FarmStart’s Farm Viability Series – Starting This December

Do you know what’s making money on your farm? Are you thinking about trying a new marketing strategy or crop? Are you asking yourself if you can farm the way you want – and be financially viable?

FarmStart’s Farm Viability Series is a chance to dig deep into financial tools for evaluating and improving your current or future farm business. The series of 4 Webinars, in partnership with NORDIK Institute and AMI, explores financial literacy for ‘working less and making more money’, setting prices, managing debt and accessing land.



Webinar #1:  Mind Your Business! Financial Literacy and Effective Business Management for Farmers
Richard Wiswall – December 8th, 2015 – 12 noon-1:30pm EST
Registration closes Monday Nov 30th 2015 at midnight.

What does it mean to be “In Business”? Why should you keep records? Because Richard said so? No! To better manage your farm business so you can work less and make more money? Yes! Now that you are in the farming business, learn the language of business. Be a highly effective manager, learn the macro and micro tools of financials, and benefit from some quick tips for success. The webinar will cover financial statements and efficient office practices.

Mind Your Business! is a more advanced course that follows Richard’s Planning For Profit. In 2013 Farm Management Canada, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and the Central Ontario Agricultural Conference hosted Richard for a web presentation archived as an Agriwebinar. Richard has generously agreed to answer questions from the Planning for Profit Agriwebinar as well as Mind Your Business! during the question period on Dec 8th, so maximize your time with him by watching Planning for Profit in advance and taking lots of notes!


Webinar #2:  Get Ahead of Debt: The 5 Things Farmers Should Know When Preparing For Farm Debt
James Craig – January 7th, 2016 – 12 noon-1pm EST
Registration closes Dec 31st 2015 at midnight

Are you looking for your farm’s first loan? Or is your farm looking to expand and needs to take on more debt? With farms, the word “debt” can be intimidating. But it doesn’t need to be.

Join FarmStart as James Craig speaks on the 5 things farmers should understand when preparing for farm debt. Familiarize yourself with debt concepts, understand how lenders analyze loan applications, and learn some new tips to advance your farm business.


Webinar #3:  What It’s Worth: Pricing Produce for Profit
Chris Blanchard – January 19th, 2016 – 7-8:30pm EST

Being a sustainable farmer is more than the farming methods you use, it also means ensuring you can stay in business regardless of your marketing outlet.  Chris Blanchard will help you navigate pricing strategies to meet your customer needs and your farm’s bottom line.

This webinar is offered by the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN). If you are registering for this webinar ONLY, do so at ACORN’s website. If you are registering for the 4-part Farm Viability Webinar Series, access info for What It’s Worth will be provided as part of the Series through FarmStart.

For more webinars by Chris Blanchard, join ACORN’s Winter Webinar Series. Other topics include Capturing and Organizing Data and Marking Horticultural Crops to Food Stores. Winter learning galore!


Webinar #4:  Land Access Strategies
by Farmers – to be held in February – details coming soon



Single Webinar – $25 each

All 4 Webinars – $70

3-part course + 4 webinars = $250  (If you’re near Guelph or Chatham, ON)


To register:

Questions? Contact Margaret at:


Webinar PosterSocial media

When Your Workers Are Family…

Why Do Farmers Farm?


Alberta farmers feel like they’re in a fight for their farming lives. At the moment, the issue is Bill 6 – the “EnhancedProtection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act”,  intended to protect the basic rights of farm and ranch workers. But many rural Albertans are concerned about what this legislation will mean for the average family farm.  We’ve seen a lot of you voicing your concerns, signing the petition, and coming together as a community, deeply concerned for the future of this industry.

The bill applies legislation to ALL farm workers. It is highly unlikely that any farmers in this province believe that their workers don’t deserve protection or support. That is not what the backlash is all about. 90% of farms are family owned and the fact is that the majority of farm workers in Alberta are either family members, friends or neighbours. We are an industry that lives and breathes a culture of collaboration and support – where you step in where you are needed without thought for compensation or return.

The proposed Act will apply legislation to farming operations without recognizing the economic and social impacts it will have. One of the many young farmers we’ve seen voicing their heartfelt concern on Facebook is Daniel Schneider, who’s blog post has gone viral (with over 3,400 shares to date!), and the way he puts it is very representative of many of the blogs and status updates we’ve seen these last few days.

“it’s a bill that has the best of intentions, it is intended to prevent injury or death on farms. By all rights it sounds like the logical solution . . . Here’s the problem. We don’t want those rights, and we never asked for them . . . . Those affected by this bill were not consulted or given a voice on the matter.”

You can read Daniel’s full blog post here:

If this proposed bill was a project or initiative being proposed by a non-profit group and seeking government support, it would not meet the criteria for demonstrating collaborative efforts. Farmers must be part of this important conversation.

A series of town hall meetings are being held to present information and hear concerns and opinions. A collaborative process however,means working together to address the issue, educating each other and building trust, taking action and evaluating the outcomes. It will be important that the government process demonstrates the same guiding principles for collaboration that is expected of other organizations. It is our hope thatBill 6, rather than being rushed into legislation, would be taken under meaningful and careful scrutiny in a manner that involves Alberta’s family farmers and takes their concerns to heart.

I Decided That I Would Farm For One More Year…

Mike Kozlowski is an incredible young farmer near Red Deer, Alberta and he’s also a good friend of ours, an inspiration to many others in the farming community, and a passionate producer of healthy food for his local community and customers.  A few days ago, he publicly shared a deeply personal insight into the struggles he faces in carrying on with his farm business.  With Mike’s permission, we’d love to share his post with you:



This is all really personal, but I want to share because it’s important to me and it’s real, and there are just so many cat videos on here.

It’s the end of the farm season. A handful of tasks remain before I shift and start to focus more on yoga for the winter. Last year at this time I was beat and beaten. A hard season had taken its toll and my emotional and physical reserves were low. I was able to gather enough strength to get clear on one goal though; I decided that I would farm for one more year, and if I couldn’t find a way to make farming feel good, I would quit.

I love this picture that Andrea Wiseman masterfully caught of me this fall. I love the flying carrots, dirt and roughage that make the photo seem to move. I love the look of joyful abandon on my face, and the way I can see that joy expressed in my body. What a stupid thing to do, to whip carrots around like such a lunatic. Better than the look of joyful abandon though, was the feeling at the time. I made a decision to get in touch with my joy body, to let it flow through me, to let go.

It’s no secret that farming is a big commitment, a challenging lifestyle, and a labour of love. So much is out of our control, there are never enough hours, and the to-do list never seems to end for those intense six months. Years ago, a mentor of mine told me that he didn’t know how long he would be able to keep farming because of the crippling levels of stress that lead to illness, negativity, and dark thoughts.

I’m happy to say that I figured something out this year that has changed everything. It’s the end of the season, I feel energized, positive, and ready for more. It’s a bewildering position to be in, so drastic from how things have been in the past. I’ve considered that the change could just be that I’m one year older and one year wiser. I’ve considered that a few smart business decisions have saved me time and money.

The truth is, I think it’s more than that. I’ve made a decision to make this work. I decided that I can’t give traction to those feeling of extreme stress, anger, self-pity, or that feeling of “I’m working so fu&king hard and just need a break and why fu&k does everything always go wrong”. These feelings still come up, but when they do, I’m learning to connect to my body, notice the sensations, and let them pass through me. It sounds simple, anyways.

Connecting to my body sounds esoteric, but in a literal sense, it usually means sending awareness to my chest. I feel something in there; movement, something stirring, that I could probably call energy, though that term can be troubling because of it’s wide and varied use. When I become aware of that physical stirring, it’s like a manifestation in my body of the things going on in my brain. If I can find it physically, it becomes possible to explore it, observe, breathe, let it pass and carry on.

This isn’t yoga, exactly, though my yoga practice this summer has helped me immensely. It’s a combination of ancient and modern ideas, techniques, and philosophies that I have learned from countless amazing teachers, books, meditations, and practices.

So, this can’t solve 100% of our problems. It can’t change our chemistry or our past. But when coupled with an extreme commitment to self-care (I posted a video at the end of September on my timeline describing how I got married to myself this summer), I’ve found that life feels infinitely better, the future seems bright, and I feel powerful and energized. Most of the time.

God I just hope that you are all on a path toward self-development and discovery, that you can find more ways to live with positivity, and though we all know the darkness exists, that you are figuring out ways to feel better each day and let more of your light shine into the world.

Farm on bro! Much love and bliss your way.





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