This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Faires Farms.
Faires Farms is a diversified organic farm growing a full range of vegetables and herbs and we sell them direct to the consumer through our delivery service.
About Your Organization
Canada, BC, Nanaimo
Country where this solution is creating social impact
Canada, BC, Parksville
Region in BC where your solution creates social impact
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: Describe the need for your solution and the size and characteristics of the community(ies) your solution is engaging
We grow food for a region that has a population of 240,000 people. The demand for local, fresh, sustainable food is enormous, partly because we live on an island with almost no food security. Vancouver Island farms produce only 5% of the food, when it could be monumentally more. Not only this, consumers want safe, natural food that is direct from someone they know and trust. Farmer's markets sell out every week, and our subscription waiting list is incredibly long.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our farm uses innovative, sustainable growing practices that are on the cutting edge of organic production. We grow on land that is typically thought of as unsuitable for agriculture, and in fact our current property had no soil at all. Our current 1/3 acre produces 10,000 pounds of food to feed 400 people during the summer season. We believe that we can singlehandedly change the food security on the island by using our intensive model and making it bigger.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include the primary activities involved in your solution.
Our farm uses intensive growing practices designed to reduce risk. We grow under plastic year round for every crop, and we interplant crops to increase yield. For example, we grow radishes in the same space as cucumbers and beets. We gather food waste from our subscribers and return it to the soil it came from, which significantly helps us maintain the soil. This is important since we are growing crops very quickly all year round - sometimes four or more crops in a bed in a year. We believe that this growing method, which so far has not used any petroleum at all, is a viable, profitable solution to the local food crises.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others working to address the same needs as you and indicate what sets you apart from them.
There are many local organic farms, and sustainable growing initiatives such as SPIN farming, the farmer's markets, and delivery services like SPUD. Our farm is different in the way we grow things. We grow more in the same space, with very low overhead, and we experience few pests even though we are organic. Our prices are on par with the grocery store, which makes it affordable for the average family, and in fact most of our customers are middle class families on a budget. Most of our competitors are selling at a premium for the natural or organic label, but we don't even though our standards are high. Most of the farmers we know are not profitable despite the high prices they charge, and this is what makes them unsustainable.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
I (Nicole) had always been a food activist and sustainability writer, but it wasn't until I began analyzing the state of small farms today with my experienced business manager husband, John, that I realized how bad the situation really is. In that moment we recognized both a major problem and an opportunity for change. Very few young people consider agriculture as a career, and we believe that we have the perfect set of skills to pioneer a clear path towards a sustainable, food secure future. Modern farming needs two things: better growing methods and better business practices. This is what we are creating.
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Our farm pioneers growing and business practices that create a template for other young people to follow. In the process we are also building food security on Vancouver Island. We want to singlehandedly raise the bar from 5%. We can currently produce enough vegetables to feed approximately 1200 people per acre. If we had 20 acres we could feed 10% of the urban population we serve.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In the short time we have been farming professionally, we can now currently feed approximately 400 people all of their vegetables on 1/3 acre, including 5 families in dire straits who would be eating canned goods from the overburdened food bank. Our internship program has comprehensively trained six young people in our growing practices, a couple of whom are on disability and had no career prospects. Our food is gourmet quality and distributed to people who can't get to the farmer's market because they have young children or work, and has made buying local a little more affordable.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
In the next five years we want to expand 30 times our current size, implement a better year-round system, and create a better, university-quality training program for young people interesting in farming. To do this we will be purchasing a permanent land base, building an aquaponics system, and a large dorm.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Land access is always a problem. We can make a profit, but gathering together the capital to buy expensive island real estate is a challenge. We lease our land from trustworthy people, but we are limited by our non-ownership. This affects what we build, how we use the water, and the amount of traffic we can have.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Produce an overabundance of food for the 2012 growing season.
Implement our free range chicken project.
Keep overhead low to save up our down payment for land. The farm will buy its own land.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Move the farm and begin growing. Build infrastructure, barn, dorms for interns, etc.
Create a more formal educational program for interns. Improve and expand distribution.
Tell us about your partnerships
We currently have no partnerships. We are looking for them.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?
We currently serve the entire central and northern end of Vancouver Island. In the future we would like to serve Victoria as well, since we have customers driving down to pick up food from us. This is another reason for expansion.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
Our team has been working together for 5 years at a non-profit which worked to improve the lives of impoverished people in the third world. All of our workers either live in our house or nearby, and we include everyone in many of the idea brainstorming session we host once a week. We purse farming as a business, not a lifestyle, and our crew acts as a community of individuals pulling towards a common goal. We are not a work camp, and everyone enjoys what we do.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
We feel that we are pretty good at marketing and we know some things about agriculture. We are willing to share information to others. What we really need is some expansion capital and networking with individuals who can help get us to our goal.
|47 weeks ago fairesfarms said: As we grow we would like to do all of those things more, but right now we are very focused on developing our internship program. In the ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|47 weeks ago Amanda Armstrong said: This is a really great idea and it looks like you have lots of social impact. Is there one specific area that you're focused on as you ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|51 weeks ago Susan Roth said: I looked over your website. It is extremely well done! Consumers want to be able to easily navigate websites and yours fits the bill. ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|51 weeks ago fairesfarms said: It's definitely interesting. We have an online market and a distribution system, and we're working on bringing more farms in this ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|51 weeks ago fairesfarms said: It's definitely interesting. We already have an online market and we have a distribution system, and we have been working on bringing ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|51 weeks ago Susan Roth said: I read that you could use more land for growing food. In another submission made by a Port Alberni group a need for funding to help ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|53 weeks ago fairesfarms updated this Competition Entry.|
|53 weeks ago fairesfarms submitted this idea.|