Agricultural & Farm Marketing Solutions for Family Farmers
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GFP 013: Organizing Your Thoughts for a Successful Farm, Michael Ableman Author and Farmer, Sole Food Farm, Vancouver, BC

growing farms podcastShow summary:

Keeping organized is critical when running a farm. There are simply too many things to manage to be disorganized. Keeping it all in your head is not an option, because no matter how good you think you are, you are going to forget things.

The good news is you don’t have to break the bank. You hardly have to spend any money at all. The investment you will be making in your farm is a little time up front to save you loads of time down the road.

I never go anywhere without my trusty notebook. One subject graph, quadrille ruled, inexpensive notebook that I got from Staples. It is on my person at all times. I meet too many people, manage too many projects, and have to remember too many things not to have something to write it all down in.

I am not saying you have to run out and buy this notebook specifically, but I am suggesting you get something to write down your thoughts in. It could be a one-subject notebook, or something that you can stick in your pocket.

I have a few more organizational tools that I cover in today’s agricultural podcast. Managing all the projects we as farmers have to manage is tough, but keep organized and you will be fine.

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In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • Where soil comes from on an urban farm
  • Manageing staff
  • Significance of marketing
  • Farmers’ market sales techniques
  • The importance of staying organized

Interview with Michael Ableman Sole Food Urban Farm

michael ableman foxglove farm bc sole food farm

I have a lot of respect for Michael. I took this picture of him at the Salt Spring Island farmers’ market. I learned a lot just watching him in action, and it was nice that I also got to ask questions while I was there. Note: This whole picture = good farm marketing. Beautiful display of produce, information about the products, farm name on printed sign in large font, information about other services the farm offers. Even right down to Michael’s clean shaven, put together appearance. He pulls off looking like a farmer, while not looking like he just rolled in the dirt and hasn’t washed his hair.

Michael’s photographs have appeared in publications throughout the world and in solo exhibitions at the Oakland Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Field Museum in Chicago.

He has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. and in Europe. His work has been covered in National Geographic, on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, in the Utne Reader, Gourmet Magazine, and the L.A. Times. An award-winning film about Ableman’s work, Beyond Organic, narrated by Meryl Streep aired nationally on PBS in 2001.

Ableman has received numerous awards including the 2001 “Sustie” Award for his work in sustainable agriculture, Eating Well magazine’s 1995 Food Hero Award, and the 1997 Environmental Leadership Award from the governor of the state of California.

bicycle touring farm visit

We took our bikes on the ferry to visit Michael. He lives on top of a mountain, which would have been fine if our bikes hadn’t weighed so much. Definitely worth the trek though.

fields of plenty how to start a farm

We got to see the van he drove across country visiting farms to write his book “Fields of Plenty. A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it.” He offered to trade us for our bikes, we declined. Though, it would have been cool.

farm apprentice farm intern

Michael’s farm is beautiful. He brought that dedication to aesthetic to the Sole Food Urban Farm project. Everything is neat and organized, and well tended. An organized farm is a successful farm.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

What tools do you use to keep organized?

How can increasing your organizational skills benefit your farm?

What is your future timeline for starting or expanding your farm?

My skills are ever-evolving as an interviewer. Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a rating in iTunes if you liked the show.

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