the presence of a rooting system allowing the seedling to be easily pulled from the tray while also not being root bound, healthy, white roots, absence of insect pests or diseases, readable tags in each tray detailing crop type, variety, and seeding date, seedling has been hardened off at least 3 days prior to planting, weekly update on what will be ready to plant this week, seedlings are ready on time for planting as planting in the transplanting calendar


  • Purpose (how does this role fit into the big picture): Healthy seedlings are the foundation for a productive transplanted crop, seedling vigour and health directly determines how well the seedling will adapt to field conditions and how fast it will grow, vigorous seedlings give us a head start on weeds and insect and contribute to growing healthy, profitable crops… healthy profitable crops allow this farm to thrive, to pay the employees and provide high quality nourishing food to the community we serve.
  • Action: Here is where you guide the person to get started in this role. What are the current best practices/standard operating procedures, intro to the greenhouse seeding calendar, how to document improvements in the system, tools and materials needed.


The idea here is that you are getting them off to a good start… you check back in to support them to fully appropriate the role… and then you let them do it!

Resist the urge to ‘micro manage’!

You must trust them and, yes, you must accept that there is a learning curve. Schedule regular meetings with your management staff to support them in achieving success. Everyone wants to succeed, your role is to set them up for a win and them let them run with the ball.


What is your superpower? What is your unique ability in your farm business? Where does your time and energy produce the greatest return? How can you better focus your attention on the big picture… on being the captain of the ship?

What tasks can you delegate?

What roles can you delegate?

Let me give you a hint, it’s more than most farmers usually admit 😉

I suggest you make a list with three columns:

  1. My super powers/unique abilities
  2. Easily delegatable
  3. Harder to delegate.

Now… what role are you willing to delegate this week? Is there anywhere on the farm that you need to be more clear regarding something you have delegated?

Have fun! (seriously, the fun factor is so important!)


Putting the champagne moment at the top of your to-do list!

Ahhh… the to do list! We’ve all got one and sometimes it seems like most of the time it gets longer rather than shorter!

To do lists are such an important tool for managing our farms and there are some nuances that I would love to dive into over the next couple of weeks.

First off… how to get the list to get shorter and shorter over time…

There are actually 4 ways to get a task off of your to do list

  • accomplishment (do it);
  • deferral (decide to delay the due date);
  • delegation (someone else does it);
  • deletion (decide that it will not get done… and remove it entirely from your list).

It is important to note that actually doing the task is only one of 4 options at our disposal for shortening our to do list.

Once you have drawn up the list of things to do for the day ask your self: Which of these tasks is the champagne moment… which task would getting done cause you to bust out the champagne (real or metaphorical) and celebrate? Great now put that one at the top of your list… this is your Most Important Action (MIA). Next choose 2 other top priorities. Focus on these top 3 tasks early in the day…. the rest of the list is gravy.

And… don’t forget to take a moment and actually celebrate when you get these done… savouring the accomplishment, regardless of how much is still on your list.

What is one thing that would cause you to celebrate if you got it done today? … this week? …. this month?

Go make a ruckus!