Ever wondered what our work actually looks like? We love how these photos from an advising session with Teresa, John and Mike of Fifth Crow Farm illustrate the personalized nature of how we help our clients. Below are four key principles that guide our business advising sessions.
#1: Go where the farmers are.
Farmers have crazy schedules. The cycles of growing are constant, and days are long. More often than not, you'll find Anthony (or one of our volunteer farm advisors) on site at the farm, or meeting in their homes. These face-to-face meetings are essential for building trust and understanding of the business, and the farmers who run them.
#2: Ask questions. Lots of questions.
We ask lots of questions. Then we listen, reflect back, and ask more questions.
We don't tell the farmers we work with that they should run their farms this way or that way. Instead, we offer a sounding board to think through their business issues, as well as ask questions that challenge their assumptions and help them think critically about key business decisions.
#3: Good data helps make good decisions.
Information is power.
During our advising sessions, we spend time looking over the farm's financial statements, and cash flow projections to help our clients understand the full scope of their business and make informed decisions. We are in a unique position to do this, since we have deep knowledge of our client farms and can share examples of how other farms have tackled similar situations. It helps the farmers we work with to know that they are not alone in their challenges, and these discussions can often spark new ideas and approaches.
#4: Support is ongoing, rather than a one-time fix.
Farming is a dynamic business with so many variables - weather, crops, and markets to name a few - so it's critical for us to be available to our farmers for whatever pops up. Sometimes we will simply have monthly check-ins with a client. During other times, we will be on the phone with them weekly to help troubleshoot and think through strategies and action plans.
It's about being responsive, proactive, and supportive so that in the end, our farmers have a better shot at long-term success.
Photos of our client, Fifth Crow Farm, courtesy of our awesome volunteer photographer, Jonathan Fong.