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The Vermont New Farmer Project class Growing Places is being offered at the Vital Communities office in White River Junction beginning June 24.  The class is for aspiring farmers and food entrepreneurs who want to learn more about the ins and outs of starting a farm business.  Registration deadline is Monday, June 10.

The in-person classes are scheduled for Monday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Course information and online registration can be found at Click on “Classes” then “Growing Places.” Scholarships are available.  For questions and additional information, email

Offered by the UVM Extension New Farmer Project in collaboration with Vital Communities and co-sponsored by the Women’s Ag Network.

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Jessie Schmidt at (802) 223-2389, ext. 203, or (866) 860-1382 (toll-free in Vermont) by June 10, 2013. Financial assistance is available for qualified applicants.

No matter what stage your farm business is in, the New Farmer Project offers classes to help you reach your full potential. Vermont New Farmer Project courses are specifically designed to meet the needs of aspiring and beginning farmers, including topics such as: goal setting, business planning, marketing, and ag financial management.  Not sure which course is right for you? Contact us or call 802-223-2389 x203.

The Vermont New Farmer Project is an initiative of the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture that is funded by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2011-49400-30500.

University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.

UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work.

Monday June 10, 2013 at 11am EST

Produce farmers interested in creating an on-farm food safety plan are invited to join and GrowNYC/Greenmarket for a free, on-farm food safety webinar. Trainer Atina Diffley will review the basics of identifying risk areas, implementing risk management solutions, and creating an on-farm food safety plan using the free, online On-Farm Food Safety tool ( The webinar will also highlight the growing importance of food safety for farmers selling into wholesale markets.

The first 25 New York growers who sign up for this webinar will receive a free copy of the third edition of Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Food Safety, Postharvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce (, which provides detailed information on how to succeed when selling to wholesale markets.

After the webinar, participants can take advantage of free one-on-one technical assistance to help complete and implement an on-farm food safety plan. Assistance can cover any area of food safety, and information comes directly from food safety experts that helped create the On-Farm Food Safety tool presented in the webinar.

Click here to register. To schedule one-on-one technical assistance, contact Chris Wayne of GrowNYC at This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Join us online for a webinar series of farmer-led virtual tours and fun, informational tips for saving energy and converting to renewables on your farm or homestead!

A Bergey Excel 10kW wind turbine installed at Cross Island Farm, NY

Are your farm energy bills on the rise – and are you wondering what you can do to reduce them?  Are you looking for more sustainable sources of energy?  This four-part online webinar series will provide examples of energy conservation measures, solar arrays, wind turbines, compost heat, and a variety of other ecological production techniques and introduce you to farmers and professionals who are successfully harnessing the power of renewable resources to produce affordable, sustainable energy.  Tune in to learn if solar, wind, geothermal, and even compost power are right for you!

This lunchtime webinar series will run from noon-12:45pm every Friday from March 29th through April 19th.  All of the webinars are free and open to the public.  To sign up, please complete and submit our New Generation Energy Webinar Sign-Up form.   You will receive an email approximately one week before your chosen webinar(s) providing a link and instructions for you to access the series.

We will be using WebEx to host this webinar series.  To use WebEx, all you will need are functioning speakers  (a sound card in your computer) and a good Internet connection – a cable modem or DSL are preferable, but dial-up, mobile wireless, and satellite Internet connections can also work.  If you have any questions about the Internet or hardware requirements necessary to use WebEx, please contact Hannah Koski at

This webinar series is sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  To learn about funding opportunities available from NE SARE, visit  To learn more about small farm resources and support, visit

March 29: Dreaming of Local Lemons – Solar Energy Virtual Tour.  Noon – 12:45pm
with Leo Siemion of Summit Naturals Organic Farm, Summit, NY

Leo Siemion of Summit Naturals Organic Farm will give a virtual photo tour of the sustainable energy features on his 25-acre organic farm.  The farm produces 11 varieties of garlic in raised fields, eggs from heritage Buff Orpington breed chickens, and bottled honey, comb honey and beeswax candles from 12 bee colonies.  Leo and his farm crew have spent the past several years raising approximately 450 pond-bred Koi fish for retail sale.  Their 60×21 foot high tunnel is double walled plastic and excess solar heat is circulated through 250 feet of corrugated pipe 2 feet underground.  The active solar heating system allows Summit Naturals to grow greens throughout the winter.  Their smaller glass greenhouse attached on the south side of the family home has 520 feet of corrugated pipe, 5 feet underground which runs through an insulated stone pit and radiates back up through the concrete floor.  Leo has been able to produce tropical fruits such as oranges, lemons, pineapples and figs in this greenhouse.  In addition, they have two pole mounted solar arrays totaling 10-kW and an evacuated tube solar hot water system. The farm has acquired a restored 40 year old GE Electrak electric tractor to use the excess electricity they now produce and reduce diesel fuel needs.

April 5: Powering Your Farm Off the Grid – Virtual Tour. Noon – 12:45pm
with Raymond Luhrman of Fox Creek Farm, Schoharie, NY

Is it possible to operate a farm off-the-grid, and what are the challenges and opportunities? Raymond Luhrman will take us on a virtual tour of Fox Creek Farm and describe how his family operates their 350 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operation from electricity produced right on site. The Lurhman’s have installed two 1.3 kW solar arrays and a Bergey XL1 wind turbine on a 100 foot tower.  Raymond will describe how he sited, sized, funded and installed these systems.  He’ll also present some additional energy conservation features of the farm, including the passive solar barn, and the CoolBot regulator that makes his walk-in cooler extra energy efficient. Aside from these technical aspects, he will also share thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that come with off-grid farming.

April 12: Compost Power! Noon – 12:45pm
with Sam Gorton, Compost Power, Systems Engineer and Design Consultant

Composting is a sustainable process for transforming farm wastes into a stable soil amendment. But, did you know that an active compost pile may be able to generate enough heat to keep your greenhouse warm in the wintertime, offset your water heating fuel needs or even heat a small-scale biogas digester? Composting is a sustainable process for transforming farm wastes into a stable soil amendment. But, did you know that an active compost pile may be able to generate enough heat to keep your greenhouse warm in the wintertime, offset your water heating fuel needs or even heat a small-scale biogas digester?  Sam Gorton, a PhD student at the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT) and co-founder of the Compost Power Network (Waitsfield, VT) will describe strategies to power your home, greenhouse or barn on the heat produced from high-Carbon compost recipes.

April 19: Ask an Installer: Wind, Solar and Geothermal. Noon – 12:45pm
with Conor Kays, Alternative Power Solutions

Energy prices are rising, and who knows where they will be in 10 or 20 years.  Investing in renewable energy now can turn a variable cost into a fixed one over the life of the system.  Conor Kays from Alternative Power Solutions of NY will talk about how to choose between geothermal, solar or wind (or all three), how to size a system, current financial incentives and offsets, and services that installers will provide.

Are you interested in or currently farming in a city?  Do you wonder how to access land, how to reclaim a contaminated site, how to maximize use of a small growing space, or how to most successfully target your urban market?

The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce the release of our new “Guide to URBAN Farming in NYS”.  The Guide answers these and many other common questions about farming in urban environments, and can help you launch, continue, or expand your urban farm business.

The 105-page resource guide contains fact-sheets on a myriad of topics, including tips for advocating for urban agriculture, engaging communities, dealing with contaminated soils, intensive growing techniques, urban composting, site security, urban livestock, direct marking options, accepting food stamps, grant and financial opportunities, and many more!  Also included is an appendix listing services and resources available from several urban farming organizations throughout New York State

Whether you’re looking to grow food on your roof top, keep chickens in your backyard, learn more about hydroponics or start an urban CSA, the “Guide to URBAN Farming in NYS” will provide or direct you to the information you need to know.

The Guide is available as a free download [PDF] or you may view individual fact sheets online (good for dial-up or band-width restricted users). Check it out at

Back to the Guide to Urban Farming Table of Contents>>

Urban Farming and Related Organizations/Programs in NYC

Organization Services and Resources Contact Information
GrowNYC Greenmarkets, Wholesale Greenmarket, Grow Truck Tool Loan Program, Rainwater Harvest Plan, Gardening Factsheets 51 Chambers Street, Room 228
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-7900
Just Food CSA in NYC Program and toolkit, City Farms Program and toolkit, Food Justice Program, Farm School NYC, City Chicken Guide, Urban Farming Tipsheets, Workshops 1155 Avenue of the Americas
Third Floor
New York, NY 10036
(212) 645-9880 ext. 221
(Program of the NYC Parks Dept.)
Gardener’s Handbook, Structures Guidebook, Events and Workshops 49 Chambers Street, Room 1020
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-8070
Open Accessible Space Information System Land Use Maps The Graduate Center/CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, Room 6202
New York, NY 10016
(212) 817-2033
NYC Beekeeper’s Association Beekeeping Workshops, Best Practices Guide, Government Forms and Information 157 Broome Street, #3E
New York, NY 10002
Green Guerillas Plant Giveaways, Community Organizing, Youth Tillers Program, High School for Public Service Youth Farm & Market, Brooklyn Community Garden Fund 232 E 11th Street New York, NY 10003
(212) 594-2155
New York City Community Garden Coalition Monthly Meetings, Summer Garden and Urban Farm Tours, Annual Gardeners’ Forum, Advocacy 323 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
(347) 699-6099
Email via website
NYC Compost Project Compost Demonstrations, Workshops, Tip Sheets, Technical Assistance, Training, Compost Bins, Signage to Community-Based Composting Sites, Master Composter Certificate Course Find contact information for individual site hosts here
DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling  Compost, Mulch, Service Requests Contact via website
EcoStation: NY Bushwick Campus Farm and Greenhouse, Apprenticeships, Food and Social Justice Workshops, Farmers Market 130 Palmetto Street, Suite 350
Brooklyn, NY 11221
(646) 393-9305
Brooklyn Botanical Garden Urban Gardening Toolkit, Events and Workshops, Certificate Programs, NYC Compost Project Host 1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
(718) 623-7200
Boswyck Farms Hydroponics Workshops and Training, Hydroponics Consulting and Installation Services 1609 Dekalb Avenue, Apt. 1D
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(617) 666-8486
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm Farmers Market, Workshops, Apprenticeships, Public Programming 44 Eagle Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Contact via website
Added Value Community Farm, Farmers Market, CSA, Composting Initiatives, Youth and Farm-Based Learning Initiatives 370 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 855-5531
Brooklyn Grange Farmers Market, Workshops, Rooftop Gardening Consulting Services (347) 670-3660
New York Botanical Garden Greenmarket, Workshops, Bronx Green-Up Program, NYC Compost Project Host 2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 817-8700
Farming Concrete Interactive Garden and Harvest Map of NYC, Record Keeping Materials and Training (347) 746-8314
Earth Matter Compost Projects and Learning Centers, Consultations, Workshops, and Networking Contact via website
Queens Botanical Garden Demonstration Gardens, Farmers Market, NYC Compost Project Host 43-50 Main Street
Flushing (Queens), NY 11355
(718) 463-0263
The Snug Harbor Cultural Center
and Botanical Garden
Heritage Historical Farm and Demonstration Site, NYC Compost Project Host 1000 Richmond Terrace
Building P, Second Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 448-2500
Queens Country Farm Museum Adult and Children’s Educational Programs 73-50 Little Neck Pathway
Floral Park, NY 11004
(718) 347-3276
BK Farmyards Training Programs and Apprenticeships, Chicken Farm and Apprenticeship, Honey Farm, Workshops, Consulting Services Contact via website
596 Acres Land Use Maps, Advocacy Services, Land Access/Tenure Resources, Consulting Services Contact via website
Get Dirty NYC! Volunteer Matching

Urban Farming and Related Organizations/Programs in Buffalo, NY

Organization Services and Resources Contact Information
Urban Roots Community Garden Center Affordable Garden Supplies, Events and Workshops 428 Rhode Island Street
Buffalo, NY 14213
(716) 362-8982
Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo Workshops 2495 Main Street, Suite 408
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 783-9653
Massachusetts Avenue Project Youth Development and Education, Growing Green Urban Farm, Training and Workshops 271 Grant Street
Buffalo, NY 14213
(716) 882-5327
GrowWNY Urban Revitalization Projects, Topical Working Groups Larkin Exchange
726 Exchange Street, Suite 525
Buffalo, NY 14210
(716) 852-2857

Urban Farming and Related Organizations/Programs in Rochester, NY

Organization Services and Resources Contact Information
NOFA-NY Organic Certification and Resources, CSA Fairs and Factsheets, Events, Workshops, Conferences 249 Highland Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620
(585) 271-1979
Rochester Roots, Inc. School-Community Garden Project, Resource Center and Lending Library 121 North Fitzhugh Street
Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 232-1463

Urban Farming and Related Organizations/Programs in Ithaca, NY

Organization Services and Resources Contact Information
Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming Farm Enterprise Incubator (In Progress), Farmer Training, Sustainable Farming Certificate Program, Farm Business Planning Course P.O. Box 6679
Ithaca, NY 14851
(607) 319-5095
Ithaca Community Gardens
(Project Growing Hope)
Events, Educational Programming, Web Resources List P.O. Box 606
Ithaca, NY 14851
(607) 216-8770
Gardens 4 Humanity
(Tompkins County)
Neighborhood Gardening Services, Educational and Leader Training, Teen Programming, After School Programs, Affordable and Free Food Plants Cornell Cooperative Extension
Tompkins County
615 Willow Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 272-2292

Urban Farming and Related Organizations/Programs in Other Cities

Organization Services and Resources Contact Information
Capital District Community Gardens Urban Grow Center (In Progress), Produce Project, Workshops, Gardening Factsheets 40 River Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 274-8685
Syracuse Grows Online Resource Directory, Workshops 144 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
(315) 443-4890
Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments (VINES) Binghamton Urban Farm Program, Farm Open Houses and Workdays, Summer Youth Employment Program P.O. Box 3104
Binghamton, NY 13902
(607) 205-8108
Radix Ecological Sustainability Center Regenerative Urban Sustainability Training (RUST), Program, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living Albany, NY

Back to the Guide to Urban Farming Table of Contents>>

Back to the Guide to Urban Farming Table of Contents>>

Urban Farming Books

  • The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal, Penguin Books, 2011
  • Breaking through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival by David Hanson and Edwin Marty, University of California Press, 2012
  • Urban Farming: Sustainable City Living in Your Backyard, in Your Community, and in the World by Thomas J. Fox, BowTie Press, 2011
  • How to Grow More Vegetables than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons, Ten Speed Press, 2002
  • Toolbox for Sustainable Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew, South End Press, 2008
  • MetroFarm: The Guide to Growing for Big Profit on a Small Parcel of Land by Michael Olson, TS Books, 1994
  • Urban Farm Handbook: City Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading, and Preparing What You Eat by Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, Mountaineer Books, 2011
  • Your Farm in the City: An Urban Dweller’s Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals by Lisa Taylor and the Gardeners of Seattle Tilth, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2011
  • Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres by Pam Dawling, New Society Publishers, 2013

Organizational Publications and Resources

  • “Start a Farm in the City” by Ref Dufour, ATTRA: The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, 2009, available for purchase at
  • Just Food’s City Farms Toolkit available for purchase at
  • Just Food’s Online Resource Center, with English and Spanish-language resources, at and
  • GreenThumb Gardener’s Handbook, available for download at
  • Syracuse Grows online urban farming resource directory at
  • GrowNYC gardening tipsheets at
  • The Urban Agricultural Legal Resource Library (, a project of the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbook Series, available for purchase at

Governmental Resources

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Urban Agriculture & Improving Local, Sustainable Food Systems” website at
  • ATTRA: The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service’s urban agriculture website at
  • USDA Urban Agriculture: An Abbreviated List of References and Resource Guide (2000) at


  • City Farmer ( and City Farmer News ( A website and news stream about various urban agriculture topics worldwide.
  • Urban Farm Online: Sustainable City Living (
  • Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (

Urban Farming Meet-Up Groups

All meet-up groups can be found by searching

  • City Farming NYC
  • Brooklyn Farmers/Gardeners
  • Genessee Valley/Rochester Permaculture
  • Brooklyn Permaculture
  • Rondout Valley Permaculture

Meetup is a network of local groups, organized by individuals at no cost via the Meetup website above.

Urban Farming Training Programs

  • Just Food Farm School NYC in New York City ( Two-year certificate program and individual advanced courses on a variety of subjects.
  • The Radix Ecological Sustainability Center Regenerative Urban Sustainability Training (RUST) in Albany ( Weekend-long intensive workshop comprised of lectures and hands-on demonstrations on various urban farming subjects.

Urban Farming Apprenticeships and Internships

  • Bk Farmyards ( Adult Urban Farmer Training, Backyard Farms Training, and Chicken Apprenticeship
  • EcoStation: NY ( Adult Apprenticeship Program at Bushwick Campus Farm
  • Eagle Street Rooftop Farm ( On-site apprenticeships and internships

Organizational Workshops, Classes and Events

Several urban farming or related organizations offer workshops, classes, and events to help educate and support urban farmers. See the Appendix for more information and for organization contact information, or check individual organization websites and event calendars.

For a listing of Cornell Cooperative Extension offices across New York State, visit

Back to the Guide to Urban Farming Table of Contents>>

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Loans and Other Financing Options

The most appropriate source of money for a new farm enterprise is your own cash – no loans, no home equity, and no credit cards. Relying on loans substantially (or entirely) puts your farm dreams at too great a risk. It is worth the patience to build up your own farm start-up account.

Only once your products have a clear demand and you are not able to keep up with sales is it time to consider a loan or financing to allow more rapid expansion of the profitable aspects of your farm. If you reach the stage where you’re ready for a loan, you will need to present potential investors or lenders with a solid business plan that exhibits a realistic strategy for paying it off (see Factsheet #32 Business Planning).

Commercial Banks

Most banks have a commercial lending department to handle business loans, but few banks have an agricultural lending department prepared to work with agricultural business. Check with your bank to see if they write agricultural loans. A partial list of New York banks with known agricultural lending departments includes:

  • Farm Credit (multiple branch locations)
  • M&T Bank (multiple branch locations) (800) 724-2440,
  • NBT Bank, P.O. Box 351, Norwich, NY 13815 (800) 628-2265,
  • Community Bank, NA, Corporate Offices, 5790 Widewaters Parkway, DeWitt, NY 13214 (800) 388-4679,
  • Bank of the Finger Lakes, 389 Hamilton Street, Geneva, NY 14456 (315) 789-1500,

Micro-Enterprise Loan Funds and Revolving Loan Funds

Some county governments have micro-enterprise loan funds with attractive interest rates and repayment terms that can be used to finance urban farm operations. Organizations and banks handling microfinancing in New York include:

  • Capital District Community Loan Fund, 255 Orange Street #103, Albany, NY 12210 (518) 436-8586,
  • Alternatives Federal Credit Union, 125 North Fulton Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 (607) 273-3582 ext. 816,
  • Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Eastside), 723 Westcott Street, Syracuse, NY 13210
    (315) 473-0270,
  • Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Southwest), 401 South Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13204, (315) 473-0260,
  • Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Northside), 800 N. Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13208, (315) 473-0280,
  • PathStone, 400 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607 (585) 340-3300,
  • Allegany County Development Services, Inc. (ACDSI), 84 Schuyler Street, P.O. Box 117, Belmont, NY 14813 (585) 268-7605,
  • CDCLI Funding Corporation, Inc., 2100 Middle Country Road Suite 300, Centereach, NY 11720 (631) 471-1215 ext. 149,
  • ACCION New York, 115 East 23rd Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10010 (718) 599-5170,

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) also now provides  microloans through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program.  These are direct farm operating loans up to $35,000 with a shortened application process and reduced paperwork and are designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional, and niche-type operations – such as urban farms.  For more information, visit the FSA website at or call (315) 477-6300.   To link directly to the New York State FSA website, visit


With the concept of “Slow Money” ( gaining popularity, investor circles nationwide are forming to fund local food systems. Depending on your location and farm plans, you may be able to attract investors to fund start-up or expansion of your farm. You will need to check in with legal and tax advisors about the implications for your farm, and you will also need to crunch the numbers and write a business plan to determine whether this is a strategy that can work for you. Search online for “slow money”, “local investing opportunity networks” and “small farm angel investors” to learn more about the possibilities for your farm.

Residential Finance or Using Your Own Equity

While many banks are unwilling to lend money to an individual to purchase a herd of goats, for example, almost all banks offer home equity loans and/or other personal loans that you could use for your agricultural business. Home equity and personal loans may carry higher interest rates than business or farm loans available through the above sources. Be sure to check rates and terms. Never finance a business using credit cards as interest rates are enormous and, if payments are not made, can quickly spiral out of control.

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Applying for Grants

An increasing number of grant programs are available to farmers from federal or state sources each with specific objectives. Grants fall into the three general types: 1) grants for business planning, adding value and increasing farm viability; 2) grants for on-farm research and demonstration projects that are mostly production oriented though some include marketing demonstration projects; and 3) grants for farm energy conservation, alternative energy, environmental protection and conservation, waste management, and community building.

Grants, however, are not a reliable strategy for growing your business. Grants may enable you to expand a particular aspect of your business to make your operation more viable or provide funding to try a new practice on your farm.

Grants are highly competitive so apply only if the project you are proposing clearly meets the grantor’s objectives. Always find out what kinds of projects were funded in the past to determine if your project is in line with what has been funded.

It takes significant time and effort to write a wining grant proposal. Instructions must be followed precisely. Grants often require a cash or in-kind match that must be documented in the budget you propose. Grants will not be considered if they arrive late after the deadline for application. Deadlines for application submission and instructions are generally announced once a year. Most grants are not available on an ongoing basis.

Once you submit a grant, it may take 3 to 6 months to find out if your application was selected for funding. If funded, it also takes time to finalize the contract. Generally you will not be reimbursed for money spent prior to receiving the signed contract. Grant contracts require that you write a report of the results and provide an accounting of how the money was spent; therefore, you must keep accurate records. Grants are also considered income for tax purposes.

The following grant opportunities pertain especially to farmers in urban centers. More general grant opportunities for farmers are also provided.

Grant Opportunities for Urban Farmers

USDA-SARE Sustainable Community Grants:

  • Purpose: For community organizations to make direct connections between community revitalization and farming.
  • Eligibility: Must be affiliated with Cooperative Extension, a municipality, a state department of agriculture, a college or university, a community organization, or other institutional entity. All applications must come from an individual within an organization. Unaffiliated individuals may not apply, and there is a limit of one proposal per applicant per year.
  • Deadline: Submit applications on line in November for awards in the spring.
  • Information: Visit for more information and for information about how to write a Sustainable Community Grant.

Wallace Center Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Grants

  • Purpose: To make more healthy and affordable food available in low-income areas, increase market access for small- and medium-sized agricultural producers, and promote positive economic activities generated by attracting healthy food enterprises into underserved communities.
  • Information: Offer small enterprise, large enterprise, and feasibility study grants, each with different purposes and awards. Visit or contact or (703) 531-8810 for more information.

US EPA Brownfields Program Grants

  • Purpose: Provide direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training.
  • Information: Provide assessment, cleanup, training, research, technical assistance, and other grants. Information for each grant type is available at

United Way of New York City Seed Grants

United Way of New York City has created an Urban Farms initiative and provides seed grants for Urban Farming through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP).

  • Purpose: Support the creation or enhancement of services in community-based organizations.
  • Eligibility: Must be a community-based organization with 501 c. 3 status. More eligibility requirements are listed on the website provided below.
  • Information: Grant implementation timeline is January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. For eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and application procedures, visit

Other Grant Opportunities for Farmers

NYS Funding for Organic Certification

  • Purpose: Reimburse producers for a portion of their annual organic certification renewal costs; can apply annually (75% reimbursement up to a maximum of $750).
  • Information: More information is available from the USDA National Organic Program website ( and forms can be downloaded from

NYS Specialty Crops Block Grants Program

  • Purpose: Increase the competitiveness of specialty crops, encourage efficiency, partnerships, innovation, and new markets. The RFP includes many areas of focus including: packaging/labeling, environmental quality, distribution, education and outreach, food safety, food security, marketing and promotion, product development, plant health and international trade. 2009 awards were solely focused on plant health.
  • Eligibility: Funding available to non-profits, for profits, individuals, educational institutions, and government; however, individuals and businesses must partner with others.
  • Information: Contact Jonathan Thomson at or (518) 485-8902.

NYS Energy Research and Development Authority Programs

  • Purpose: Several programs, incentives and loans for farm waste management (biogas); improved energy efficiency; solar and wind generation; and innovative business practices for energy conservation, alternative energy, and energy use. Energy audits available.
  • Information: For more information, visit (for agriculture-specific projects, visit or call (518) 862-1090.

USDA-SARE Farmer Grants

  • Purpose: Support on-farm research demonstrations, marketing innovations, value adding activities and other projects (capped at $15,000; capital improvements limited to $500 of total project cost; no match required).
  • Information: For more information, visit, email or call (802) 656-0471.

Resources for Grant Writing

The Foundation Center offers a comprehensive proposal writing online short course for purchase at (see Get Started).

Non-Profit Guides are free online grant-writing tools for non-profit organizations, charitable, educational, public organizations, and other community-minded groups, available at


Crowdfunding platforms such as,, and offer unique opportunities for fundraising and receiving donations, usually via the Internet. Be sure to read Terms of Use and other guidelines before using a Crowdfunding platform.

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Labor Laws

Employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance on their workers if cash wages are or exceed $1,200 in a year. If you host unpaid interns and apprentices on your farm, they must also be covered by workers’ compensation (the training and/or room and board you provide them is valued in lieu of wages). The only exception to this is if your farm is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Download the Employers’ Handbook at for more information.

The Urban Agricultural Legal Resource Library ( provides additional information on employment law as it applies to urban farmers, including information on the use of volunteer labor and services.

Minimum Wage

As of the revision date noted on this fact sheet, the Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25/hour. The New York State Minimum Wage is also $7.25/hour. This wage minimum applies to regular wage jobs and piece-rate jobs on farms with annual payroll over $3,000. It excludes immediate family and minors under 17 years of age employed on the same farm as their parents or guardians who are paid on a piece-rate basis at the same rate as employees over 17.

Finding Volunteers

Volunteer-matching websites such as Get Dirty NYC! ( and Volunteer Match ( allow you to advertise your urban farm operation and recruit potential volunteers. Note that Volunteer Match is for use only by non-profits.

Hiring Forms

Employers must keep an I-9 form from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service on file for all employees. The I-9 requires copies of documentation (a driver’s license and social security card for most), however, the employer is not required to verify that these documents are valid. The form is available from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services at

For more information about federal regulations for agricultural employers, download the IRS Publication 51, Agricultural Employers Tax Guide at

Payroll Service

Given the complexities and liabilities of properly administering payroll, it is recommended that small employers hire a payroll service from a local accounting firm. Though expensive, this frees the employer from the liabilities of missing a form deadline, improperly handling a payroll withholding account, and avoids the need to stay current with the various labor forms and regulations at both the state and federal level.

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Record Keeping

At a minimum your farm will need a record keeping system for tax and legal compliance and it is highly recommended that you also keep yield and other farm production records that might be useful to making decisions on the farm. For example, many growers keep weather logs so that they can evaluate their practices and yields and then make better growing practice and crop variety decisions for the coming year. Many tools are available as part of the Improving Profitability tutorial on the Northeast Beginning Farmer website at

Paper Records

Many small and beginning farmers and businesses use the shoebox method of accounting. Keep all sales receipts in one folder, expense receipts in another, maintain a capital asset depreciation log, and you may have additional folders for farm yield or other data important to the year. The advantage of this system is that it is simple and easy to do. The disadvantage is that the data is not well organized so when you need farm information you often have to sort through piles of paper and do all computations by hand.

Cornell Farm Account Book

Though geared more toward rural farmers, the Cornell Farm Account Book can be a helpful tool for organizing your finances. The advantage of the farm account book is that it is easy to understand and the information is well laid out in case you need to access it later. The disadvantage is that the information may not be laid out how you as a manager would like it, and it is still a hand-entry accounting system so entering farm information may take several hours per week. To order the Cornell Farm Account Book ($20) or the Cornell Classic Farm Account Book ($15) from CUP Services, write P.O. Box 6525 Ithaca NY 14850, call 800-666-2211, or e-mail

Excel Spreadsheets

If you can use a basic spreadsheet in Excel or a similar program, this is a good compromise between paper systems and more sophisticated recordkeeping program. If you don’t need to generate invoices and have a relatively simple, small operation, a spreadsheet like this may serve your needs well for many years.

Farm Records Service

Some farmers choose to mail all invoices to an accounting service where the accountant will enter the information into a computer records system, provide you with detailed monthly business statements, and perform all tax functions.

The advantage of this system is that it provides a person who does not have the time, understanding of accounting or computer skills the highest level of records information. The disadvantage is that this system has the highest cost and the monthly business statements take a few weeks to process and get back whereas the person utilizing an on-farm computer records system will have those statements in real time.

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