Every year about this time I begin to take stock of how our farm is functioning. Some years it’s inspiring, other years it’s frustrating, most years it’s a little bit of both. Regardless, it’s become a sort of cornerstone of how we do things and something I’ve come to look forward to and appreciate. The advice to write and follow a farm business plan is ubiquitous, but less so is the advice to regularly review, re-assess and revise that plan. Yet, it’s the latter of those two that has actually helped us grow our farm. Any business — especially a small business — is a constantly transforming entity, but I think that’s even more so for farm businesses. We’re subject to market conditions, weather conditions, and consumer psychology perhaps to a greater extent than business people in any other industry.
When we’re in the trenches my thought process rarely makes a conscious stop at the business plan, but because it has never been more than about twelve months since I revised it, it’s always in the background. I probably wouldn’t have recognized it in the earliest years, but I can now say for sure that it has been the conscious effort to adapt to continual market changes that has allowed us to make good decisions at the right times; it’s the little subconscious stops my brain makes when I’m trying to decide what to do that has saved our butts more often than not.
Which isn’t to say it’s always perfect… farming is still farming, but I shudder to think about decisions I might have made if this yearly tradition weren’t in place.
Which is all simply to say that this year, I’ve decided to open that process up as a course.
As I was penciling in time to make this happen for us this year I realized that this is something the industry could use. So I developed the steps I take into a curriculum, designed printables and forms, adapted my thought process to lessons and I’m inviting you to join me on the journey to The State of The Farm Address 2015. When we’re done, you’ll have your own state of the farm address. If you already have a farm business plan you’ll have revised it to better reflect where you are now and where you’re headed next; if you don’t have one you’ll have written one which is a great step in the right direction itself.
I’m calling the course “Farmprint,” because every business needs a blueprint — even farm businesses. Assuming it goes well, I think we’ll make it an annual event, but we don’t have to get ahead of ourselves. For now,