Living the Dream: Courtney Bailey

Courtney Bailey
Co-founder
Giving Tree Farms
Anderson Valley, CA

Ah, the winter — the rainy, chilly, Northern California winter. While some outside of the cannabis cultivation scene may think this is when farmers kick back, relax and take vacations, those of us on the inside know it is precisely the opposite. Yes, there is a moment of calm before the storm, but that doesn’t hit until closer to spring, and only grants a breath of peace if our winter operations go smoothly. In the commercial cannabis world, there’s little downtime. We face tremendous cleanup, critical assessments and necessary preparation if we hope to have fruitful harvests next year. We are perpetually preparing for what happens next.

We spend our winter months evaluating our business and prepping for next year’s cultivation season. Because there are no plants in the ground during this time, we can take an in-depth look at our strengths and weaknesses and adjust our operations to be more efficient. Starting with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), we examine every aspect of our operation. While I like to think of myself as superwoman, able to take on anything singlehandedly, this is when getting our entire team involved is imperative. To get a well-rounded picture of our operations, we speak to all sectors of our team and ask them to provide open suggestions for bettering our garden in the coming years.

Successes are celebrated: What has been prosperous for us, what assets did we gain and what competitive advantages have we acquired? But the weaknesses are where we can build: Where can we be more competitive, what processes need improvements and what gaps have appeared in the team? By evaluating growth trends, upcoming events and client relationships, we learn where our opportunities lie. We also survey our challenges, taking note of any changes to the regulations, new competitors, changes in customer behaviors or holes in our suppliers’ ability to provide what we need in the coming year.

We have to be honest with ourselves during this process, which is seldom comfortable. As farm owners, we tend to observe our operation through rose-colored glasses, but it’s crucial for us to see our methods from a critical point of view. Our team can aid us in removing those spectacles and help us to see things more clearly.

While we love every aspect of what we do, the winter offers something unique to the other seasons — it is a time for reflection and growth. We set ourselves up for the 12 months ahead and with that comes excitement, hard work and constructive criticism. It’s because of these three months that we can continue to evolve as a business and better our farming operations for success year after year.

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