Rick Goodall is a second-generation farmer in Arriola, CO, whose family grew apples and raised livestock. He married Gerrie twenty-two years ago. That’s when Gerrie was first introduced to farming. While expecting their second child, Gerrie chose to stay at home to raise the children, but the tradeoff was the loss of a second income. Gerrie considered her options and decided to plant a garden. Her first harvest was plentiful, yet it yielded a tremendous amount of zucchini. A friend recommended she sell it at the Dolores Farmers Market, which she did. Gerrie loved the experience and realized a larger market garden would bring in more income and provide food for her family.
In the coming years her garden and family expanded. The farm was renamed to Bountiful Ridge Farm (BRF) in 2013 and filed as an LLC in 2014. Gerrie had worked with a regional program whose purpose was to grow local food for local people. BRF also participated in a farmer’s coop to supply stores, restaurants and individuals. The experience helped her understand how to produce food in volume with larger scale planning. Gerrie said, “we found our sales were good but the money wasn’t there. Rick wanted to expand and build an apple shed.” The couple went to First Southwest Bank to inquire about a loan. They met a loan officer named Cassie. She wanted to know about the Goodall’s business experience, which at the time was a basic working knowledge from farming. Cassie suggested Rick and Gerrie call Liz Ross at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to supplement their experience. Liz referred the Goodalls to Cindy Dvergsten, who recommended they sign up for the January 2017 Leading Edge (LE) program. Cindy is a management consultant and SBDC advisor. She specializes in sustainable development and helps client acquire decision making skills that allow them to be socially, economically and environmentally sound.
The LE program’s objective is to educate entrepreneurs on the multifaceted aspects of business while providing instruction on how to complete a personalized business plan. The program offers one on one counseling with SBDC advisors of various business backgrounds. The Goodalls met with Cindy several times. “She gave so much clarity and understanding. She explained the importance of having a business plan and what to present to a bank.”
Gerrie’s biggest take away was to look at her farm as six different entities, not one. BRF had orchards, a market garden, hens, Heritage pigs and lamb, and raw milk dairy production. “I didn’t realize the importance to break up the farm because each entity has to stand on its own. If an entity can’t sustain itself, I either have to change or eliminate it.”
LE taught them how to analyze and solve problems while spreadsheet software was utilized to forecast their finances. Gerrie learned each farm entity was viable, but some would take several years before a profit would be realized. “Banks want to know what you can do. The LE instruction helped us secure a loan to purchase a refrigeration unit.”
In November, the Rick and Gerrie took a course partially sponsored by SBDC, and was taught by Holistic Management International (HMI). HMI is an organization that teaches a philosophy on how to make decisions that honor what you stand for. Specifically, the program incorporates the personal and business sides of life, socioeconomic factors and what the biological impacts are from the decisions people make. “When we make conscious decisions on how to do things better, it’s for generations to come. We want to give back to the land, give back to the animals, and not just take. We consider what effect our family’s decisions can have on our community, our state and our country. It is important to do for the long term and to do it well.”
Gerrie concluded, “SBDC is an invaluable resource. If there is an issue with marketing, I can call them at any time. There is an ongoing learning curve to keep our farm viable and sustainable. It has been a night and day experience with SBDC from a year ago.”