Latest articles


Getting ‘lean’ for farming

Small farms like Ben Hartman’s can be among the first to boost their numbers by adopting lean, but there are lessons for all

If they have heard about “lean” management, most business managers think of it in the context of lean manufacturing, a system pioneered by Japanese car maker Toyota in the 1970s. Now, however, more farmers are successfully applying lean principles to their farms, and they’re ending up with healthier balance sheets as a result. One of […] Read more


How lean farming is a little different in Europe

The European model of “lean” farming is a little different from the North American version, and although the primary focus is still eliminating waste, lean takes a more people-focused approach and shares similarities with the principles of holistic management. “The lean approach we take is more about management and people,” says Susanne Pejstrup, a Danish […] Read more



Young farmers are on board and looking ahead

Innovative training programs are raising the leadership capabilities of Canada’s youngest farmers

Imagine that tomorrow, you wake up and every commodity group and farm association you can think of needs to have an election. All their boards need entirely new directors, and there’s been a scramble to nominate the right people to fill those spots. How many of the candidates would be in their early 30s? Or […] Read more


The Farm Network takes farm food products beyond local

The Farm Network is pioneering a new category of food business, helping farmers grow their sales of local products to reach commercial scale

When Tyler Ferguson found a distinct gap in Canada’s local food system, he decided to fill it by starting his own sales, marketing and distribution company focused on getting more food products from the farm into retail. That was the first step. But only the first step. “I noticed that a lot of local food […] Read more



The leader’s job

Summer Business: Boehringer Ingelheim’s Susan Blair shares how lessons from the farm help in the corporate world, and how lessons from the boardroom can make a big difference back on the farm

Susan Blair makes her point. An organization has a much better chance of success, she says, when leadership gives clear direction to their teams about what they’re working toward and how they’re expected to achieve it. But then she follows through, because in Blair’s view, that kind of success demands leaders with values, vision, and […] Read more


Large, commercial… and organic

Agri-Fusion says its choice to go organic is a business no-brainer, with a collaborative new management design to make sure it pays

Agri-Fusion’s four owners of Quebec largest organic farm never looked back at their choice to go organic. Whether it’s wheat, corn, soybeans, beans or peas, organic crops earn them twice as much per acre as conventional crops, and they cost much less to produce. It’s a point I heard again from 67-year-old Gilles Audette, one […] Read more



The first-born quandary

What if your eldest son isn’t actually the best choice to lead your family farm into the future?

For centuries, it worked for royalty. If you happen to be the first-born son, you were on the path to the throne, no questions asked. And it happened on the farm too. The eldest son was automatically in line to take the reins when Dad got old enough that he needed to step aside. Increasingly, […] Read more


Agricultural expert inspecting quality of ripe corn

The inclusive, prosperous farm

Looking to boost your farm’s numbers? Bring a diverse work force to the job, and set them up to perform at their best

As farm businesses grow and become more complex, farmers are recognizing the importance of harnessing the full potential of the farm’s human resources. This means creating an inclusive workplace where both male and female members of the team can thrive and help the farm business meet its goals. A diverse workforce, it turns out, will […] Read more



Let’s get real on solar energy

Despite the skeptics, these two farms prove that solar energy is likely to be the foundation of our commercial farms for generations to come

In the last issue of Country Guide I made a case for solar power. I tried to show that economics of solar power are improving and that it is becoming a viable source of electricity. More importantly, I pointed out that society is demanding a switch away from fossil fuels, and that countries around the world […] Read more


A co-op for Sangudo

Times were getting tough in the rural Alberta community. Then, local farmers and businesses built a co-op to help local businesses grow and thrive

It was a scene that is all too familiar for rural communities. In 2005, the local school division threatened to close Sangudo’s high school. The move “really ticked people off,” says Dan Ohler, who lives in the area, and a “huge roomful” of people met to figure out what to do. Ohler is a certified […] Read more