We are enrolled in the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings Journeyperson Training Course because we are interested in continuing to improve our farm business in a sustainable and family friendly way. We also serve on the LSP’s steering committee for advanced farmer training, which has been a valuable way for us to give back to an organization that has helped us so much.
We are in our fifth year of organic vegetable farming and have worked very hard to make this a viable business that allows us to live the lifestyle we desire for our growing family and farm. The Journeyperson Course came along at a critical time for us, having just finished our fourth year of farming and realizing we needed to change some things. Also, we had just had our third child when the course started so we knew we had to adjust our business plan to accommodate our new family member.
The unique combination of a weekend retreat (for self-improvement and partner communication), an experienced farm mentor, financial adviser, and peer farmer has truly helped us gain perspective and focus on how to proceed in the following years with our business. Our vision for how we want our farm to grow is much clearer as a result of the course. In addition, our personal satisfaction and family life has improved dramatically.
Some specific examples of how we are changing our farm business are building more high tunnels to reduce the risk of extreme weather events, building a large greenhouse to add a bedding plant and nursery business, and developing a plan to plant four acres in fruit orchards over the next three to five years in order to diversify our farm’s offerings.
Without the advice of our farm mentor and the planning work we did at the Journeyperson retreat, I believe we wouldn’t have identified these as priorities for our farm and we may have continued with an unsustainable business plan. I would absolutely recommend this course to others as a way to “check in” on their business plan after a few years of farming and see the most viable way forward.
Beginning farmers face a difficult route to achieving success, mostly due to the level of risk involved in starting a new business (especially a farm). Decisions regarding money, time, land, equipment and family are highly challenging in the first few years of a farm, especially with the constant risks of weather and little experience to draw on as a beginner.
LSP’s work in general, and specifically Farm Beginnings and the Journeyperson Course, is important to helping beginning farmers succeed.
Josh and Sally Reinitz own and operate East Henderson Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture operation in Henderson, Minn.