The HVADC Cultivator
Julia Shanks works with the participants
of the Making It Happen Workshop
Making It Happen Participants discuss case studies in the March 1st workshop.
Making it Happen, HVADC and the Carrot Project
offer profitability and success training for food producers.
Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) hosted the second part of a two-part workshop program “Making It Happen: Profitability and Success,” on March 1 at Columbia Greene Community College in Hudson. This was the second session of the program, which kicked off February 15. The training was designed to give food producers the ability to use four core financial management tools to improve business decision-making. The workshop series offered in conjunction with The Carrot Project are intended for food producers with at least one year of operating experience, and are approved as a USDA Farm Service Agency borrower training program. Julia Shanks, Senior Business Advisor from The Carrot Project presented information, along with two past workshop farm participants. As a hands-on, interactive, skills-based training program, participants had the opportunity to review video lessons before the training begins, in order to prepare for the classes.
Shanks works with food businesses and farms to help them maximize profits and streamline operations through business planning, feasibility studies and operational audits at The Carrot Project. Participants learn and apply financial management tools to their business that will help them answer questions such as: “Can I pay my bills?," “Is a capital investment worth it?,” "Is this the right price?,” or “Should I add a new product line?" Shanks also teaches college accounting, and is a book author as well.
Since 2010, The Carrot Project has worked toward creating a sustainable local farm and food economy for farmers in the Hudson Valley and New England. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, their work facilitates access to financing and business support to enable small farm and food businesses to grow into thriving and enduring enterprises. The Carrot Project makes long-term investments in the “building blocks” of the food system that contribute to healthful food for consumers, a replenished environment, and strengthened regional and local economies.
“Being able to partner with The Carrot Project and other like-minded groups helps HVADC continue to present timely and quality training for food producers on a variety of business topics and supports our mission to promote the growth of agricultural entrepreneurship here in The Valley,” said Mary Ann Johnson, HVADC’s Deputy Director. HVADC is also currently offering a six-part Local Lamb Lessons workshop series which continues through May.
Dominque De Vito, a workshop participant, is co-owner of the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, which sells a variety of wines as well other locally produced craft beverages and artisanal foodstuffs like cheeses, maple syrup, mustards, cookies, and crackers. De Vito said the workshop made the topic of financial management “accessible and interesting.” De Vito related that, “I was inspired to return to my business and start applying the lessons and rethinking things. There were very useful break-out sessions where we worked in small groups to talk through issues that are common to farms. The discussions both in the group and between the other groups and instructors was really helpful in getting more comfortable asking more questions and looking at things from different angles - and then learning how to plug in numbers associated with the issues. Very useful. Great discussion among participants, too.”
In addition to HVADC, other supporters of Making It Happen include Northeast Extension Risk Management Education, the USDA, and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). Questions regarding the program should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information may be found at www.thecarrotproject.org.