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A Prussian General Knows You Need a Plan

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The plan never survives first contact with the enemy. – Helmuth von Moltke

Farming, like war, rarely goes according to plan. But farming, like war, rewards careful planning.

The Prussian general, Helmuth von Moltke, noted that the plan of battle never survives first contact with the enemy. But he also knew that you never to go battle without a plan.

Why do all of that planning if it doesn’t survive first contact with reality? Because it’s the process, not the plan, that really matters.

Time spent planning is time spent assessing the objectives you want to achieve, the benchmarks you’ll need to achieve along the way, the resources you can bring to bear, and the activities you will need to coordinate to get there.

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When you spend the time and focus to develop a plan, you develop a deeper relationship to the constraints and opportunities present in the field, whether it’s a field of battle, a field of vegetables or a pasture. This increased awareness helps you make better decisions when the plan inevitably doesn’t work out.

Don’t abandon planning just because your plans don’t go the way you expect them to. Plan because it provides the information you need to know if you are on track, and, if you aren’t, how to bring things back to the center when it comes to meeting your objectives.

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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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