Last year, when we were new to City Beet and I was thinking about what might go on an urban farming blog, the main thing that came to mind was ‘how to’ posts about various farming and gardening tasks. There was just one problem: as a new farmer with virtually zero past experience, what the heck advice could I give anyone?! And so, the idea for this post was born. While I didn’t know much about running a farm yet, I did know about deciding to buy a farm business.
Of course, in my case, the serious answer to this question includes having a lot of socioeconomic privilege and the freedom to make somewhat risky personal and career choices. I am very grateful for this privilege and hope I don’t take it for granted. That being said, there were some other elements of the decision-making process I would like to document.
Without further ado, here is How to Decide to Buy a Farm (when you have no farming experience):
Have a quarter life crisis
By which I mean, for the first quarter of your life, be in a perpetual state of existential crisis, not ‘arrive at the quarter-mark of your life and promptly undergo a crisis,’ although I suppose this option would work too. It also helps to be in a transitional phase anyway, say having just finished your masters and doing random short-term contracts for work, for example.
(Pictured: me, graduating from my masters at home on my couch. Wearing a cap Duncan made me for the occasion).
- Have your sister tag you in a ‘Farm for Sale!’ announcement on Instagram. This step is pretty key, otherwise how will you know there is a farm for sale?
- Make a joke about the aforementioned quarter life crisis in the comments section, then go back to scrolling listlessly through Instagram.
- Do not, to your surprise, forget about the Instagram post. Spend a large amount of time stewing on whether or not you should, in fact, become an urban farmer.
- Ask your sister if she was joking or if she really thinks You Can Do It. When she responds with the latter, convert your stewing into meaningful contemplation and wondering.
- Ask your Yiddish class for advice. At the time, your once-a-week Zoom Yiddish class, taught by the inimitable Sheva Zucker, is writing letters to an imaginary advice columnist as an exercise. Take this opportunity to get advice from a class full of near-strangers, in Yiddish, about whether or not you should buy a farm. They will, for the most part, be very supportive, and some of them will even offer to move to Vancouver to work on your farm. (Pictured: the Yiddish homework)
- Ask your partner, who has previously given up urban farming as a career path so you assumed he wouldn’t want to go in on this with you, for a pep talk to convince you You Can Do It. He will deliver such an excellent pep talk that he convinces himself to go in on it with you. You are no longer alone in this endeavour.
- This step is a little corny, but I’m being transparent about the process here so I can’t leave it out: Lie on your couch and listen to ‘Hands in the Garden’ by Half Moon Run. Make sure you lie very still and that your eyes are closed. You have always found this song very beautiful and evocative and it fills you with a calm sense of hope and determination.
And there you have it! You have decided to buy an urban farm. Of course, you still need to go through all the steps of actually buying the farm, but that’s a different How To list.
A shot from our self-guided Due Diligence tour of some of the City Beet yards.
Would love to see City Beet Farm grow beyond Riley Park, Mount Pleasant and Southlands neighbourhoods. I have an aging father who hates gardening. He’s living in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. I would love to see the garden put to good use. Thank you so much for the inspiring work you are doing.