Winter Planning Retreat

imageTaking in the tides of the Pacific.
During the winter season it’s true that many of the plants slow down or die back but that doesn’t mean your farmer has slowed down. I am still out in the fields observing  drainage and taking notes on the growth of the cover crops planted. Garlic and Fava Beans were planted alongside the practical nitrogen fixing, pollinator loving and erosion reducing Crimson Red Clover, Oats and Barley. (Cover Crop Blog post is in the works).
This time of year I am mostly inside the barn building out shelters, improvements, new tools and implements that’ll help reduce the physical demands of farming during the season. I am also fixing structures, roofs, tools, and making safety improvements to the barn’s Hay Loft. Building sturdy permanent ladders, replacing broken flooring and installing a hoist that’ll enable lifting heavy items up safely and efficiently to the storage space found in the hayloft.
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City cat Duke Starman helping me study.
Besides the continued physical tasks on the farm I am also taking these colder weather months to cozy up inside with a cup of Mint tea and my city cat, Duke, to really dive into the Farm’s Business plan. This year I started what I hope to be an annual event, the Farm Retreat, I took a much needed ‘Workcation’ and stayed in a Yurt on the Oregon Coast. This was my first Vacation in year and I was grateful to log off and head outside to explore a new environment. We went tide pooling at Otter Rock Beach and checked out a beach of Singing Rocks! IT WAS AMAZING. In the coming years I look forward to heading out to the beach with the Farm Crew and going over the Farm’s Business Plan and Vision. I hope the creativity and color of the beach and so many other ecosystems can help us be creative in the ways we meet members needs and the needs of those who struggle to access good, clean, whole foods.
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A view into an Oregon Coast tidepool.
I’m spending much of my winter creating marketing strategies, refining finances, developing the coming seasons crop plan and making wishlists complete with budgets for all the projects and seed purchases. I am currently enrolled in the Mercy Corps NW Business Foundations 1 and already have on my calendar the Business Plan and Business Foundations 2. Upcoming seminars about taxes, accounting, time management are all on my radar to attend in the coming year. I have learned so much and have been able to unpack what feels like an insurmountable amount of documents, research and thinking into manageable chunks that I have drafted into a timeline to hold myself accountable and actually complete.
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A view of my study nest inside our yurt.
With farming there is always this never ending list of tasks and as quickly as I can check one off a new task or two is added. It can often feel overwhelming with everything coming at me all at once. Luckily one of my strengths is good priority setting and self motivation that keeps me moving every day as my own boss. As an Outdoor Adult Educator I’ve also learned to never stop learning, so every year I’ll probably go back through the business plan and review much of the groundwork I am laying down. Just because you’ve done it once doesn’t mean you can’t learn more, improve on and grow every year. Markets fluctuate, the climate is fluctuating, my expectations fluctuate; learning is a lifelong endeavor.
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A visual of my Business Time Table
Every year this time of year you’ll probably find me on the couch, drinking tea with a cat asleep on piles of books and me jotting down notes. Clicking away on the computer improving and strengthen the vision and viable execution of this farm. Together we are creating a farm to feed our community and contribute to our food sovereignty. Thank you for joining me in this noble and necessary journey!
Cheers!
Farmer Michelle