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Getting Started

Why Farm Now? Because your country needs you! We hope you will use this book as a first step on your path. The best way to use this book is to make notes, jot down questions you need to answer, and scan the resource section for books and online sites where you can find additional … Read More

What do I need to do to become a real farm?

In most instances, getting “official” recognition for your farm is as easy as filing a DBA (“Doing Business As”) form with your County Clerk’s office. The transaction usually costs around $25, and it serves to protect your farm name within your county. Then you can take this DBA to your bank and use it to … Read More

I have so many ideas. Where do I begin to narrow them down?

Many new farmers are so enthusiastic that they begin with a half-dozen or more enterprises all in the first year, without having analyzed their ability to really do any of them well. While this approach works in rare cases, an approach that is more likely to preserve your sanity and your enthusiasm for the 2nd … Read More

How profitable is farming?

Like most things in farming, you could ask this question of a dozen farmers and get 13 different answers. With the perfect storm of great farmland, high-end markets, solid crop mix, and advanced skills, it is possible to net $70,000/year on less than 2 acres, maybe even better than that. Most farmers make significantly less, … Read More

Why bother with a business plan?

The idea of spending time in nature, working with soil, plants, and animals to produce food for people has enormous appeal, especially since most of us are several generations removed from farms. But if you intend to sell any of your bounty, it is important to get past the romantic idyll of farming and do … Read More

How can I learn more about my land and what will grow well on it?

If you would like to learn more about evaluating your land’s potential for farm production, start with the Evaluating Land, Environment and Facilities tutorial at left and navigate through the chapters on climate, soil, and infrastructure.

I’m not ready to write a business plan yet. What do you recommend for me?

If you’re not ready to write a formal business plan, that’s fine. The worksheets sprinkled throughout the tutorials on the Plan Your Farm will help you think through most of the critical topics related to planning your new enterprise. If you are still trying to decide whether farming is definitely a good fit for you, … Read More

How do I finance my farm startup?

If you’re a new farmer, your chances for success will be greater if you can avoid going into debt to finance your farm operation, since your initial profits can be reinvested in the farm rather than paying the bank. Credit cards, with their extraordinarily high interest rates, are a particularly dangerous way to finance your … Read More

How long does it take to become profitable?

We typically hear from farmers that it takes 5-7 years to be profitable. There are certainly exceptions; farmers who start with minimal investments on leased land may be able to achieve profitability in the first or second year. This question is also dependent on your definition of profitability. If you expect to have off-farm income … Read More

How do I get a grant to start my farm?

Grants are almost never available to start a farm and are not a reliable strategy for growing your business. Grants may be a valuable resource once you’ve been in business for a while. They can enable you to expand a particular aspect of your business to make your operation more viable or provide funding to … Read More

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