WHAT'S THE LATEST?
Updated March 1, 2023
We just wrapped up advising Cheyenne Sundance on this project and she is underway planning the launch of a small-scale layer operation. The project aligns with both her lifestyle and business goals with supportive and promising numbers to back it. While we closed out this specific task of assessing the feasibility of layer production at Sundance Harvest, the Skywoman team remains at Cheyenne’s disposal for any questions and support throughout the project launch.
Sundance Harvest is a 3 location farm (Bolton, Guelph and North York region) making up 3 acres in south-western Ontario. 2 locations grow food and some new farms through the Sundance Harvest Market Farmer Incubation program and the Sundance Harvest Black Business and Farm Incubation program. Since it's rooting in 2019 when Cheyenne Sundance started it in half of a greenhouse totaling 800 sqft the core values of Sundance Harvest was and still are fair labor and access to knowledge to farming to scale.
Sundance Harvest's vegetable business has done very well since its inception, through both farmers market and CSA sales, and today is a model incubation farm and distribution hub. With available funds and labor hours, owner Cheyenne Sundance is looking to round out the CSA offering by adding eggs and stewing hens into the mix. Cheyenne reached out seeking mentorship and advice from Chris Newman, founder of Skywoman and owner of Sylvanaqua Farms, on how to approach poultry production.
Ideally, Skywoman will lean on this project to explore how chickens can be raised indoors in an ethical way and use Cheyenne’s operation as a model that our community can follow.
Hurdles to discuss
Canadian bird quotas of 99 layers - can Sundance achieve strong profitability at such a small scale?
Their vegetable arm is very successful, should Sundance invest the funds and labor into improving this side of the operation or expand into a new line of business, poultry?
Does expanding into layers/stewing hens align with the personal and lifestyle goals of Cheyenne and her employees?
Jan. 14, 2023
Introductory session with Cheyenne Sundance of Sundance Harvest Farms to hear her story, set expectations, and develop a plan for how best to support her in introducing a protein option into the CSA. At this point we understood that Cheyenne has access to 1 acre of land (with the possibility of increasing up to 5 acres over time), $15k available for the project and 20 hours/week of her own labor that she is willing and able to devote to this.
Jan. 31, 2023
Poultry Deep Dive
A follow up meeting to dive deeper into Cheyenne’s why for getting into poultry production and assess if this is a viable expansion for her business. Following this discussion, we need to crunch the numbers to determine Sundance’s bottom line if they used Cheyenne’s available time and money to (a) enter into poultry production or (b) expand the vegetable operation.This will allow Cheyenne to make a well-informed decision on where she should invest her energy. If from here, Cheyenne still feels in her heart to lean one way or the other, regardless of the numbers, that is fine too. As long as she has the data to make an informed decision.
Feb. 08, 2023
Poultry Profits & Losses
Prior to this final meeting, Chris Newman met with Cheyenne to help plug her numbers into the OOLA spreadsheet. OOLA is a free financial tool for anyone looking to start, overhaul, fine-tune, or evaluate alternatives to a regenerative pastured-egg operation.
During this meeting we analyzed Sundance Harvest’s profitability for layer production and talked through options in pricing, hen lifecycles, stock loss, henhouse costs, feed costs, egg collection, and distribution costs.
Overall, the margins look super good for 99 hens, especially based on the fact that production is indoors (no cost of building and moving tractors or hay wagons around). Ultimately, this is a wonderful business opportunity for Cheyenne and she can now step into the process with the confidence of strong numbers and alignment with her lifestyle goals.