Strawberry Hill Farm / Blog / 2015 - A Year to Remember

2015 - A Year to Remember

Posted on by Tim Livingstone

We have been able to have a bit of a break this Holiday Season so it is a good time to reflect on 2015 while we look ahead to 2016.  This post will be a reflection and I hope my next post will be the outlook for 2016.

Almost a year ago in January, Kirsten and I went to Toronto to meet with a business friend and advisor.  We had just completed our third season from our own farm and needed to refocus, plan, and decide on our future direction.  Sales were strong but labour was a real challenge!  We looked at the farm in light of our personal goals and as a result of that trip, we did our first full business plan setting ambitious 5 year goals.

Then we faced a brutally cold winter, heating the greenhouse to wash carrots, and packing out of our small shop, barely able to stay warm.  By March, we decided we did not want to go through another winter that way again so armed with the business plan we approached several lenders requesting to speed it up and bring a new warehouse construction from the 2016 year into 2015.  This was approved so we were able to both purchase a small house for foreign workers and put up a new building for storage, sales, packing, and an office.  The savings alone from better storage and efficiency have been enough to pay for the building.  As winter takes hold again, we are really thankful for a nice place to work.

We also brought 3 foreign workers in from Jamaica to help bolster our Canadian team of 10 employees.  This was very expensive and a real learning experience for us, but the good news was that we got our work done for the first time ever.  One of our biggest challenges has been to keep employees until the middle of November to get all the crops harvested and into storage.  We have often lost employees in September or October to other full time work and struggled ourselves to get the harvest in.  Having a crew till the harvest was complete made a big difference going into the winter.

There continues to be a strong demand for local, organic, and ethically produced farm products and our sales well exceeded what we thought were ambitious goals for 2015.  On the other side, our expenses, with labour in particular, also well exceeded our budget but in the end it has pretty much balanced out. 

We are thankful for good growing weather, our loyal employees, and for an overall prosperous year.  More than ever we appreciate our family and good health.  We also want to Thank you, all our generous customers, for your support. 

We look forward to seeing you and serving you again next year!

Tim


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