Thursday, March 11, 2010

Farm Mission Statement

Every farm, gardener or landowner should have a mission statement!

Now, I know that you think. I have waded through the deep mud too much this winter and lost my mind, or I am still goofy from being knocked down by a cow last fall. However, really all planning begins with a mission statement.

What is a mission statement? It is, in simple terms, a statement about what you plan to do. It is based on your values and personal vision.

Now stay with me; I’m not trying to get all touchy-feely! Your mission statement says what you do and gives insight to what is important to you. We find ourselves going in fifteen different directions and we lose track of what we really set out to accomplish. In our recent Grow Your Farm courses, I met Paul, who owns a very successful garden store in southeast Missouri. His mission statement is “We grow flowers and friends.” What can we learn from his mission statement? We know that Paul’s customers are very important to him. I learned that Paul’s business prides itself in customer service and having everything the grower needs at the highest quality.

We see mission statements all the time from big business. Lots of times it seems as if the statement was written more to impress someone than to describe the business. However, a mission statement should reflect your values and be written for your benefit. Let me give you a few examples of mission statements:

1) ”Our goal is to provide the highest quality vegetables for our customers by growing unique, fresh vegetables that are healthy and raised in an environmentally responsible way”.

2) “We want to produce quality feeder cattle that perform in the feedlot and yield a high quality carcass resulting in an excellent product for beef consumers.”

3) “I want to grow a garden to provide safe, wholesome, and nutritional food for my family.”

4) “We plan to establish a vineyard to produce specialty grapes for local wineries and to supplement our income in retirement.”

Once you write a mission statement, write goals based on that statement.  So the next time you are riding on the tractor, cutting the grass, or working in the garden, think about your mission statement. A good mission statement can help you focus on what you really want to accomplish and more efficiently use time, money and other resources.  (Dean Wilson, Jefferson County Extension Center and facilitator of one of the many Grow Your Farm courses across the state.)

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