Jen Miller, RAFFL New Farmer & Farm Fresh Connect Programs
Winter has officially arrived and the shortest day of the year is behind us. Farmers are recovering from last season and planning for the next- examining year-end financials, crop planning, budgeting, deciding on capital investments, and spending time learning and networking at workshops and conferences. Yet even with the most careful, well-laid plans, a farmers’ ability to be a flexible and nimble decision-maker, to proactively adapt to the conditions- environmental, economic, and social- of each season is a vital element in building a resilient farm business.
A resilient farm is one that has the capacity to undergo a disturbance and recover quickly, returning to a state that functions as well as the farm did pre-disturbance. Extreme weather events, local market conditions, changes in labor availability, and the state of the economy can all be sources of disturbance, stress, and shock to farm systems, interrupting the most well laid winter plans. Most of these cannot be anticipated but pre-planning, risk awareness, the development of a robust, flexible business plan, and managing land in an environmentally sustainable manner can make all the difference in the recovery process. And the period of time post-disturbance is an important learning experience- observe what prior decisions increased the resiliency of your farm, what elements of your operation could be improved to speed recovery, and even what new opportunities are unexpectedly presented.
So here’s to a productive, innovative winter of planning that includes the flexibility in decision-making required for the continued cultivation of resilient farm systems in the new year!