Putting profits ‘first’ on small-scale organic vegetable farms

Relax! I’m not talking about prioritizing the pursuit of profits ahead of social and environmental considerations. I was just teasing you with that title 🙂

What I am referring to is how we view profit in our financial planning.

Is profit simply what is left over at the end of the year once all expenses are paid?

Building on the principle of Pillar 1, I propose we shift our paradigm and put profits first when we start working on our budgets for the coming year. The first step in crafting an empowering budget is to declare what profits (salary) you want for the coming year. In a certain sense, profit is the first ‘expense’ to be planned in a budget. 

Before: Income – Expenses = Profit
This year: Income – PROFIT = Expenses

There are two things that come out of this shift.

Firstly, we realize that we have a greater degree of flexibility in terms of our expenses (and our incomes, but we already tend to think about acting on income). This is a key element in moving towards greater financial mastery. It is easy to think we have no control over our expenses, but the reality is quite to the contrary. This flexibility exists both at the planning and the execution phase.

  • At the planning phase, the act of planning profits first opens the possibility to use our human creativity and ingenuity to see ways of modifying both our income and expenses in order to achieve our financial goals.
  • At the execution phase, we are able to keep our expenses in check by making conscious spending decisions by comparing each month how much we have spent in a particular category versus how much we had planned for. Given how passionate farmers are, it can be easy to spend too much when we don’t take a moment to pause and see how much money is actually left in that budgetary category.

FREE TOOL: Here is a spreadsheet that I have found useful on my own farm to track the evolution of my income and expenses on a monthly basis (using color coding to help me see the current situation of each expense category at a glance)

Secondly, this shift allows is to tap into the power of declaration. When we declare what net income we are willing to earn in the coming year, we set to work the immense power available to us when we focus our mind on a specific outcome. The mind is like a super-computer, it will work instantly to find answers to whatever questions we consciously or unconsciously ask it. If we want better answers, we need to ask better questions (aka, more conscious questions).

With the traditional way of seeing profit as what is left over, we are asking our mind to solve for the question ‘How can I have enough left over at the end of the year to scrape by and make it through another year?’. When we shift our thinking to ‘profits first’, we are asking our mind to solve a very specific question: ‘How can I manage my business so that I can pay myself an income of 30 000$ this year?’

The final element in this approach is to actually set up automatic monthly bank transfers from your farm bank account to your personal bank account. This way, you are actually paying yourself first. Start out at least with a baseline salary… 1000$ per month, 2000$ per month or whatever is authentic to you. The idea here is, once again, to prioritize and attribute your resources to what is most important to you first.

What do you see for yourself about this shift in mindsets?

What net income are you willing to earn in 2019?

By what date are you willing to complete an empowering ‘profits first’ budget for 2019?

Happy New Years! May health, prosperity and love reign in your life in  2019!


Crafting an Intentional Family Winter Holiday Narrative using the 5 Pillars.

Merry Christmas!!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that in this non-secular era, most of us are not actually celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, the mystical innovator, all around shit-disturber, and spiritual guide who walked the earth two millennia ago (I mean this with the highest esteem of shit-disturbers and the process of innovative disruption). Yet, we still call this time of year the holiday (i.e. Holy-day) season.

So, what exactly is it that is Holy and that we are celebrating at this special time of year?

One way of seeing it is that we are celebrating the opportunity to get together and cherish this time with our families and loved ones. While this is a big part of it, I have been looking for a deeper meaning, especially since the birth of my son. He’s five years old now, and I would love to transmit a winter holiday tradition to him that isn’t just about stimulating the economy, generating more plastic toys that will end up in a landfill, or floating the giant mass of plastic in the Pacific ocean, and the myth of the fat man in a red suit. I’m hungry for meaning and that sense of connection that comes from sharing an empowering narrative with those I love around me.

So how do I go about finding or creating a meaningful winter holiday narrative?

Actually, the process of creating and living a lifestyle we love is similar, whether we’re talking about designing farm systems or designing a holiday narrative.

Let’s take a look at how I can apply the principles of the 5 Pillars to cultivating a winter holiday tradition for my family that is authentic and meaningful for me.

Pillar 1: A clear and well-defined vision.

My family and I share a Christmas narrative and tradition that elevates the human spirit, nurtures a sense of gratitude and awe, and contributes to raising our consciousness. My family’s new winter holiday narrative draws inspiration from multiple faith-traditions including Judeo-Christianity, pagan, indegenous, and new-age cultures. To me, Christmas represents the dawning of a new era, of a new consciousness. In a very literal sense, it marks a time of the year when the days have reached their shortest length and the light is returning more and more each day.

Our winter holiday narrative is ever evolving and is developed as a family through dialogue and consensus building. We welcome all ideas. We have fun in the process. We savor this time together and we give thanks for the miracle of life. We follow an iterative process where each year we build upon the past to create a celebration that is even more in light with our vision. We have a time of reflection and discussion in the new year about what we enjoyed about this iteration of our winter holiday celebration and we take notes and have a clear plan for the following year.

We engage in family celebration. We celebrate the dawning of a new light through a candle lighting ritual. We celebrate the beauty of life through the decoration of a tree. We tell stories from multiple faiths that highlight the elevation of the human spirit and consciousness. We sing, we play, we cuddle, and we express gratitude.

Pillar 2: A S.M.A.R.T. plan.

In this case, the plan is less obvious than with a crop plant or a farm budget. This first step is crafting a S.M.A.R.T. goal towards which the plan will strive. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time based).

By December 31 2018, I celebrate with my family a one-day winter holiday celebration centered around a collectively decided, intention holiday narrative/ set of activities. Life’s intentions: To be a loving family member. (Linking it to a life’s intention ensures that the goal is truly relevant.)


The plan that would accompany this SMART goal would be:
1) Share my vision with my family and enroll them in this project.
2) Brainstorm a list of possible activities, stories, holiday rituals.
3) Have a conversation with my family where we decide on a set of activities and narratives that we want to try out this year. Create a written sequence of activities.
4) Gather the necessary materials etc for the celebration
5) Celebrate!
6) Have a conversation with my family about what we liked and what we would like to try differently next year.

Pillar 3: Prioritization of time and resources.

This pillar is all about identifying the activities which bring us the bulk– the desired outcome,and consciously focusing our time and resources on these activities. For me, this means focusing my energy on activities and rituals that cultivate the spiritual side of this holiday. This also means not dedicating significant time or energy to material gift giving and shopping. P.S. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of this at the grandparent’s house 😉

Pillar 4: Solid farm systems.

Hummm… in this case we aren’t talking about farm production systems. However, the principle behind this pillar is still applicable: Using systems to reduce the reliance on any one person or component of the system.

In this example, what comes to mind is having a written list of the activities we have planned for the celebration so as to empower each member of the family to act independently on the plan that we have collectively decided on.

Pillar 5: Monitor for results within a community of support.

The key is to plan for the future but live in the present. It will be important for me to stay focused on the results I want (spiritual connection with my family) rather than on the specifics of how I imagined the day was going to unfold. The key in this example will be awareness, flexibility, and communication. This pillar is really sweet because it reminds me that I am building this holiday narrative within the context of a loving family community and that we are all here to support each other.

Your turn!


  • What is one area of your personal life where you would like to live in a more intentional manner?


  • How can the principles behind the 5 Pillars be applied to this area of your life?
  • May health, wealth, and love reign in your homes during this holiday season and into the new year.



Go make a ruckus!

Cultivating joyous mental agility on small scale organic farms!

One summer’s day in July 2016, my wife turns to me and says ‘Hey Jonny! Let’s sell off all our stuff and head out on an adventure!’ As you might imagine, my first reaction was ‘What the WHAT? Are you crazy!’

I had just spent 7 years building a farm business that was able to generate upwards of $60,000 net income and had me working 50 to 55 hours per week, even in the height of summer (plus my wife and our toddler working 15 hrs per week taking care of the animals). We were farming 6.5 acres of vegetables marketed half and half through our 200 member CSA and our farmer’s markets for a total of $240,000 of sales per year. Plus, we were on the verge of buying our own land with the financial backing of the Quebec government who was willing to guarantee an $800K mortgage. As far as I could tell, we were being successful and as such, I saw no need to make a change and ‘lose’ all that I had built!

And yet…

And yet, in hindsight, I am so grateful that I was open to my wife’s idea  which I eventually decided to take. A leap and embark on what has turned out to be a two- year family road trip adventure. What amazes me the most i are the many unexpected experiences we have had. The fact that what we are currently living is so far outside the realm of what I could ever have imagined. What other possibilities could exist that are just so far out of my paradigm that I can’t even see their presence?

One such experience for me has been discovering the practice of life coaching. If 2 years ago you had told me I would be working as a professionally trained life coach with the honor of supporting a dozen organic farmers from across Canada, the US, and Mexico… I would have asked you ‘what are you smoking, and where can I get some’ (just kidding, I’ve been clean and sober now for 5 years… but that’s another story for another time).

People often ask me, ‘Do you miss the farm?’ The answer is a clear NO! AND, I am simultaneously so excited to launch the next iteration of our farm in the next 2 years! It has been wonderful for me to see that I currently have the same excitement about starting a farm as I did way back when I was 21 and about to start Ferme Mélilot. Even after all those years and with full knowledge of what it entails. When I made the decision to leave the farm, one of my fears was ‘What if I discover I don’t actually like farming?’… which I realize now was such a great monkey-mind conversation because if I actually didn’t like farming then it would have been great to find out!

You know what? It turns out that all those fears about ‘losing-all-I-had-built-up’ were just a sweat- monkey mind conversation as well! I now see that the most valuable assets I developed during the seven years of Ferme Mélilot can never be lost:  These are the entrepreneurial and management skills that I have acquired and will have with me in my tool box for whatever businesses I launch as I go forward in life.

What I’m trying to get at here, is the importance of being open to the possibilities that are seeking to emerge. Having a clear vision and being focused are such valuable qualities,but they must not blind us to the amazing possibilities that light up outside of our current paradigm. Realising that we can both dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to our current project, AND remain open to change  as well as the emergence of new possibilities, allows us to live with a little more lightheartedness and playful JOY!

My question for you today?

  • What is seeking to emerge in your life?
  • What would become possible if you temporarily suspended your paradigm (aka your current way of seeing things)?
  • What would it be like to cultivate the energy of joy and lighthearted play into your farm?

Stay nimble and go make a ruckus!