Start Steering your Ship with a Whole Farm Goal

Have you ever been out in your field weeding or moving fence for the next pasture in your rotation and suddenly wondered what the heck you were doing this all for anyway?  Maybe you remember having a purpose this past Spring, or maybe you started your farm with some clear ideals in mind.  But at the height of the season, with hundreds of decisions to make on the spot and hundreds of things that need to be done, the “Why?” to what you do may become elusive.

In the class “Growing Places” offered by the Women’s Ag Network of UVM Extension (but open to all regardless of gender), one of the first assignments is to create a Whole Farm Goal.  “Growing Places” is a 6 session class for aspiring farmers, which helps individuals get the tools and knowledge they need to plan their future ag businesses.

Now “goal” can mean different things, and to many it implies a thing that once achieved is complete.  In the context of your farm, this goal setting creates the center around which all your activities revolve.   It is a vision and a mission and something that farmers return to regularly to guide their daily decisions and long-term planning.  A Whole Farm Goal encompasses more than just the business side of your farm.  It also includes the aspirations you have for yourself, your family, your community and the environment.

Thinking about your Whole Farm Goal is the first step.  But make sure to take the next step, and write it down.  Share it with your family, get input from your friends, and continue to fine tune this document until it reflects what is most important to you.  Gaining this clarity will help you in all of your immediate and future decisions, and is the first step toward a strong business plan and long-term sustainability for your farm.

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About Jessie Schmidt

Ag and Community Program Coordinator for the University of Vermont Extension.
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