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The Best Time to Act

When is the right time to learn Taekwondo?
Before three guys jump you in a dark alley.

When is the right time to invest in the hardware and operational systems for an irrigation system?
Before the drought sets in.

When is the right time to establish boundaries with your children?Before they get to high school.

When is the right time to forge a good working relationship with your employees?
Before the harvest season kicks in.

9055453_origWhen is the best time to build a fence?
Before the cows are out.

When is the right time to upgrade your food safety practices?
Before the government or your customers demand them (and certainly before an outbreak is traced back to your operation!).

When is the right time to talk to the bank about a line of credit?
When you have so much money that you don’t need to borrow any.

Of course, it tends to be when you’re standing there staring at three guys with scowls and big sticks that we think to ourselves, “I wish…”

So much of farming and farm life is about preparation and anticipation – it’s actually something we’re pretty good at, as farmers. When’s the right time to plant lettuce seeds? About ten weeks before you want to pick it. The trick is transferring this understanding to the other important areas of the farm: the business, the infrastructure, and the family life.

This is why I encourage my clients, right from day one, to:

  • Keep detailed financial records and create the three annual financial reports – a balance sheet, an income statement, and a monthly statement of cash flows;
  • Keep detailed production records, even if you aren’t certified organic;
  • Schedule time with children and spouses, even when, if time was measured in nickels, you wouldn’t have two to rub together;
  • Write a business plan, even if you aren’t taking it to the  bank or investors;
  • Put time into training employees – especially supervisors! – even if you are bringing people on during the spring rush.
  • Build fences and handling systems that take future growth into account and accommodate worst-case scenarios like floods and overgrown grasses.

(It’s also interesting to note that practice is not just about managing the big scary things – it also has a way of making your business, and your life, better as you go through it.)

What are you doing to anticipate and avert potential crises on your farm?

Welcome, Chris Blanchard!
Welcome, Chris Blanchard!

Help us welcome Chris Blanchard of Purple Pitchfork. Chris is an expert in helping folks in agriculture manage their businesses.  For even more, check out his “Farmer to Farmer” Podcast.


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Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard provides consulting and education for farming, food, and business through Purple Pitchfork. As the owner and operator of Rock Spring Farm since 1999, Chris raised twenty acres of vegetables, herbs, and greenhouse crops, marketed through a 200-member year-round CSA, food stores, and farmers markets. He has also managed student farms, worked as an intern, packing house manager, plant breeding assistant, and farm manager, and provided consulting for a major organic processor, in California, Wisconsin, Maine, and Washington state. His workshops, writing, and consulting throughout the country about farm business concepts, food safety, organic vegetable production, and scaling-up have gained a reputation for fresh approaches, down-to-earth information, and honesty. While Chris focuses on produce, his business experience is invaluable to anyone in agriculture. For more, visit his website, AND check out his Farmer to Farmer Podcast.

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