If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.— Yogi Berra
Do you ever feel like you are working really hard and going nowhere? Do you know where you want to go with your farm or homestead? Are you reaching your goals?
If it is depressing to even start thinking about the answers to those questions, it might be time to create a mission statement for your farm. I know what you’re thinking — but I don’t have time to do anything else! Before you decide I’m nuts and head off to read another blog, you should know that there are some distinct benefits to creating a mission statement. It can help you make better use of your time and set goals that are on target.
Ohio State University Extension says that businesses with a mission statement are more successful than those without one:
It does not matter whether the farm business consists of two people or 50, all involved must have a clear understanding of what the business does and why they do it in order to move the business in the desired direction.
What does a mission statement do? The Northeast Beginning Farmer’s Project says:
A mission statement incorporates important values for the business into a succinct statement that identifies the purpose and vision of the business. It doesn’t need to include any specific information about your products. In fact, it might help guide your choices of products. Think of it as one of the cornerstones of your farm. You also don’t have to get it perfect right away – it may evolve over time.
So, what exactly is a mission statement? According to Ohio State:
A mission statement is a short statement describing
the fundamental underlying reason for the business to
exist — its critical purpose. This statement aligns what
the business says it does, what it actually does, and what
others believe it does. It clarifies what the business is not
trying to do and not trying to be.
This statement is a reflection of the underlying values,
goals, and purposes of the farm and of the management
A mission statement only needs to be one to three sentences. Here is an example of a mission statement from Red Fire Farm in Massachusetts:
The mission of Red Fire Farm is to be a year-round local source for high quality food and ornamental crops grown at our farm using organic principles that result in safe food and a healthy environment. Through innovative marketing strategies, we provide an exciting shopping experience and educate our community about the benefits of eating locally grown foods during all four seasons. We seek to achieve these goals for the community while providing fulfilling and sustainable careers for the farmers.
Working on your mission statement doesn’t have to be a tedious event where everyone sits around the table hashing out the sentences. You can start by simply asking yourself and family members to think about your philosophy and goals for your farm. A good time to do that is when you are actually working outside. Ask yourself why you do things the way you do them. How do your beliefs and values affect what you do?
And don’t worry about getting it right. A mission statement can be changed if you find that it doesn’t work for you or if your values and philosophy change.