I posted this in the Great White North section, and I was told I might have better luck posting it here.
I'm from Canada, and I'm trying to write a business plan to start my own permaculture farm in Ontario (I live in Ottawa, and am not opposed to moving to Quebec). Has anyone written a plan like this? Does anyone have recent numbers about market trends in buying produce, especially 'organic'?
If anyone could offer any help or suggestions, I'd appreciate it.
Basically I'd like to get a 10-15 acre piece of land and start with a fruit tree orchard, pigs, chickens, eggs (maybe goats too) and annual veggies like mixed lettuces, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, peppers, and maybe some corn.
It may depend on what the need of products are in your area. Ask Around at local businesses and farmers market. See what people are asking for, which they are not getting on a regular basis. Or a product they would like to see better or more of. Check what other businesses are selling and sell something different. Thats all I could think of
Have you seen this thread under farm income forum Farming homestead business plan... started by Richard Hasting? Starting any business is starting business. Business is business as they say. All of your "profits" will come from people giving you money for product service or information. People spend money on what they perceive they need. So if you can find out what they think they need fix their problem and market market market you would be fine. Of course it sounds like your question is how do you find out what they want. Ask them. Find people and just ask them. If they complain about something and you can fix their problem poof there could be your niche. Ask family and friends people at the farmers market @ grocery stores where ever you can find them. Maybe there is a way for a survey in your local paper or on a bulletin board of course if money allowed you could hire out a company to do that for you or maybe some young people to go door to door. Watch the news cooking shows what ever the media is promoting or reporting on is a huge clue. What's the newest health craze fad? Eat this ________ and feel younger get healthier and such. Creativity is key.
The problem with doing that before you have land and before you plant is the trend wants and desires could change before you are ready to provide product or service. So you have to be very observant. If there was a crop you could grow quickly get some regular customers treat them well as you introduce new items they most likely would be ready to buy. Maybe you could find a farmer that needs help getting rid of their produce or product and sell it for them. That puts you right on the front line so to speak. Contacting and communicating with people learning business and learning marketing. Talk to as many growers as you can building a huge network of people. Even talking to people that are not into growing or farming but run their own business is a very good thing. Success and failures all learning experiences. Very valuable info.
As far as running numbers that can be straight forward more or less? X sells for $1 I want to make $3000 how many do I have to sell? It costs me $A to make / produce what is the bottom line? How many pounds will a plant produce so how many plants will I have to produce What are your fixed costs and what would be expenses you have no control over.
Also you mentioned organic this is just my opinion take it for what it's worth as with the above. I feel that the term "organic" is nothing more than a marketing ploy to fool people and rip them off for higher prices. Now before you all get in a tither hear me out. Organic use to mean something it use to tell me as a consumer that this food was grown in the purest way possible. No chemicals and such there for would be better for me. Many farmers have to go through pain staking tedious labour filling out forms & such to track every thing. All the while following strict guidelines paying for inspections and certifications. Ok now when I go to the store I see mac-n-cheese in a box with the word organic on the label. The GMO people are trying to put crap under the "organic" label. Some farms are not even inspected properly. So as you can see the "big boys" the ones with money and power are tainting the "organics"
As a consumer if I buy say lettuce or eggs locally I can very easily ask how this was produced. I could even visit the farm and see for my self. If the trust and reputation of the farmer/grower/rancher is good I will feel confident with my purchase. Having something grown with as little human intervention as possible with the least amount of chemicals I feel is better for me in taste and nutritional value. (that's my perceived need) So to say grown better than organic or locally or some other clever informative labeling could be a better way for those wanting to provide this product and or service. I believe that it would require less work for the business person. That is just my 2 cents. No matter what you have to check with you own local government agencies to see what rules and regulations they impose as well as permits and such. I would also check out insurance. The last thing you want is someone to get sick even through no fault of yours and sue you taking your farm in the process.
I say if this is a dream of yours go for it fly over the obstacles and prove it can be done. Set the bar higher than you could imagine and never give up. There are no such things as failures only learning experiences. Well unless you just don't try then you lost before the games have begun.
Oh yeah read some business books basic and farm specific never stop learning. Sorry to be such a wind bag I do get excited when people want to go for it hope this may help and very best of luck to you.
If you did move to Quebec I could possibly send business your way. I live in Wa state the PNW but my son lives in Quebec (beautiful city) . They live 1 block from a farmers market. They want stuff longer and not just in the summer months. I hear them complaining all the time that they can't get good fresh produce longer. They also say the stuff isn't the best. There you have your first problem to solve extend a growing season as to provide produce earlier and longer in the season. Sometimes they complain about the price however they are quick to say they would pay even more for really good produce.
I have had an idea rolling around in my head for a little while and I think it has some possibility for success. In order to reduce your risk , don't buy a farm! Start advertising in your area that you will farm your neighbors yard, abandoned lot, farm, empty space, turn it into an edible landscape. The economy is real bad right now so the amount of people who would be interested in this type of arrangement is higher now than it would be than it would be if the economy was just humming along. What does the land owner get out of it? I think that would be something you would have to figure out on a case by case basis. Maybe the land owner would like to pay you to farm their land so they can have it all to themselves, because they're vegan and they eat a ton of veggies. Maybe they're a junk food junkie and they want a share of the profits from the fruit and veggies that you sell at the farmers market. Most people would fall somewhere in between these two extremes. I am tempted to call this consignment gardening, but I'm not sure if that correctly describes what I am talking about. One of the caveats of this type of farming/ gardening that i have considered is that your clients may eat too much of what you have grown for them. I asked an acquaintance about this problem and she brushed it off, talking about disclosure agreements and all that. One of the other problems that I have personally is that i really don't have enough knowledge about gardening to do this. I live in an apartment and my current profession is truck driver, so my knowledge about permaculture is based on a couple dozen podcasts from Paul. I know or (think at least) I could do some sprouting on my truck and some container gardening at my apartment. Can someone suggest a book or movie that would help me get further down the road in starting this business? PLEASE and THANK YOU! I have really wanted to own my own business for a long time and any help you can offer would be much appreciated. Btw I live in Phoenix az.
There is some pretty good info on spin gardening you can google it I think the site is www.spingarden.com . Now on the surface it may not seem like the permaculture way of design but it can be tweeked to fit what you want. I like some of the ways they lay out for a business plan. Pretty much they are growing for profit in the city. It seems to me that they had an example of using someone elses vacant lot. I possibly could have it mixed up with someone else. But they still have good info on the business side of things. At least it is good for a starting point of referance.