Business Planning · Farmers · Government Agencies

AgAware/Agsouth

Bee on lavender, June 2016

The school year is over, JROTC camp is over, hubby is on vacation, and we are very much looking forward to waking up on our own land.   We still have water and septic lines to finish up and bees to move, but when a friend told us about a couple of workshops this week, we felt attending them was well worth delaying other projects, and we were right.

Yesterday we attended the Team Agriculture Georgia (TAG) Workshop for Small, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers.   We learned a lot about the resources (financial and other) available to us.  Even though hubby’s degrees are in business, farming is a different kind of business than the ones he studied in school.  AgSouth offers many courses at no cost to farmers, some of which help you qualify for FSA loans.  I have four typed pages of notes just about creating a business plan.   One of the things that stood out to me from the AgSouth presentation is that we need to move our mindset away from bee-keeping as a hobby and toward bee-keeping as a business.   While I’ve thought of it as a business, the presentation made me realize that I was actually still mentally in hobby mode.   Our conversations since yesterday have been productive.   Something as simple as setting a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed  (a SMART goal) instead of having a general goal of wanting “more” bees and honey has made me think deeply.

The afternoon session we attended informed us about USDA programs available.   The Natural Resources Conservation Service is there to help private landowners make good conservation decision, and they will come to your farm to make suggestions about all kinds of things.  One of the things mentioned was “herbaceous weed control” and we’re wondering if they’d have suggestions as to how to get rid of the blackberries and those spiny vines!

The first session we attended was about honey bees and other pollinators.  While we already knew much of what was discussed, we did pick up some good additional information and it stroked our egos to realize how much we do know!   We also got some ideas about services we can possibly offer to farmers and beginning bee-keepers in our area.

Today we attended an AgAware Marketing Seminar that was replete with information and resulted in another 4 pages of typed notes in addition to hubby’s notes.   When he finally makes it home through the wind, and the rain, and the downed trees, and downed power lines (it’s been a long, interesting trip home for him), we’ll combine notes and discuss which of the many things we want to research from both days to prioritize.

If anyone is interested, I’d be glad to share my notes, but I strongly recommend attending workshops like these, especially if you are just getting started, or even just thinking about, building an agriculture business of any size.   We learned so much and we are so excited to refine our business plan.

Other news that I still need to blog about:  we harvested our first honey, we waterproofed the RV roof, we dug trenches for water lines, and we drank from our well.  It’s been an exciting few weeks!  My brain has been rebelling against putting anything into complete sentences or proof-reading, but I’m ready to start writing again now.

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