5 Ways to Evaluate Your Work

Winter sunlight

This winter, Bryan and I have been working on updating our business plan.

It’s easy for us to put this on the back-burner since we spent a lot of time on our original plan and tend to think it was thorough.

But, going through our old one made us realize that we’ve changed, our vision for the farm has changed, and we haven’t always followed through on some of our original ideas. And some of those original ideas were good.

One of them was to evaluate our business using the “Five Filters Analytical Process,” something I learned while at Windhorse Farm.

The 5 Filters are:

  1. Ecological Filter: Are we causing harm to the non-human beings in this place or elsewhere? Is there tangible enrichment of the lives of other beings?
  2. Social Filter: Are we contributing to community harmony or to its opposites (divisiveness, animosity, territoriality)?
  3. Economics Filter: Are we helping to build economic stability for our community (human and non-human) or does our business pose undue hardships or financial risks that are likely to destabilize the local economy? Does our farm reflect ecological economics rather than market economics?
  4. Spiritual Filter: Do we notice an increase in kindness, compassion, and awareness among the humans involved in this farm business? Alternatively, do we see an increase in covetousness, aggression, and ignorance?
  5. Magical Filter: Are we becoming more connected to the peacefulness and energy of the land, experiencing each plant and rock as alive and distinct, or are we becoming isolated, dulled out, and cut off from that “direct knowing” or “non-conceptual” experience of the earth?

Remembering to consider these Filters when evaluating our business as a whole, new tool or infrastructure purchases, new enterprises, and our lifestyle is something that is valuable to us but not always (or often) easy for us to do. I know that at one point, I had written the Filters out and pinned them up on a corkboard. But I stopped noticing it, or the paper got covered with other “to remember” items.

This is one of the benefits of spending time going through each section of our business plan. We didn’t create our business plan for a bank (though we used parts of it when we were applying for our mortgage). We created it for ourselves, to make sure that we were on the track that we wanted to be on. That we were actually creating a farm business with the values and goals and hopes and dreams that feel right to us as we grow and mature.

This reminds me of a quote I was inspired by as a young(er) woman, travelling from farm to farm. It’s from Summer Day by Mary Oliver:

“Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon? Tell me what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

Dried Poppy Pod


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