I have been growing vegetables for veggie boxes for 6 years now and Kirsten and I have just completed our third year in business farming from our own farm. While there is a strong demand for what we offer and our output has doubled, we have also experienced some real challenges. Kirsten and I decided we needed to get some outside advice and help as we plan ahead for the new year.
In order to do this, Kirsten and I spent three days with a friend and mentor who started and runs his own business in Ontario. We established our personal goals, set farm goals, and worked on what actions we need to start with to realize these goals. We also set 5 year goals for the farm and wrote a mission statement. A big thank you to Andrew Hordyk of Arborwood Tree Service in Ontario for his help and for making this one of the most enjoyable and memorable times of our lives.
Our farm mission statement is:
Strawberry Hill Farm is a family farm with the mission to provide fresh, local, and organic foods with sustainability and profitability in a way that provides a healthy work-life balance for us, our family, and our employees.
Our first action required is to hire a full time office manager to do the bookkeeping, sales, and other administrative work along with some order packing and other farm jobs. We also need to hire a production supervisor though it may be 2016 before a person can fully step into the role. You can see full job descriptions by going to the Job Opportunities tab of our website or clicking one of the links below.
Every year we have foreign workers who have asked to come work on our farm. I have been very resistant to the idea in part because our emphasis is on supporting our local community. While this is a worthy goal, we have found that there are few Canadians in this area that are familiar with field scale vegetable production and few Canadians are willing and productive working all day in the hot sun doing field work. Last year we lost crops in the field due to not being able to care for or pick them on time. There is nothing more discouraging for a farmer than to see a crop get smothered by weeds or vegetables rot in the field because there is no-one who can pick them correctly.
I like to learn new things and I also like to teach. It has been a long term dream of mine to be able to help farmers in poorer countries to raise crops and livestock without chemicals and help them be more sustainable freeing them from the control of large corporations.
In light of these factors, we believe that a combination of Canadian and foreign workers will help the farm succeed and help us realize these goals. It will allow us to support our local community while providing a way for outreach. Workers will get to experience working on an organic farm where crops and livestock are raised in harmony and help the farm be profitable while protecting and enhancing the surrounding environment. These are skills and experiences all workers will be able to take home with them no matter where they live.
We will also be offering a couple of meat box options in addition to the veggie boxes. We are introducing a chicken box and a pork/chicken combo box. These will provide a substantial cost savings for people who would like a consistent supply of meat from month to month.
This is probably one of the longest blog posts I've written and is not full of interesting pictures but I hope it gives a flavour of another important side of owning and running a farm - planning!
We welcome comments on this or any other blog post. You can leave a comment here or send comments to my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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