Terra Park and Rob Jay
Connection to the land and the community drives this couple
Terra Park and Rob Jay, owner-operators of Terra Firma Farms, are leaders in the organic, small farm movement, and they were recognized by the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year for 2017. Terra Firma is active within the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative.
Kootenay Business magazine includes Park and Jay among its Top 10 business people for 2018. Park responded in writing to a few questions.
In what year did you found your farm?
2010. We started small and hoped we could generate some income in our first year, but knew we would both need off-farm income to make it viable. Our business has incrementally grown each year and we are now substantially larger than when we started, with less reliance on off-farm income.
How did you overcome your doubts in the early days?
We were so passionate about what we were doing that we would do everything we could to make it work—perhaps a little naively, but it all worked out.
What was the first real evidence that your business was going to “make it”?
One of the ways we sell our produce is through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box program. The program is a direct relationship between a local farm and its community, helping to provide a portion of a given farm’s operating budget by purchasing shares of the season’s harvest in advance of the growing season. In our second year of the program, we had an over 90 per cent retention rate which is much higher than the industry standard. At this point, we realized we were on the right track and that our customers really did believe in us.
What business accomplishment are you most proud of?
Getting positive feedback from our customers is really what keeps us going; having that direct relationship makes that possible.
What practical advice would you give to another entrepreneur?
Passion is everything! If you really believe in what you are doing it makes the work that much easier.
What are five words that belong in your own personal definition of success?
Enjoyment, momentum, meaningful, satisfaction and integrity.
Beyond the products you provide, what do you think is the most important thing your company contributes to its customers?
People want to be connected to the land and the people that are growing or raising their food. It had always been important to us to sell locally for that reason. We feel deeply connected to our community and customers. We feel so grateful to be able to experience that connection, and I think it goes both ways.
Why do you think you were selected as Business of the Year?
Perhaps our involvement in the community. We host an annual fundraiser dinner on the farm to raise funds for our Local Food Initiative, host school field trips and were involved in the creation of a second farmer's market in Revelstoke.