When you hear "farm business management" you may think of cows and corn. Sure, as you travel the state you can see that agriculture is alive with these basic enterprises.
However, check with the Aitkin office of Farm Business Management (a Central Lakes College program) and you'll find we deal with many types of unconventional agriculture. All of it is important in the northwoods of Minnesota.
We work with an incredible variety of value-added enterprises that deserve our help. Our Farm Business Management students are starting or operating enterprises that need assistance with financial planning, business analysis and goal setting.
Yes, we are engaged in traditional agriculture -- cows and crops, to be sure -- but the most challenging and rewarding is the non-traditional assistance that is provided to atypical subjects, such as bobcats, whitetail deer, herbs, vegetables and small greenhouse operations.
Block Farms also sells antler chandeliers.
About 80 miles north of Aitkin lies a little spot in the road (not on most maps) called "Balsam." Here stands what had for years been a dairy farm. The cows are gone. Today this farm is home to bobcats, white-tailed deer, deer scent, antler chandeliers, minnows, leeches and garden vegetables.
Folks around the country have purchased house bobcats from a growing mail-order enterprise, Block Farms, rural Bovey. The 30-pound hybrid cats have been a staple product of this northwoods farm of Ron and Kathy Block for 10 years. Same for white-tailed deer, which are producers of another farm product: deer scent. And breeding bucks are sold right along with the antlers they produce, crafted artistically into decorative chandeliers, mirrors and clocks.
One of the farm's most celebrated clients is former Vikings football coach Bud Grant, who purchased an antler chandelier.
The Blocks (www.blockfarms.com) also raise garden vegetables for farmers markets, and they trap minnows and leeches for bait shops.
My travels take me to other farms that were once cows and crops but now are vegetables, flowers and small greenhouse operations. Sales from the farm and farmers markets make up a major source of income for the families enrolled.
I am working with a student at Breezy Point who is raising organic herbs for culinary purposes as well as herbal teas. This spring this entrepreneur will start a year-round greenhouse and processing plant to produce organic herbal teas.
I hope this sheds some light on "agriculture" and "farm business management" -- operations that are changing every bit as quickly as the rest of our modern world. If you want to know more about these enterprises or to arrange a farm tour call me at (218) 927-2115 extension 106, or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
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