The FarmPlate Young Farmers Series: Shannon Jones and Bryan Dyck From Broadfork Farm
Jeff Gangemi Jun 18, 2012 Young Farmers 0 comments
NAME: Shannon Jones & Bryan Dyck
FARM: Broadfork Farm
AGEs: 30 & 27
Tell us a bit more about your farm/business:
Broadfork Farm is a small-scale sustainable farm. We use organic farming methods to grow high-quality vegetables. Our entire crop is hand-tended to achieve the highest standards of flavor and quality for our customers while working to preserve the environment. We sell primarily through farmers’ markets with some sales to restaurants/caterers. We both work full-time on the farm year-round with no off-farm income.
What did you do before you started farming/working as an artisan/gardening? Have you found it be an easy transition from your previous job?
Shannon had studied Holistic Nutrition and was working at a natural health clinic and a health food store. She then went on to apprentice/work at farms in Ontario, the U.S., Latin America, and India. Bryan was in university studying Urban Planning, which he left to apprentice at a biodynamic farm in Ontario. We met while working on different farms that were both part of CRAFT Ontario.
What items do you produce?
Mixed vegetables, herbs, small fruit, cut-flowers, honey, eggs, vegetable seedlings, over 50 cultivars of rare garlic that we are growing out from bulbils to be sold as planting stock.
Why and when did you get interested in farming, gardening and running your own business?
For Shannon, it came through studying Holistic Nutrition and wanting to live the healthy lifestyle she had been learning about (fresh organic food, regular exercise, clean water, clear air) and she figured the best way she could be a nutritionist was though growing the healthiest food she could. For Bryan, the ecological impact of the way food is grown was a spurring point to get into farming. Tasting the bounty and getting a feel for the lifestyle made it impossible to imagine doing anything else.
What difficulties have you had, or are you overcoming, and how?
It was a challenge to get our farm mortgage approved since we were coming in as young people with only one season running our own business (on leased land), no other income, and not a lot in the bank. We were turned down by Farm Credit Canada (who said they would re-consider us if one of us got a full-time, off-farm job) and by our bank and credit union (who said they don’t do agricultural loans). Thankfully, Nova Scotia has a Farm Loan Board that approved us based on our experience and business plan.
What are your goals in the next 5 to 10 years?
We would like to start using oxen in place of some of our tractor work. Continue planting more fruit and nut trees and other perennials. Grow more of our own seeds and some to sell. Add more livestock (ducks, sheep, goats…). And pay off our mortgage!
What advice do you have for any other young farmers, artisans or gardeners who are just starting out?
Learn as much as you can from other farmers. Apprentice, go on farm tours/field trips, call up or email other farmers for advice. Also, learn the business side of running your own farm business. After years of working for other farmers, we came away with a lot of production and marketing knowledge, but very little on running a business. We took a farm business planning course (called Farmers Growing Farmers, through Everdale Farm in Ontario) that helped us out big time!
Note: This post is part of FarmPlate's new series about young farmers. If you want to be included, know someone we should profile or have comments/questions about our series, please contact Jeff Gangemi at email@example.com.