Navigating the Twists & Turns of 2021 The Future of The Farm
Since taking on the farm alone in summer 2018, I have successfully evolved the holding from being just a smallholding and family home to a thriving rural business, with a focus on great food, boutique accommodation, quirky shop, and beautiful, productive gardens away from the world to be enjoyed in peace and tranquillity.
I have overseen a huge shift in the farms fortunes, turning it from a place that was heavily in debt and lost money . . . every . . . single . . . week . . . into business that broke even and eventually became profitable by the end of 2019. 2020 was going to be a great year, where the long-term future of the farm would be secured. But then . . . oh! Hello Coronavirus.
2020 was incredibly challenging. Not only has the boutique B&B been closed for the entire year, the tearoom and shop that previously paid for the farm’s losses, has also been unable to trade, meaning both the B&B and my other service businesses must depend on different avenues of income, this website being one of them, and whatever Covid-19 restricted trade I can generate to survive.
At the time of writing, I am closed to the public and expect to be so until at least March. Or longer. With all my workshops and events cancelled for another year - losses I will struggle for a second year to sustain.
The ongoing covid crisis continues to threaten the future of the farm.
The first hurdle to get over in 2021 was to save the farm from repossession which after successfully negotiating a new finance package with the bank I have managed to secure our future here… For now!
This is just the beginning of a new journey. With this new finance came very hefty fees which on top of the farms running costs I have now drained all the resources I had so, financially I am back too square one. Very soon the new loan will need to be maintained.
Having explored the grants available for covid hit businesses I’ve been told I’m not eligible to claim any kind of financial support. I could however apply for government supported debt – debt on top of debt for a business that is not trading and has no means to support the repayments just didn’t seem like an option for me.
I have been asked many times why I don’t set up a crowd funder, my reasons are many…
It’s always been my philosophy that whilst I have a working bone in my body and my mind can create viable ways to bring in an income by expanding on what I’m doing, through diversification, starting something completely new and I can bring value to other peoples lives then I will work for the money that comes into my life. There are so many worth while causes that need support and have no means other than to raise money through crowd funding. I am in a good position, I have resources (in my mind, anyone with a phone and cheap laptop can make money these days if they put the work in), I’m not afraid of hard work and will get on with it for as long as I'm able.
Setting up, running and follow-up of a crowd fund takes up a lot of time and there are costs involved – that time could be spent working on a project that could bring in a long-term reoccurring income which will be much more beneficial in the long run.
Where a crowd fund can bring in a one-time cash injection that may cover the cost of one project or problem, my circumstances at the farm are ongoing. There are many problems, so much essential work that needs doing and projects such as the gardens need more than one small cash injection.
I need to focus on the long term and building sustainable income streams that mean I won’t get stuck in a few months’ time when the money runs out!
So, I’m thinking sideways to create new revenue to keep the farm running.
One of my new projects is Join Me in The Snug. This is something I’m incredibly excited about but nervous at the same time! It’s all about my current story and journey in real time, it’s a place where I speak openly and intimately about everything that’s going on at the farm this year.
I invite followers to watch me navigate through what is set to be the most crucial year yet for my farm, how I’m re-building my service businesses with all the new regulations coming in to play, a chance to look behind the scenes of my most important business, how I intend to make my gardens profitable, how I deal with tough times and loads more. I’ve packed it full of content and also include weekend stays at the farm, discounts and a quarterly hamper filled with seasonal gifts from the farm.
Someone asked me recently.. “What if you fail?” Well, if I don’t hit my targets, reach my goals and ultimately fail – I’ll be doing it publicly and I hope many people will learn from my mistakes. Either way I hope to add value to other peoples lives, maybe even inspire some to realise their own goals and dreams and in return the income generated from this project will go along way to filling the gap of a second year of lost revenue that is vital to the farm.
I am regularly sent messages from very kind people asking if I accept donations, this is something I have been uncomfortable agreeing to (perhaps a pride thing) and I usually direct people to the gift voucher page on my website, that way I feel like I can give back in the future if the gift vouchers are ever redeemed.
However, I understand some people don’t want the vouchers and are just happy to support my ongoing work for all the rescue animals I have and the future of the farm.
After giving this a lot of thought (and swallowing my pride) I am now very gratefully accepting kind donations to help Dardarroch Farm survive the very difficult year ahead.
Any money raised from donations will be used to pay for fodder, suppliers, vet fees, fixed costs and anything to support the farm going forward.
I run a tight ship and I’m working closely with my creditors to keep everyone happy - but anything I can raise will help ease the pressure on the farm, and the whole network of small businesses and individuals that make up my wider business family.
I am certain, that when the farm can reopen under restrictions or under no Covid restrictions at all, that Dardarroch Farm will be quickly reestablished as a profit making concern - your donations will be used to help me keep my business and suppliers up and running until then.
If you would like to make a donation please do so by PayPal using my PayPal email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively Join me in the snug but buckle up it could be a bumpy ride as I navigate the twists and turns of 2021!