Heather Driscoll, Green Valley Farm, LLC
Heather Driscoll grew up on a dairy farm and always knew she wanted a farm of her own, so in 2007 she and her husband purchased 30 acres of farmland in Connecticut. While still working as a paralegal, Heather stared a farrow-to-finish pig farming operation. Heather’s dream was to make a living farming, so they started to sell their products (Berkshire Pigs) locally, but she had no idea how to price them, and didn’t have a handle on how much her actual costs were. As a result, the farm was struggling to break even.
“Without the program, I wouldn’t be able to make a living farming.”
Then Heather enrolled in HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Women in the Northeast program. “It gave me everything I needed to take my farm to the next level and run it like a business,” says Heather.
The three areas of Holistic Management training Heather found most helpful were financial planning, marketing, and the decision making framework. Holistic Financial Planning allowed her to understand what her actual costs were and to track them down to the penny. She realized that when grain prices went up, she needed to raise her prices, and when it went down, she could lower her prices and pass the savings on to her customers. Today, Heather sells to local restaurants as well as families that care about the quality of their food and are willing to pay more for flavorful pork raised more humanely and without chemicals, nitrogen, antibiotics and hormones. HMI also taught Heather how to market her product through her website, social media, and local shops.
“Every year, we are getting more profits and more clients.”
Heather and her husband Daniel use the Holistic Management decision making process to evaluate major decisions, such as purchasing a tractor. They realized that they could not sustain the cost of the payments and decided not to purchase the tractor. “It kept us from making a bad investment choice,” says Heather, who is currently using the Holistic Management decision making tool to evaluate the possibility of putting in a store at the farm.
“I don’t want to see the farms disappear,” says Heather. “I want people to have what I have… to be able to make a living and feed people healthy food. Our farm now sustains itself. There is a huge benefit to programs like this. There are lots of people that want to farm, but they have no idea how to run a business and they need training. Education is the most important thing for any business… and farming is a business.”